How to Read, Write and Analyse Poetry

How to Read, Write and Analyse Poetry

Amidst our Run into Poetry competition, MWNS thought it was only fair to share our best tips for writing, reading and analysing poetry. We encourage all students who are aspiring writers, or perhaps just aspiring for top marks in their exams, to read this article and ask their tutors any questions they may have.

MWNS knows the importance of creative writing skills and how a solid understanding of poetry can enhance this skill. Through our personalised individual or micro-group (3) english lessons, we can build confidence in your child’s ability to express their creativity through writing.

Reading & Analysing Poetry

When reading poetry, it is important to understand that poets often write with figurative language and multiple interpretations of their work can be established. To ensure your interpretation is accurate, be sure to analyse the following:

Theme/Main Idea

Analyse the poem as a whole to understand the overall theme and idea that is being conveyed. This could include a feeling or the tone of the poem.

Authors Context and Purpose

Understand when and why the author wrote the poem. Was the poet writing to share a personal experience, writing to a lover or friend, express concern about a social issue or the environment or be nostalgic and remember past experience.

Poem Form and Structure

Pay careful attention to the form of the poem, is it structured or free form, as this could reflect the theme of the poem. A structured poem could reflect constraints of society whereas a free form poem could be hinting towards the chaos inside the poets mind or life. Remember that paragraphs in poems are called stanzas and sentences are called lines.

Rhythm and Rhyme

Sound devices such as rhythm (beat and stresses) and rhyme (same sounding words) must also be considered when analysing poetry.

Literary Techniques

Below is a list of the ten most common literary/english techniques associated with poetry. The list includes:

  • Alliteration is when consecutive or closely followed words begin with or include the same consonants.
  • Assonance is when consecutive or closely followed words contain the same vowel sounds.
  • Onomatopoeia is the use of words associated with sounds, much like tick-tock, boom and buzz.
  • Similes compare two things or relate two things together using the words ‘like’ or ‘as’.
  • Metaphors clearly state that one thing ‘is’ another.
  • Hyperboles are instances of dramatic exaggeration.
  • Intertextuality is used when one work references another text within the poem.
  • Repetition is the act of stating the same word or phrase multiple times for effect.
  • Symbolism is simply using symbols to represent ideas or qualities.
  • Rhyming is the act of including same sounding words and phrases repetitively throughout a poem.

Writing Poetry

When writing poetry, you need to think of a clear idea and message and then use figurative language and abstract ideas to convey the idea creatively. There are fewer rules when writing poetry compared to writing an essay or short story.

When brainstorming ideas and styles to use, it is encouraged that you read texts by famous poets to gain inspiration and a deeper understanding of what you are trying to achieve. The Australian Poetry Library is home to thousands of poems and pieces of literature that could be used for study or inspiration.

Types of Poetry

Once you have decided on a theme or idea, the type of poem you want to write is an important decision. There are many options to choose from. Below are the different types and their main features.

Ballard. A Ballard is a narrative verse that is either poetic or musical.

Elegies. An Elegy is a poem that indulges in serious reflection, usually in the case of a death or loss.

Epics. An Epic poem details an extraordinary achievement. They are often quite long and flow like a short story.

Free Verse. Free Verse poetry lacks consistent rhyme, metrical pattern, or musical form. The have very little restrictions.

Haiku. A Haiku is a 3-line poem that originates from Japan that usually focuses on nature and natural phenomenon.

Limerick. A Limerick is a 5-line poem with a rhyme scheme of AABBA.

Lyric Poetry. Lyric Poetry relates to feelings and emotions.

Narrative Poetry. Narrative Poetry as the name suggests, tells a story.

Ode. An Ode is a tribute or proclamation of love to something or someone.

Pastoral Poetry. Pastoral Poetry relates to the natural-given world.

Rhymed Poetry. Rhymed Poetry, again as the name suggest, simply is poetry with a consistent rhyming of words throughout.

Soliloquy. A Soliloquy is a monologue where a character speaks their thoughts aloud to themselves. They are especially useful in performances and plays.

Villanelle. A Villanelle is a 19-line poem that has many restrictions and requirements. It is one of the more difficult types of poetry to cultivate.

Top Tips for Young Writers

  • Write about a topic that inspires you, angers you, intrigues you or triggers an emotional response within you.
  • Be confident enough to sincerely express your thoughts, ideas and emotions through your poetry.
  • Experiment with different structures, patterns of sound, forms and writing styles.
  • Write multiple drafts and allow your story to evolve and change.
  • Do not write a poem so abstract that when people read it, they have no idea what is going on (ask you friends and family to read the poem before you publish it to ensure it makes sense to others).

Are you interested in improving your English results?
If so, our English teachers are ready to help! Our teachers are experienced and able to help build your foundation skills as well as help you excel and reach for top marks!

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