How to Read a Poem-- and Start a Poetry Circle

Front Cover
Riverhead Books, 1999 - Literary Criticism - 209 pages
Many of us love poetry. Or perhaps, more accurately, many of us would like to love poetry...if we weren't so afraid of it. Molly Peacock has loved reading poetry for five decades, loved writing it for nearly four, and has loved teaching it for over twenty-five years. As one of our nation's most admired poets, she is perfectly poised to strip away the scary mystique to reveal how poetry works its alluring alchemy on us and invite us to love it wholeheartedly, to experience it with our hearts and souls. Best of all, she shows us why poetry begs to be shared, to be read aloud, discussed, and enjoyed among friends.

How to Read a Poem is a slender book of ways to explore the romance we have with words we can't quite hold. In twelve chapters, Peacock presents eighteen "talisman" poems -- cherished poems that she has collected over the years. Some of the poems are well known, such as Elizabeth Bishop's "One Art" or Philip Larkin's "Talking in Bed"; others are more obscure, such as a sexy anonymous medieval poem called "Wulf and Edwacer" or the Romantic poet John Clare's "I Am." Each poem is printed in its entirety, providing readers with a slender anthology with which to start a poetry circle; each chapter examines the interior life of both the poem and the poet, giving readers a window to their interior lives as well. A story will unfold around the poem, and the poem's wisdom will unfold inside the story.

How to Read a Poem also offers a practical and anecdotal guide to organizing a poetry reading group and a final chapter in which twenty poets present their suggestions of favorite books with which to begin your poetry reading experience.

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review

HOW TO READ A POEM: . . . and Start a Poetry Circle

User Review  - Kirkus

In a successful effort to demonstrate the value of her oft-neglected medium, poet and memoirist Molly Peacock (Paradise, Piece by Piece, 1998, etc.) guides the reader through 13 of her favorite poems ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - sagustocox - LibraryThing

"I found grown -up poetry to be as spongy as a forest floor--your foot sinks into the pine needles, the air smells mushroomy and dank, and filtered light swirls around you till you're deep in another ... Read full review

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

Bibliographic information