April 8, 2013

Off Campus: Poetry for the ear: Thoughts on National Poetry Month

Anyone can enjoy the music of formal verse -- try reading aloud or sharing a poem at the dinner table.

By Annie Finch

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If you can't read a formal poem loudly, whisper it. If you can't do that, read it aloud with the inner voice in your head. Formal poetry's music is as close to us as ever. After all, we're still human, with the same regular breaths and pulses that inspired poets to meter millennia ago.

3. MEMORIZE. Poetic form originally enabled us to memorize literature, and it certainly helps.

Carrying a formal poem around with you on an index card is a time-honored way to memorize. Some people memorize a poem in parts, but I always start at the beginning each time I run through the poem.

4. SHARE. Poetry is above all a means of communication. For starters, you could try sharing a poem at the dinner table.

5. WRITE.  Anyone, not just a "poet," can create satisfying formal poetry.  

If you want the support of a handbook, try Mary Oliver's "Rules of the Dance" or my own "A Poet's Craft. "

6. ENJOY. Formal poetry is created to be enjoyed. Don't wait till next National Poetry Month to savor its pleasures!

Annie Finch is director of the Stonecoast MFA Program at the University of Southern Maine and author of a blog at anniefinch.com and many books, most recently "Spells: New and Selected Poems."


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