It’s scary to jump into very cold water. For some people it’s even scarier to jump into a poem. Here are a few suggestions I offer to my students … and friends 🙂
1. Read the poem aloud. Don’t try to understand it. Experience the poem as you would a piece of music: What images come to mind as you read it, what mood does it evoke in you?
2. Notice the images in the poem. Why did the poet show you these particular images? What do they make you think about? How do they make you feel.
3. Notice the form of the poem. Does it rhyme? Do any words or phrases repeat? Are the lines long or short? Do the words sound like someone speaking in casual conversation or is the language more formal? How does the form affect the feeling and/or meaning of the poem?
4. Ask yourself: What is the poet trying to tell me? Why did she or he write this poem?
5. Write back to the poem. Poetry is a conversation across time and space. The poet has written to you. Now write back to him or her.