Poetry can be amazing, confusing, soul-wrenching, hysterically funny, and incredibly frustrating. It has an amazing power to tap into our emotional cores, evoke our senses, and reach us at a visceral level, but it also can cause anxiety in students who study it. When you first begin working with poetry, it is important to read it at least once without trying to dissect it. Poetry is meant to be experiential, so let yourself experience it first. One part of this process is reading poetry aloud. Poetry has a specific sound to it that differs from prose, and this sound creates a rhythm that resonates in both body and mind. That is why early societies often paired poetry with a drum beat. In fact, when rap music first came out, it was actually an extension of this ancient tradition where rhymes were paired with a beat that made the body want to move.
Poetry can be funny and light-hearted, but it can also be dark and depressing. Which poetry you decide to read may ultimately depend on your current mood, what sounds you enjoy, and what word combinations resonate with you personally. Under "Recommended Books," there is a page called "Books to Help You Get Started." These are collections of poetry, and the works in them will allow you to sample different styles and kinds of poems.
Once you have experienced poetry, then you can get into dissecting it through a process called Close Reading. In French, this is called an Explication du Texte, and we get a lot of our ideas about how to analyze poetry from this particular reading strategy. You will see a tab to the left-hand side called "Close Reading," which provides more guidance on this topic. In order to augment a Close Reading, you should do some research both on the poets themselves and on the specific poems that you have chosen to analyze. Under the tab "Recommended Books," you will find a page called, "Books for Beginning Researchers." These provide some strategies on reading, criticizing, and analyzing poetry. You will also want to use the "Recommended Databases" and "Internet Recommendations" for doing research on a specific poem or poet.
As always, if you need assistance, please do not hesitate to reach out to one of our wonderful librarians for help and guidance!