Poetry can be amazing, confusing, soul-wrenching, hysterically funny, and incredibly frustrating. It has an amazing power to tap into our emotional cores, evoke our senses, and reach us at a visceral level, but it also can cause anxiety in students who study it. When you first begin working with poetry, it is important to read it at least once without trying to dissect it. Poetry is meant to be experiential, so let yourself experience it first. One part of this process is reading poetry aloud. Poetry has a specific sound to it that differs from prose, and this sound creates a rhythm that resonates in both body and mind. That is why early societies often paired poetry with a drum beat. In fact, when rap music first came out, it was actually an extension of this ancient tradition where rhymes were paired with a beat that made the body want to move.
Poetry can be funny and light-hearted, but it can also be dark and depressing. Which poetry you decide to read may ultimately depend on your current mood, what sounds you enjoy, and what word combinations resonate with you personally. Under "Research Tools," there is section called "Books to Help You Get Started." These are collections of poetry, and the works in them will allow you to sample different styles and kinds of poems. The other sections help you with research related to poetry, including criticism and theory.
Once you have experienced poetry, then you can get into dissecting it through a process called Close Reading. In French, this is called an Explication du Texte, and we get a lot of our ideas about how to analyze poetry from this particular reading strategy. You will see two tabs at the top of the page hand called "Close Reading - Where to Start" and "Close Reading - Pre-Writing." The information under this tab can help you begin your journey into the sometimes frustrating, but very rewarding world of Close Reading. In order to augment a Close Reading, you should do some research both on the poets themselves and on the specific poems that you have chosen to analyze.
As always, if you need assistance, please do not hesitate to reach out to one of our wonderful librarians for help and guidance!