5 hints to make reading poetry more enjoyable

5-hints-to-reading-poetry

As much as I do believe that technology has given us a lot – a sort of commodity and easiness in our lives, it is also taking from us. We are becoming more accustomed to live fast, do as much as possible while some little enjoyable things flash in a split second, that we are forgetting how they used to feel.

Scrolling down the silver screen, just superficial browsing of information without any deeper thought of what we are actually reading has transferred also on other types of written media. When it comes to poetry – it does require your whole being’s attention.

As discussed here on why people don’t like poetry, I want today to offer you some pointers that might help you enjoy reading poetry even more and discover other poets who’s work sometimes stays undeservedly neglected.

  1. Read the poem more than once. If possible, even try reading it out loud. Poetry differs from prose in sense that is not everything straightforward and open. Words are usually condensed and with each rereading we gain more clarity and can appreciate the message it carries. I have found that it is important not to force ourselves to understand everything, all at once. It is similar to saying ‘when the student is ready, teacher will appear’. For some poems we might not be ready to ‘digest the truth’ it has to offer, in one particular time. Not every poem is ‘our cup of tea’ and that is completely fine and acceptable. Our ultimate goal shouldn’t be to fathom what the poet wanted to say or what question the poem answers, but rather to let something in the experience of reading catches our intention, to find our own value and meaning.
  1. Be aware of your thoughts and feelings that arise while reading the poem. Is there a specific word or phrase you like/dislike? Look at the prevailing theme in the poem and examine those internal images poem is provoking in you.
  1. In our reading practice we may often encounter poems with strange structure, omitted syntax and broken grammar rules. As at the beginning such poem might look weird, focus on the words – as it creates greater emotional response in the reader. Poetry connects unrelated things in the most unusual ways, so stay open to any appearing ambiguity. Enjoy the metaphors, images, rhythm – be rather the appreciator of the artistic expression, than the critic.
  1. Is there a poem you find special and dear to you? Write your response to that poem. Or ‘upgrade’ the existing poem with your own life experiences, thoughts and feelings. In such way, not only you are enjoying reading your favorite poem, but you are working on your own writing skills.
  1. And the last hint I can offer you is in your own writing practice, try to mimic the style of your favorite poet. It will help you to better understand a poet’s intentions and how to express yourself in a different writing form.

Maybe C. Darwin’s quote  sums it all the best:

My mind has changed during the last twenty or thirty years… Now for many years I cannot endure to read a line of poetry… I have also almost lost any taste for pictures or music… My mind seems to have become a kind of machine for grinding general laws out of large collections of facts…

If I had to live my life again I would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music at least once every week… The loss of these tastes is a loss of happiness, and may possibly be injurious to the intellect, and more probably to the moral character, by enfeebling the emotional part of our nature.

The Autobiography of Charles Darwin, 1809-1882 (pp. 138-139)


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Poetic inspiration: Poetry is Art

poetry_art

Reading poetry is rather to ‘feel’ than

understand it. Once we accept that as a fact –

then poem becomes piece of art

we appreciate in a whole

different way.

Maja S. Todorovic


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6 tips to make the most of your poetry practice

6-tips-to-make-the-most-of-poetry

Do you remember your first time writing a poem? That feeling of possibility of written word acting like a bridge between your ordinary world and other limitless realities?…We can revive those moments each time we commit to writing or reading poetry, to have that freshness we are looking for in sometimes routine and monotones practice.

Here I will share few tips that I’ve found to work for me, each time I start to lose that feeling of connectedness and intimate conversation I need in order to make ‘poetry work for me’.

While writing:

  1. Always bring intention forward

This is one of the ways to shut down that judgmental part of mind and simply surrender yourself to words. Be open to whatever comes up – no matter how silly or unfocused it might sound. Instead of trying to control your thoughts, bring your intention to poem – let your poem take over and simply capture that true moment of your life. That kind of release can give you an emotional upheaval and leave you feel lighter and regenerated.

  1. Engage all your senses

You have your senses for a reason and use them to adequately express what ever you are experiencing in that moment. Your eyes, your mouth, your ears, your nose and your skin can tell the story – let them help you in your writing practice. The more details you put in describing that moment, the more authenticity your poem gets and portraits better experience to your reader. Poem takes a life on its own and reader  becomes the part of your world. In this way you are practicing also your objectivity, focus and ability to stay mindful.

  1. Entwine emotion in your writing

Often we fall into trap of writing about emotion, describing feelings and sensations instead of letting out words to translate our immersion into emotion. To have that internal satisfaction with your writing you need to write while reliving that particular feeling. It will make presented experience believable for your reader. Writing good poem is not always about using better technique, fancy words and adjectives. Sometimes is quite the opposite. Turning off that analytical side of mind and simply  diving deep into your subconsciousness is a creation of poem where you’ve just found that raw, unpolished diamond – valuable but one that needs right words to shine through.

  1. Proactively read poetry

It is well known fact that writers must read in order to  grow. But you can take some simple steps to make more of your reading time. One of the things I like to do is to rewrite in separate notebook poems I particularly like. Instead of having them in separate poetry collections or computer files in this way I can refer to them in one place whenever I like. Writing down poems by hand has another benefit for me as it allows me to more easily follow the rhythm of poem and simply feel it through my hand. It helps me also to remember phrases and words I would like to incorporate in my writing. As it is suggested in this article you can make lists of words you like, your own ‘poetry stacks’ that you can refer to as a resource for inspiration and writing prompts. I’ve been entertaining this idea for some time now and I think is worth a try.

5. Support poetry

in different creative ways by listening to it, reciting it, buying it and most importantly by sharing your own work. Submit and publish whenever opportunity presents itself – it’s a sure way towards impact and contribution we want to make. And as plus you improve your writing skills!

6.Find other interesting ways to incorporate more poetry in your life

That can be through studying, journaling, mindfulness practice…you can use it for brainstorming creative solutions to problems or simply to create an intimate and sincere gift for your loved one. Possibilities are endless, but the more you engage in this practice the more world around you will start to match your new found perspectives – don’t miss that beauty.


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INFOGRAPHIC: 9 benefits of reading poetry

As opposed to the most popular post on this blog ‘Why people don’t like poetry’, I have compiled according to my so far done research a little, simple (yet cute, you have to admit 🙂 ) infographic about beneficial aspects of reading poetry.  Many of us do like reading/writing poetry and we all know that it goes beyond pure use of certain words and language functions.

infographic_benefits_reading_poetry

I think this is especially interesting to the newcomers to this blog and how they are not that much acquainted with the previous work done, here are also links of the specific posts leading to creation of this infographic.

How poetry can stimulate creativity?

Poetry and Creativity: crucial blocks in building leadership qualities

Can poetry help you become a better strategist?

Are you a ‘deep reader’? 3 reasons why you should nurture this habit

How important is tacit knowledge for your creativity and one simple way to get more of it

Develop your own mindfulness practice for more patience and joy at work

Diversity at workplace: how to use poetry for improving communication and intercultural differences

Raise your emotional intelligence for creative entrepreneurial leadership- part I

Raise your emotional intelligence for a creative entrepreneurial leadership – part II

Are you an introvert? Poetry can help you access your inner treasures

Please, feel free to share this info as we together can inspire more people to make poetry essential part of their lives.


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Making Peace by Denise Levertov

As today we are celebrating a World Peace Day, I thought of sharing this beautiful words by Denise Levertov, “Making Peace” and through poetry take opportunity to first find peace within ourselves and simply let that energy transcend further, around us:

peace_poetry


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Poetic inspiration: Why reading?

reading_poetry

Reading not only satisfies your curiosity:

it enriches you inner world like

you lived 1000 lives before.

Maja S. Todorovic


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The Poetics of Impermenance: Jorge Luis Borges on the perception of time, learning and reading

borges

Jorge Luis Borges was a famous writer, essayist, and poet from Argentina. His first poem, ‘Hymn to the Sea,’ was published in the magazine Grecia. Today, he is recognized as one of the most influential figures in Argentinian literature. With wild imagination and innovative literary skills, he left his mark in the world literature as well – especially after receiving the first International Publishers’ Prize, the Prix Formentor in 1961. As fluent in many different languages, he was greatly influenced by European culture. What’s noticeable in his work is how he was preoccupied with the theme of time: the fictional world he was creating was very much inspired by esoteric readings in literature, philosophy, and theology.  In the universe of energy, mass, and speed of light, for him, the central question is time, not space. (source)

He writes:

Time is the substance I am made of. Time is a river which sweeps me along, but I am the river; it is a tiger which destroys me, but I am the tiger; it is a fire which consumes me, but I am the fire.

The impermanence of time and things was always a food for thought for him and a greatest value he saw in it, is an opportunity for learning, maturing and really living life:

After a while you learn the subtle difference
Between holding a hand and chaining a soul,

And you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning
And company doesn’t mean security.

And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts
And presents aren’t promises,

And you begin to accept your defeats
With your head up and your eyes open
With the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child,

And you learn to build all your roads on today
Because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans
And futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.

After a while you learn…
That even sunshine burns if you get too much.

So you plant your garden and decorate your own soul,
Instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.

And you learn that you really can endure…

That you really are strong

And you really do have worth…

And you learn and learn…

With every good-bye you learn.

He openly showed his love for reading and books.

Personally, I am a hedonistic reader; I have never read a book merely because it was ancient. I read books for the aesthetic emotions they offer me, and I ignore the commentaries and criticism.

Let others pride themselves about how many pages they have written; I’d rather boast about the ones I’ve read.

For every aspiring writer, is a prerequisite to be an avid reader – as from there, every emotion “read” and lived is a fertile soil for every future work. With each reading, book gains new meaning and offers completely new reality:

A book is more than a verbal structure or series of verbal structures; it is the dialogue it establishes with its reader and the intonation it imposes upon his voice and the changing and durable images it leaves in his memory. A book is not an isolated being: it is a relationship, an axis of innumerable relationships.

I think that the reader should enrich what he is reading. He should misunderstand the text; he should change it into something else.

For further diving into the topic of reading and its importance in our lives I recommend:

Are you a ‘deep reader’? 3 reasons why you should nurture this habit

Lean leader is a poetry reader.

How often do you read and what’s your favorite book? Please, share in the comments below.


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Are you a ‘deep reader’? 3 reasons why you should nurture this habit

lewis

With expanding technology, the way information is transmitted and ultimately perceived by the recipient is rapidly changing. Short messages, texting and visual content is replacing and interrupting the habit of slow reading, which is focused on understanding the meaning and reinforces deep immersion in the written word.

Raymond Mar, a psychologist at York University in Canada, and Keith Oatley, a professor emeritus of cognitive psychology at the University of Toronto explore how habit of slow, deep reading has influence on our behavior and perception of the outer world. Their studies have shown that this type of reading enables individuals easier to accept other peoples point of view.

In a study, researches Maja Djikic and Keith Oatley (2014) at University of Toronto, came to similar results, where they concluded that beside developing the empathetic characteristics, readers were able to act in more altruistic ways. Researches have gone even a step further where they claim that deep, immersive reading can lead to destabilizing personality, making it more receptive to inner experiences.

This type of enjoyment of exploring other people’s mental states can lead to something that is referred to as a pleasure reading. Slow, progressive reading gives deep readers time to reflect upon their reading, analyze and form their own opinions.

Even C.S. Lewis in his highly acclaimed work “An Experiment in Criticism” emphasize the importance of reading.

Those of us who have been true readers all our life seldom fully realize the enormous extension of our being which we owe to authors. We realize it best when we talk with an unliterary friend. He may be full of goodness and good sense but he inhabits a tiny world. In it, we should be suffocated. The man who is contented to be only himself, and therefore less a self, is in prison. My own eyes are not enough for me, I will see through those of others. Reality, even seen through the eyes of many, is not enough. I will see what others have invented…. In reading great literature I become a thousand men and yet remain myself. Like the night sky in the Greek poem, I see with a myriad eyes, but it is still I who see. Here, as in worship, in love, in moral action, and in knowing, I transcend myself; and am never more myself than when I do.

If you are already a ‘bookworm’ these findings probably haven’t surprised you. Yet we do need to remind ourselves from time to time that written shortcuts, and fast scrolling though a gigabytes of irrelevant information cannot replace a cozy afternoon with a book, that “intimate conversation” between you and your favorite author.

Come hither, Boy, we’ll hunt to Day
The Book-Worm, ravening Beast of Prey,
Produc’d by Parent Earth, at odds
(As Fame reports it) with the Gods.
Him frantic Hunger wildly drives
Against a thousand Authors Lives:
Thro’ all the Fields of Wit he flies;
Dreadful his Head with clust’ring Eyes,
With Horns without, and Tusks within,
And Scales to serve him for a Skin.
Observe him nearly, lest he climb
To wound the Bards of ancient Time,
Or down the Vale of Fancy go
To tear some modern Wretch below:
On ev’ry Corner fix thine Eye,
Or ten to one he slips thee by.

Thomas Parnell

Why self-help books will not help you to move ahead with your business

thoreau

About 10 years ago I was in a sort of a turning point in my life, when I decided to radically change the course of my professional orientation – from geology and natural sciences I swam into managerial waters. Somehow my easy-going, free research spirit started to be molded by managerial principles, business rules and ext. I was still involved with natural sciences, but on the other side of fence: instead of exploring I was learning how to manage resources and it included entirely different way of thinking… and enjoying company of different people.

My business school professors and colleagues had a list of books that if you want to survive in the business world is a MUST read. Some of them included famous Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill and The Secret by Rhonda Byrne. As much as I agree and wholeheartedly advocate the habit of positive thinking, I do find that these type of books have a certain limitations if you try to live by their implied rules and suggestions.

The real world does not operate as the self-help gurus would want you to believe. Focus on consumption, consumerism, acquiring more of material stuff, while neglecting spiritual and purposeful side of our existing in the world is only contributing to already soulless corporate system. We all want to be better than we are or used to be, but instead of money and material wealth to be our measure of success, we should focus on contribution, value, integrity and sharing.

To really live is to experience life in all its manifestations, but that’s not the obstacle to live in the state of love, empathy and caring. My reading list of books to help you move ahead is accordingly a little bit different.

I would recommend:

Walden by Henry Thoreau, which takes you on the journey of discovering real treasurers in life. It helped me to appreciate more life and enjoy the gifts we all have.

The second one is the Wendell Berry’s Collected Poems: 1957-1982. In one of his poems he writes:

So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.

Metaphorically speaking, poet encourages us to seek the meaning in things like family and spirituality, to look deep inside ourselves in order to find peace and harmony. In his poems, every word is entwined with love for nature and community and he writes with such sureness and agility, that is so easy to absorb any of his thoughts. It’s a great reminder that how we integrate ourselves in the world around us, what are our core beliefs and purpose is the measure of success. Finding purpose everyday in your life is your shortcut to success.