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Author: John Timpane, Ph.D.
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The word poetry sends chills down the spines of many otherwise strong and
balanced people. Perhaps you have flashbacks of being called on in class to read
a poem aloud — and not having a clue what the words you were reading meant.
Or maybe you remember being required to write a poem, and even today you’re
still not exactly sure what sets a poem apart from any other bunch of words
thrown onto a blank page. Or perhaps you’re just curious about poetry, but
you’re intimidated by the huge number of poetry books in your local bookstore
No matter what your past experiences with poetry have been, you can set your
worries aside. To read and write poetry, you don’t have to join some secret club,
where you have to wear a moose hat with antlers, stand on one leg, and recite
secret ritual formulas in Greek . . . although, goodness knows, that would be
quite interesting, and we’d be happy to watch if you volunteer.
Poetry is something human beings have always done and always loved. If you
want to be one of them, come along. In this chapter, we give you a working
definition of what poetry is and fill you in on why people have been writing it
for thousands of years. We also let you know about some great places to turn if
you want to read more poetry — and while we’re on the topic, we give you a
quick guide for actually reading a poem. Finally, if all this talk about poetry has
inspired you (and we sure hope it has!), you can dive right in and write a poem of your own.