Book Club Tips - Poetry

Ode to poems
Switch things up and try adding a poetry selection to your book club reading list

Despite whatever preconceived notions you may have, reading poetry doesn’t have to be intimidating. In fact you already have the skills to be a reader of poetry. Most poems are imitations of speech – meaning they are meant to be read and understood as if someone were speaking – the trick is identifying who the speaker is. This will allow you to get a better sense of what the poem is all about

When reading poetry, avoid reading line-by-line. Instead, try to read the lines of the poem as you would a novel – pausing only when you see a comma or stopping when you see a period. This will allow for you to get a better sense of the meaning behind each sentence.

From there, get to the bottom of what the poet and poem are trying to say with these discussion points.

1) Who is the poet speaking too? Is there a specific audience in mind?

2) Who is the speaker of the poem? Is it a man or woman? Adult or child? How are they feeling? Happy? Sad? Angry? Confused? Just like novelists create characters, poets create voices – known as personae – who are the speakers of the poem.

3) Is the speaker doing anything while they are speaking?

4) Is there an argument to the poem? Is the poet not only describing an object or feeling but a point of view as well? How does the logic or structure affect the feel of the poem?

5) What are some of the symbols used to add meaning to the poem?

6) What is the tone of the poem? How do you picture the speaker saying the words. Softly? Sharply? With excitement? With anger? What is the mood of the poem?