How to Read a Poem: Beginner’s Manual
by Pamela Spiro Wagner

First, forget everything you have learned,
that poetry is difficult,
that it cannot be appreciated by the likes of you,
with your high school equivalency diploma,
your steel-tipped boots,
or your white-collar misunderstandings.

Do not assume meanings hidden from you:
the best poems mean what they say and say it.

To read poetry requires only courage
enough to leap from the edge
and trust.

Treat a poem like dirt,
humus rich and heavy from the garden.
Later it will become the fat tomatoes
and golden squash piled high upon your kitchen table.

Poetry demands surrender,
language saying what is true,
doing holy things to the ordinary.

Read just one poem a day.
Someday a book of poems may open in your hands
like a daffodil offering its cup
to the sun.

When you can name five poets
without including Bob Dylan,
when you exceed your quota
and don’t even notice,
close this manual.

By TC Conner

Pro hobbyist photographer, drone enthusiast, musician, husband and father.

8 replies on “Instructional”

I will try to take your advice and read a poem per day. Indeed, I have been one of those to enjoy the rhythms of nature, but slow to recognize the connection between the visible wonders of the world and the written word.

W2W: The references to gardening were too great for me to resist posting this NPM poem. Ms. Terri: I hope the aspirin helped the “achle.” ;~)Ms. Marnie: I’ve been out of town for five days and have missed five poems! ;~(Ms. Susie: Sometimes I feel that way too. Ms. JulenaJo: Thanks for stopping and reading! Perhaps you’re inspired to write a poem or two now?

Dirt is sacred, though – handled with reverence by the people who love it, and make use of its bounty… 🙂 Great post, my friend. Poetry for the People!!! Happy Easter! I’m going to go take an aspirin for the “achle” I got working in my little patch of heaven!

“Treat a poem like dirt”? I was always taught to think of poetry as something almost sacred, spoken in special places by people of renown who are gowned and crowned with laurel leaves (or mortar boards). I do like that image of “fat tomatoes and golden squash…”

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