How to Read a Poem is an introduction to creative reading, the art of coming up with something to say about a text. It presents a new method for learning and teaching the skills of poetic interpretation, providing its readers with practical steps they can use to construct perceptive, inventive readings of any poem they might read.
The Introduction sets out the aims of the book and provides some basic operating principles for applying the seven steps. Each subsequent chapter then follows the same format: the step is introduced and explained; relevant points of interpretative theory and methodology are discussed and illustrated with multiple examples; and the step is put into practice in a final section. Through these final sections, step by step, the book develops an extended reading of a single poem, Letitia Landon’s "Lines Written Under a Picture of a Girl Burning a Love-Letter" of 1822. That reading is sustained across the whole arc of the book, providing a detailed worked example of reading a poem.
This accessible and enjoyable guide is the ideal introduction to anyone approaching a detailed study of poetry for the first time and also offers useful theoretical insights for those more experienced in the area.
Table of Contents
Introduction Step 1: Fragment the Poem Step 2: Read It Aloud Step 3: Describe a Form Step 4: Find the Weirdness Step 5: Find Poetic Self-Reference Step 6: Find Other Ambiguities Step 7: Totalize the Reading
Thomas H. Ford is a Lecturer of English at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia.