A Grain of Poetry: How to Read Contemporary Poems and Make by Herbert R. Kohl

By Herbert R. Kohl

Poetry has the ability to maneuver and problem the reader. it could actually accentuate or perhaps rejoice distress, be cynical or wry, or simply snicker outright in an outrageous means. Poetry is as critical and antic as existence, and but interpreting glossy poetry might be stunning to our experience of what language is or needs to be.In A Grain of Poetry, Herbert Kohl offers a sequence of guideposts to assist every body learn poetry and notice these poems that tell and encourage them. In transparent, direct language, he covers the entire essential-but usually unchartedpaths to figuring out poetry: shape and constitution, line breaks and pauses, rhythm and melody, imagery, and recitation. Written through one of many country's prime educators, A Grain of Poetry is a finished and available advisor for all poets, scholars, and poetry fanatics.

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Extra resources for A Grain of Poetry: How to Read Contemporary Poems and Make Them A Part of Your Life

Example text

Create the rhythm of the tale. This poem makes the reader into a voyeur, a witness to a small and important event. There is something very gentle and loving about the poet's approach to her subject, to her readers. If You Saw a Negro Lady If you saw a Negro lady sitting on a Tuesday near the whirl-sludge doors of Horn & Hardart on the main drag of downtown Brooklyn solitary and conspicuous as plain and neat as walls impossible to fresco and you watched her self­ conscious features shape about a Horn & Hardart teaspoon with a pucker from a cartoon she would not understand with spine as straight and solid as her years of bending over floors allowed Notice the indentation of the last stanza, which represents a shift from talking about the room to the voice of the poet instructing her ribs.

The second example is based on an opposite princi­ ple. The significant words occur at the beginnings of the lines and the last words are all dropped, thrown away, the voice trailing off. Beginnings and endings of lines are the spots for natural emphases, and the endings are usually stronger. By deliberately de­ emphasizing them, one gets an interestingly jerky, indifferent tone, a modern slur, shying from emotion and rhetoric. Also, notice, it forces you to see. Poetry is primarily an auditory experience, but since most people come in contact with it on paper, there is ample reason for making it a visual experience as well.

I looked back where the sky came down. Some days no train would come. Some birds didn't have a song. Reading poetry out loud can seem difficult, even embarrassing. I spend part of the time living on eleven acres in a rural community and can go out and sing and shout whenever I like without being considered disruptive, crazy, or a public nuisance. On the other hand, when I am in the city, if I speak a poem I don't do it outside or in the hall, but in the privacy of my apartment or sometimes 68 A Grain of Poetry with friends at a picnic or on a hike.

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