Saturday, December 12, 2015

Want to improve your poetry? Then read.

This is is the first piece of advice that most people who know what they are doing with regards to poetry(or any writing really) give.

You want to learn to write good, you gotta read and read widely.

So this post is about me figuring out how to structure the reading part of my Year of Poetry.

Now I have taken the above advice to heart and to date this year have already read some 25 collections of poetry ranging from the poetry of Heian era Japan, to modern American, English and Australian poetry.

I can't be bothered trying to work out how many poems that is - over 2000 easy.

I haven't noticed a huge difference in the output or the quality of my work.  So I'm thinking that perhaps its the way I am reading that needs some attention.

I read primarily for entertainment or for review which tends to result in quick and perhaps shallow reading.  There's a pressure to read and get it done and then write about it.

So step one is to slow down the reading.

My first idea is to commit to reading one poem a day and reading that poem multiple times, reading it out loud to hear it as well.  Then to engage in some close reading and perhaps some written reflection as well.

To that end I have found
The Close Reading of Poetry A Practical Introduction and Guide to Explication 
to give me a rough guide(or to aid my recall of University days gone by) to keep me on the straight and narrow.

So to write well I need to read well and that means reading with both breadth and depth.  Feel free to offer suggestions on reading, techniques etc stuff that you know works.


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