Brooklyn Public Library


Poetry: What’s the 8-1-1?

Apr 19, 2010 11:56 AM | 0 comments

You might be overwhelmed by the amount of poetry that exists. Luckily, BPL has a large collection, so Brooklynites can browse dozens of volumes until you find one that speaks to you. Just ask your librarians to help you find the 811s (the call number for poetry).


Here are few tips for approaching poetry:


Read the poem out loud

Poets score language like composers do music and you need to hear it out loud to understand the phrasing, pace, and sounds that the poet has carried to you in the words.


Read and reread just a few poems a day

Many readers feel intimidated by poems because they don’t “get it” when they first read a poem. While most poems are short, they are densely packed. Don’t give up because you don’t get a poem on a first reading.


Don’t just read anthologies

Anthologies, or collections of poems by multiple authors who share characteristics, locations, or eras, are great introductions to the universe of poetry but they don’t provide an avenue for deep exploration. Once you find poets you love, read their individual books.


Pick up some anthologies to find poets who speak to you. Here are just a few of my favorites:


Every Shut Eye Ain't Asleep: An Anthology of Poetry by African Americans Since 1945


Poems for the Millennium: The University of California Book of Modern and Postmodern Poetry


The Vintage Book of Contemporary World Poetry


 -          Guest post from BPL’s Meredith Walters, Manager, Adult Programs

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