1. Get comfy and enjoy your first reading. Relax into the experience without trying to analyze anything.
2. Read the poem again, this time aloud. Listen for the musicality. Feel the rhythm.
3. As you read aloud, notice the sound echoes, images, or other poetic devices that make the poem unique.
4. Now analyze. Ask what grabbed your interest and why.
5. If the poem included words or literary references with which you’re not familiar, look up each in a dictionary or on the Internet. Analyze: How or why does a particular word or reference enhance the poem?
6. Ask more questions, such as why an image works – or not!
7. Does the poem follow a pattern or form? If so, is it effective?
8. Consider the connotations for unusual choices of words. Do the implied meanings add layers of meaning to the poem? If so, how? For instance, a word that suggests more than one meaning can add a sense of mystery – or confusion!
9. Whatever the overall effect, is it effective? Does each aspect of the poem work well – or not? If not, what would you change and why?
10. As a poem reveals itself to you, you begin to own the experience. And, as you notice or consider each poetic aspect, those techniques become available to you too. You now own the choices that went into the making of this poem – choices that you, too, have the option to use as you revise your poems for others to read, analyze, and enjoy.
© 2015, Mary Harwell Sayler has 3 books of poetry, Outside Eden and Beach Songs & Wood Chimes, published by Kelsay Books in 2014 and, in 2012, Living in the Nature Poem published by Hiraeth Press with an e-book version released in 2014. She’s also written e-books on poetry: the Christian Poet’s Guide to Writing Poetry and the Poetry Dictionary For Children and For Fun, which all age groups can enjoy.