It’s not so easy for most of us to love poetry!540141_10151860146274782_1662880574_n

Much of it may seem too esoteric. Too quaint. Or just plain too difficult to understand.

Can you relate?

If you find you do, yet would like to enjoy poetry,you might try these ways of reading.

Break, Blow, Burn, Camille Paglia’s book about close reading of classical and contemporary poems, set me on this journey (New York: Random House, 2005).

These five techniques, based on Paglia’s essays, enhance my understanding and—best of all—my enjoyment of poetry. It may surprise you how much joy you’ll discover in reading a poem.

  1. Remember where you’ve loved being. Or hated! Try to bring every iota of your unique personal experience to each word or phrase.
  2. Let the mind wander. Use free association to pick up connections.
  3. Drop the censor! Whatever a vivid metaphor suggests, let your responses come uncensored. Don’t over-think!
  4. Employ all your senses. Enjoy the sensuousness of the poem’s repeating sounds, rhyme, near-rhyme, colors, tastes, and textures.
  5. Read with the heart. Poetry often speaks deeply about common human frailties and triumphs, sadness and elation, falling in love—and the heartbreak of separation. Read with the part of your heart that knows the value and wisdom you achieved as a result.