In Reading Poetry: Act 3, 7-11

8. A poem has no hidden meaning, only “meanings” you’ve not yet realized are right in front of you. Discerning subtleties takes practice. Reading poetry is a convention like anything else. And you learn the rules of it like anything else—e.g., driving a car or baking a cake.

9. As hard as it sounds, separate the poet from the speaker of the poem. A poet always wears a mask (persona) even if she isn’t trying to wear a mask, and so to equate poet and speaker denies the poem any imaginative force that lies outside of her lived life.

10. When you come across something that appears “ironic,” make sure it’s not simply the speaker’s sarcasm or your own disbelief.

11. “Reading for pleasure” implies there’s “reading for displeasure” or “reading for pain.” All reading should be pleasurable:

Like sex, it pleases to a greater or lesser degree, but pleasure ultimately isn’t the only point.

Agreed?

To be continued

My regards

Liam

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