How to Read Poetry Like a Professor: A Quippy and Sonorous Guide to Verse (Paperback)
From the bestselling author of How to Read Literature Like a Professor comes this essential primer to reading poetry like a professor that unlocks the keys to enjoying works from Lord Byron to the Beatles.
No literary form is as admired and feared as poetry. Admired for its lengthy pedigree—a line of poets extending back to a time before recorded history—and a ubiquitous presence in virtually all cultures, poetry is also revered for its great beauty and the powerful emotions it evokes. But the form has also instilled trepidation in its many admirers mainly because of a lack of familiarity and knowledge.
Poetry demands more from readers—intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually—than other literary forms. Most of us started out loving poetry because it filled our beloved children's books from Dr. Seuss to Robert Louis Stevenson. Eventually, our reading shifted to prose and later when we encountered poetry again, we had no recent experience to make it feel familiar. But reading poetry doesn’t need to be so overwhelming. In an entertaining and engaging voice, Thomas C. Foster shows readers how to overcome their fear of poetry and learn to enjoy it once more.
From classic poets such as Shakespeare, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and Edna St. Vincent Millay to later poets such as E.E. Cummings, Billy Collins, and Seamus Heaney, How to Read Poetry Like a Professor examines a wide array of poems and teaches readers:
- How to read a poem to understand its primary meaning.
- The different technical elements of poetry such as meter, diction, rhyme, line structures, length, order, regularity, and how to learn to see these elements as allies rather than adversaries.
- How to listen for a poem’s secondary meaning by paying attention to the echoes that the language of poetry summons up.
- How to hear the music in poems—and the poetry in songs!
With How to Read Poetry Like a Professor, readers can rediscover poetry and reap its many rewards.
Thomas C. Foster, author of How to Read Literature Like a Professor and Reading the Silver Screen, is professor emeritus of English at the University of Michigan, Flint, where he taught classes in contemporary fiction, drama, and poetry, as well as creative writing and freelance writing. He is also the author of several books on 20th-century British and Irish literature and poetry.
“[An] accessible guide… [Foster’s] discussion of symbolism is particularly effective and may help readers learn to actually enjoy the experience of interpreting a poem… Students struggling to understand poetry, or even English instructors struggling to teach it, could benefit immensely from Foster’s guidance.” — Publishers Weekly
“Foster’s enthusiasm is infectious…he has clearly enjoyed teaching and sharing his love of literature with his students during his long career. How to Read Poetry Like a Professor is not unlike that freshman English class that everyone vies to enroll in—entertaining and informative without being intimidating. The curriculum is on point, and in the end, you’ll have the tools to truly ‘get’ poetry, with all its manifest themes and variations.” — BookPage