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How To Read a Poem

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How To Read a Poem

Weekend All-Day Lecture/Seminar

Saturday, January 8, 2022 - 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. ET
Code: 1H0652
This program is part of our
Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.
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How do we unlock the mysteries of a great poem? What are the invisible patterns and hidden music that bring words to life? And how can the ability to read poems closely and deeply be applied when trying to interpret the texts of other disciplines—or even the experiences of everyday life?

Join Joseph Luzzi, professor of comparative literature at Bard College, in the fascinating world of poetic form as he illuminates internal mechanisms and strategies that poets employ in their art. Gain a better understanding of the processes during close readings of selected works by Dante, Petrarch, Louise Labé, John Milton, William Wordsworth, Emily Dickinson, William Butler Yeats, and others.

10–10:45 a.m.  Understanding the Structure of a Poem

Review of the key formal elements of poetry.

11 a.m.–12:15 p.m.  Ancient to Medieval Poetry

Differences between ancient and modern poetry, focusing on issues of genre (epic, lyric, etc.). The groundbreaking techniques of medieval and Renaissance poets, including Dante, Shakespeare, Milton, Petrarch, and Donne.

12:15–12:45 p.m.  Break

12:45–1:45 p.m.  Romantic to Modern Poetry

The shift to Romantic poetics and its emphasis on voice and individual perspective. The modernist poets T. S. Eliot, Wallace Stevens, and W. B. Yeats.

2–3 p.m.  Contemporary Poetry

Contemporary and more recent poets: their technical tools and strategies. What the formal preferences and styles of contemporary poets mean for the study of poetry today.

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