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Molly Peacock has already brought poetry into people's lives with her sold-out lectures, NPR appearances, and the creation of the "Poetry in Motion" program in the subway systems of major cities. Now she offers a book that strips away poetry's scary mystique, introducing readers to its pleasures and inspiring them to form their own poetry circles with friends. Poetry is an Molly Peacock has already brought poetry into people's lives with her sold-out lectures, NPR appearances, and the creation of the "Poetry in Motion" program in the subway systems of major cities. Now she offers a book that strips away poetry's scary mystique, introducing readers to its pleasures and inspiring them to form their own poetry circles with friends. Poetry is an invitation into new worlds both interior and exterior -- and with this delightful volume, Molly Peacock shows us how to accept that invitation.


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Molly Peacock has already brought poetry into people's lives with her sold-out lectures, NPR appearances, and the creation of the "Poetry in Motion" program in the subway systems of major cities. Now she offers a book that strips away poetry's scary mystique, introducing readers to its pleasures and inspiring them to form their own poetry circles with friends. Poetry is an Molly Peacock has already brought poetry into people's lives with her sold-out lectures, NPR appearances, and the creation of the "Poetry in Motion" program in the subway systems of major cities. Now she offers a book that strips away poetry's scary mystique, introducing readers to its pleasures and inspiring them to form their own poetry circles with friends. Poetry is an invitation into new worlds both interior and exterior -- and with this delightful volume, Molly Peacock shows us how to accept that invitation.

30 review for How to Read a Poem...: and Start a Poetry Circle

  1. 4 out of 5

    Mabel

    An intellectual rating rather than an emotional one. Peacock's voice is sometimes too "poety" to me, and I don't always agree with her analysis, but she provides a lot of good observations, and I wish I could read a poem as in-depthly as she does. An intellectual rating rather than an emotional one. Peacock's voice is sometimes too "poety" to me, and I don't always agree with her analysis, but she provides a lot of good observations, and I wish I could read a poem as in-depthly as she does.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Peggy

    In a collection of well-chosen poems, Peacock describes craft secrets that both celebrate and demystify poetry's power. I was happy to find some favorites, like Kenyon's "Let Evening Come" and Swenson's "Question," as well as poems new to me, "Wulf and Eadwacer" by Anonymous and Larkin's "Talking in Bed." Peacock is an enjoyable companion in the way she sneaks literary concepts into a chatty conversation. Since the book was published in 1999, those interested in the same kind of informal approac In a collection of well-chosen poems, Peacock describes craft secrets that both celebrate and demystify poetry's power. I was happy to find some favorites, like Kenyon's "Let Evening Come" and Swenson's "Question," as well as poems new to me, "Wulf and Eadwacer" by Anonymous and Larkin's "Talking in Bed." Peacock is an enjoyable companion in the way she sneaks literary concepts into a chatty conversation. Since the book was published in 1999, those interested in the same kind of informal approach to contemporary poetry might enjoy reading Devin Kelly's online newsletter, Ordinary Plots: Meditations on Poems + Verse.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Patricia

    I met Molly Peacock in September and am on a quest to read all her books. This little volume holds is a full semester of poetry classroom worked into its 211 pages. On my first read through, my favorite section is I n the chapter titled Joy. Peacock notes (p189-191) that poet Elizabeth Bishop uses every type of punctuation in traditional use in her poem JOY. Peacock writes,” Inside parenthesis Bishop makes her jokes—(part of the set) she says raising an eyebrow. Parentheses are like two raised I met Molly Peacock in September and am on a quest to read all her books. This little volume holds is a full semester of poetry classroom worked into its 211 pages. On my first read through, my favorite section is I n the chapter titled Joy. Peacock notes (p189-191) that poet Elizabeth Bishop uses every type of punctuation in traditional use in her poem JOY. Peacock writes,” Inside parenthesis Bishop makes her jokes—(part of the set) she says raising an eyebrow. Parentheses are like two raised eyebrows set side by side to contain in print the very comment that the eyebrows would accompany in speech.” I’ll never look at parenthesizes the same way again. In the section How to start Poetry Circle, Peacock has only 3 rules. Start small, share the responsibility, and Limit the frequency. I like her idea of meetings seasonally on the equinox and solstice. This book isn’t going to the Library book sale any time soon.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Mandie Hines

    I love this book. Not only do I love the way she breaks down each poem, adding layers of discovery to each piece, but the way she speaks about poetry is so beautiful. I can only hope that one day someone speaks so eloquently about my poetry. This book is an insightful look into the poems she’s selected, and she speaks to poetry as a whole as to how it works, how it flows, what gives it a heartbeat. It’s also inspiring and made me excited to write poetry, at times to where I had to rein in the ur I love this book. Not only do I love the way she breaks down each poem, adding layers of discovery to each piece, but the way she speaks about poetry is so beautiful. I can only hope that one day someone speaks so eloquently about my poetry. This book is an insightful look into the poems she’s selected, and she speaks to poetry as a whole as to how it works, how it flows, what gives it a heartbeat. It’s also inspiring and made me excited to write poetry, at times to where I had to rein in the urge to set down the book and start writing myself. I know I’ll go back and read this book again to fully immerse myself in her words. For the novice to the well-published poet, from the casual reader to those who love poetry, I think there is something for everyone who enjoys poetry in here.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Rochelle Jewel Shapiro

    This book is for anyone who loves poetry or who has ever wanted to. Peacock takes you deeply into the life of a number of poems, helps you get into the structure, the music, and the meaning in a very intimate way.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    this book was my *happiest accident* ever. Ordered a different book online, and seller mailed me this instead. It's a delightful introduction to poetry and 10 lovely poems. Poetry Circle, anyone? :) this book was my *happiest accident* ever. Ordered a different book online, and seller mailed me this instead. It's a delightful introduction to poetry and 10 lovely poems. Poetry Circle, anyone? :)

  7. 4 out of 5

    Michal

    Also see A Poetry Home Repair Manual.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Ellen

    been 'currently reading' this book for six years. just sayin'. . . . been 'currently reading' this book for six years. just sayin'. . . .

  9. 4 out of 5

    Marilyn Kriete

    This book made me fall in love with poetry all over again, and with each poem Peacock features in her 14 chapters. I have yet to start my own poetry circle, but if/when I do, this will be my guidebook. Peacock's insights coincided with my own return to writing poetry. I love the varied selection of poems she includes in this volume, and her ability to shine fresh light onto poems I might never have appreciated or pondered. This book made me fall in love with poetry all over again, and with each poem Peacock features in her 14 chapters. I have yet to start my own poetry circle, but if/when I do, this will be my guidebook. Peacock's insights coincided with my own return to writing poetry. I love the varied selection of poems she includes in this volume, and her ability to shine fresh light onto poems I might never have appreciated or pondered.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Diann Blakely

    Intended for the burgeoning members of book clubs, though, unfortunately, a volume that never seems to have been grasped to the hearts of such gatherings, Peacock's is a selective guide. She elects to discuss only 13 poems, recognizing the value of focus, especially for those avid general readers who avoid poetry because they think it’s too difficult or too inaccessible. Her chapters—replete with personal anecdotes, casual erudition, and keen personal insight—-center around “talismanic” poems li Intended for the burgeoning members of book clubs, though, unfortunately, a volume that never seems to have been grasped to the hearts of such gatherings, Peacock's is a selective guide. She elects to discuss only 13 poems, recognizing the value of focus, especially for those avid general readers who avoid poetry because they think it’s too difficult or too inaccessible. Her chapters—replete with personal anecdotes, casual erudition, and keen personal insight—-center around “talismanic” poems like Gerard Manley Hopkins’ “No Worst, There Is None” and Elizabeth Bishop’s “The Filling Station,” which have provided her with comfort and enlightenment, respectively, in difficult times. A conclusion offers sound and alluring advice about forming “poetry circles,” in which members meet as frequently as once a month or as sporadically as once a season. As past president of the Poetry Society of America, Peacock helped launch such groups, and she advises interested readers to call the PSA at 1-888-USA-POEM or visit the association’s Web site at www.poetrysociety.org for information. In fact, not merely fondness but love provides Peacock with her vocabulary. But like love of a human being, love of poetry can result only from the vital, active participation of the reader with the writer. Such meetings allow us to be complicit in the creative process and to experience intimacy, intensity, and immediacy—words that occur over and over again. Peacock says she slowly discovered that reading a particular poem means being its partner, with the result that an “understanding is gained just the way a love relationship is deepened—through the blind delight of examining it with the senses and the intellect all at once.” And yet the time for such examinations seems in increasingly short supply for most Americans. All the more reason for them to turn to poetry. As Peacock puts the matter, “The resurgence of poetry now, when a decade ago some were pronouncing it dead as a genre, does have everything to do with time, even though talisman poems seem to stop time. In a cybermoment when quickness is everything...poetry, the screen-size art, provides depth. It is both brief and profound. Our hunger is for levels of meaning, but our need is instant. Poetry is the art that offers depth in a moment, using the depth of a moment...[to] pierce our busyness.” (originally published in the NASHVILLE SCENE)

  11. 5 out of 5

    Serena

    "I found grown -up poetry to be as spongy as a forest floor--your foot sinks into the pine needles, the air smells mushroomy and dank, and filtered light swirls around you till you're deep in another state." (Page 8) Molly Peacock's How to Read a Poem . . . and Start a Poetry Circle provides a great deal of information in just 200 pages. From how to interpret poems to how to create a poetry circle and join the ranks of those dipping their feet into the poetic pool. "Yet as strangely contemporary a "I found grown -up poetry to be as spongy as a forest floor--your foot sinks into the pine needles, the air smells mushroomy and dank, and filtered light swirls around you till you're deep in another state." (Page 8) Molly Peacock's How to Read a Poem . . . and Start a Poetry Circle provides a great deal of information in just 200 pages. From how to interpret poems to how to create a poetry circle and join the ranks of those dipping their feet into the poetic pool. "Yet as strangely contemporary as this art has become, it involves a timeless childhood pleasure: rereading." (Page 13) Peacock clearly knows her stuff from writing verse to examining its structure and images. She postulates that any poem can be examined in three simple steps. Examine the poem line-by-line, which she notes is considered the skeleton of the poem. Examine the sentence, which readers could consider the muscles of the poem. Finally, readers should examine the image or nervous system of the poem. However, Peacock does not suggest that readers pick apart each element of a poem and discuss it ad nauseam. "This shimmering verge between what is private and what is shared is the basis of a poetry circle. A poetry circle (which is very different from a writing workshop, where people bring in their own poems to be critiqued by one another or by a teacher) occurs when the mutual reading of poetry is at hand. For me, the circle has its beginnings in the side-by-side reading of a poem by two people." (Page 16) A number of chapters examine a number of poems, their images, their rhythms, and their internal music. Beyond the application of these techniques on actual poems, Peacock illustrates the beauty of poetry circles, how to start poetry circles, and provides readers with resources to begin their own poetry circles and how to select poetry for discussion in these circles. "You never know what's going to catch your finger--or your eye. You needn't ever be comprehensive about a book of poetry." (Page 191) These groups are not like book clubs where copious notes should be taken and entire books should be read. The purpose of a poetry circle is to generate a mutual respect and joy for each line of verse.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lia

    I was interested in both learning more about reading poetry and in how to start a poetry circle (mostly the circle), and this book is juicy on the former, but parched on the latter. That bit was squished into one short chapter at the end, mostly about choosing the frequency of meetings (monthly or seasonal seems best). However, the delving into poetry section skipped analyzation and technical terms and went about chewing over some great poems with an artist's eye, which was fantastic. I really e I was interested in both learning more about reading poetry and in how to start a poetry circle (mostly the circle), and this book is juicy on the former, but parched on the latter. That bit was squished into one short chapter at the end, mostly about choosing the frequency of meetings (monthly or seasonal seems best). However, the delving into poetry section skipped analyzation and technical terms and went about chewing over some great poems with an artist's eye, which was fantastic. I really enjoyed reading it, but now I still need to find something that talks more about forming a poetry circle. Anyone up for devouring delicious poetry over noms with me? :)

  13. 5 out of 5

    Matthew

    My only complaint of this book is the title -- which made me think the book might be one of those how-to guides that sticks to basic advice about poetry (like "show don't tell") and then encourages the reader to pursue community rather than publishing credits. Instead, this book is a talented poet sharing great commentary on selected poems. The author calls her selections "talismans" but the point is that they are poems which can be appreciated on many levels (and with many visits). I would recomm My only complaint of this book is the title -- which made me think the book might be one of those how-to guides that sticks to basic advice about poetry (like "show don't tell") and then encourages the reader to pursue community rather than publishing credits. Instead, this book is a talented poet sharing great commentary on selected poems. The author calls her selections "talismans" but the point is that they are poems which can be appreciated on many levels (and with many visits). I would recommend this book to someone interested in poetry.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jack Coleman

    Iam not into poetry circles as yet.Its hard enought to find anyone who gives a damn about the language they speak,never mind reading poetry. I read poetry from Shakespear to unknowns and its wonderful.Try it,try this book. Library book sale find.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    Molly Peacock does a great job of introducing poetry reading, and by the end of the book, you will be eager to find some great collections on your own. She picks great poems to dissect, and while I found her to be a bit verbose at times, she is an excellent teacher. An enjoyable read!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Taylor Collins

    What a treat to read this. "When Evening Comes" and "The Filling Station" would be my first choice if I were going to start a poetry circle. Maybe I'll start a poetry circle soon. The world can't have enough circles or poetry! What a treat to read this. "When Evening Comes" and "The Filling Station" would be my first choice if I were going to start a poetry circle. Maybe I'll start a poetry circle soon. The world can't have enough circles or poetry!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Janet

    This is good one.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Mike Kruse

    Hey, April is Poetry Month. I need to read more poetry. How about you?

  19. 5 out of 5

    Cristina

    I liked the way Molly broke this book into chapters that followed some aspect of the poem. She offered her favorite poems and great anecdotes. My favorite was her one-time encounter with Jane Kenyon.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

  21. 5 out of 5

    Mary Lou

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kristin

  23. 5 out of 5

    Asana

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jan Mulligan

  25. 5 out of 5

    Olive

  26. 4 out of 5

    Peter Carlson

  27. 4 out of 5

    Whitney Borup

  28. 4 out of 5

    Amy

  29. 5 out of 5

    Eagranie

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kelly Halley

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