Close Reading - a presentation

Seeing the Brush Strokes: the close read of poetry and how it can help you be a better writer, reader and teacher

Before I polished and primped my critical thesis for my MFA in Creative Writing, I blogged the content of the project. In fact, those posts were the origin of this arts and culture blog. Below is one part of my third semester critical thesis project on the concept of "a close reading of poetry" and what it entails.

Seeing the Brush Strokes: A Seminar on Close Reading


In this seminar we will explore what is a close reading, how to do it, and the reasons why close readings are beneficial. A poem has many elements, both interior (what the poem is made from) and exterior (what the poem “says” and “does”). We will identify and define those elements. We will also explore and dissect them – through visualizing, drawing, discussing and other methods -- by closely reading the poem 'Blazing in gold...' by Emily Dickinson. We will also discuss how this intricate knowledge can help us as readers, writers and teachers of poetry. Note: while we’ll be working with poetry, what we discuss in the seminar can easily be adapted to other genres, too.


Required Reading:

Ellen Bryant Voigt , “The Flexible Lyric” (essay) from The Flexible Lyric
Robert Duncan, “Ideas on the Meaning of Form” from Fictive Certainties
Emily Dickinson, ‘Blazing in gold and quenching in purple'