The Close Reading of Poetry and How It Can Help Develop an Individual's Poetic Aesthetic

The Close Reading of Poetry and How It Can Help Develop an Individual's Poetic Aesthetic

Or something like that. My typed notes, in hopes of clearing my head:

For me, "close reading" is more than just looking at a work from the New Criticism angle. It is done for the purpose of gathering meaning AND MORE. It is done for the same reason an aspiring inventor tinkers with existing inventions - taking them apart, inspecting the pieces, noting the functions, visualizing the thought process behind the original inventor in hopes of learning for this process.

A poet who closely reads another poet's work can operate in the same vain. Just as the aspiring inventor garners methods on how to perfect her currently failing inventions by closely examining other inventor's work, so might the poet look at someone else's poem so that she can have tools for revising or creating new poems that, to her satisfaction, "work."

Therefore, when looking at what is involved in the close reading of a poem, it isn't just the possible meanings of the poem that I will be looking to uncover through the close reading. It will be close readings to see how the poems functions as a poem in meaning, form (appearance) and substance (word choice & function).

All the while, I will have these over-arching guiding questions as I look into the specifics:
  • What moves me when I read a poem?
  • What excites me?
  • Conversely, what do I want to avoid doing?
  • What turns me off?
  • What bores me?
  • And, most importantly, what kinds of poems do I want to write?
  • What kind of poet am I?
In order to this, I'll have to start big then narrow down. I will "take apart" the whole of poetry-at-large -- discovering what basic things are involved in the making of a poem in general by reading the books about reading poetry -- then I want to take apart individual poems to help discover my answers to these over-arching questions.

To go back to the inventor metaphor, I want to fully explore the basics, as if reading David Macaulay's The Way Things Work from cover to cover. Then I want to take a specific invention, read physics journals about it while also in the lab taking them apart and putting them back together. With the end result being, I hope, that I would know how to build my own machines that work.

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