Addressing Poetry Assumptions

POETRY ASSUMPTIONS

Readers of poetry often bring with them many related assumptions:

  • That a poem is to be read for its “message,”
  • That this message is “hidden” in the poem,
  • The message is to be found by treating the words as symbols which naturally do not mean what they say but stand for something else,
  • You have to decipher every single word to appreciate and enjoy the poem.
  • That a poem is to be read for its “message,”
  • That this message is “hidden” in the poem,
  • The message is to be found by treating the words as symbols which naturally do not mean what they say but stand for something else,
  • You have to decipher every single word to appreciate and enjoy the poem.

There are no easy ways to dispel these biases. Poetry is difficult because very often its language is indirect. But so is experience – those things we think, feel, and do.

The lazy reader wants to be told things and usually avoids poetry because it demands commitment and energy.

Moreover, much of what poetry has to offer is not in the form of hidden meanings. Many poets like to “play” with the sound of language or offer an emotional insight by describing what they see in highly descriptive language.

In fact, there can many different ways to enjoy poetry; this reflects the many different styles and objectives of poets themselves.

Finally, if you are the type to give up when something is unclear, just relax! Like I just said, there can be many different approaches to examining poetry; often these approaches (like looking for certain poetic devices or examining the meaning of a specific phrase) do not require a complete and exhaustive analysis of a poem.

So, enjoy what you do understand! In Naija parlance, no come dey do pass yasef.

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Author avatar
Jaachi Anyatonwu
http://jaachiwrites.com
Jaachi Anyatonwu is a poet from Nigeria. His writings are inspired by everyday happenings and observations with writings that cut across many genres like poetry, prose, essays and music. Jaachi loves to create rich content; creative writing tips, authorship tips, humorous stories and micro poems. He's the author of Sweetness, a collection of poems.

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