Master class tips for reading and writing poetry, part I
Do you ever struggle to figure out what a poem means or how to approach writing one?
I’ve always loved poetry so when I studied for my MFA, I attended every poetry workshop that I could, even though it wasn’t my focus in the program.
One of my favorite classes was a master class by poet and teacher Matthew Shenoda.
One of Shenoda’s tips was to read poetry conceptually. He suggested we ask ourselves these questions:
- What does this poem sound like?
- What does it look like?
- What does it smell like?
- What is the experience of it?
- Is the poem idea driven?
During class discussion, students shared their approaches to reading and writing poetry. Here are several of their comments:
- Don’t ask anything of the experience, but see if the poem triggers something as you read it.
- Look for an image to take with you when you’ve finished reading.
- Is there a feeling or mood you can’t articulate? Start with this feeling as a way into writing a poem. All writing is an act of discovery.
For more insight, listen to this brief Q&A to hear how Shenoda finds form in his poems and read his poem, A Prayer For My People. He is the author of Somewhere Elseand Seasons of Lotus, Seasons of Bone. Also, read Master class tips for reading and writing poetry, part II.