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A Guide from 'AllPoetry': How to Read Poems Out Loud

A Guide To Reading Poems Out Loud

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Why should we read poems out loud?
  • Poetry predates written languages - it was always read out loud.
  • The rhythm to a poem is much more evident
  • Awkward places or missing words are much more obvious
  • Putting each word through your breath & mouth & tongue is a powerful experience

How do you read a poem out loud well?

  • Scan the poem briefly, noting stanza sizes, commas/periods, line formatting, repeated lines, and reading the first line, last line, and title.
  • Be willing to look up words you don't understand. A quick google search will do.
  • Find the right tone of voice - some poems are angry "slam" poems, some are melancholy elegies. Something more neutral is usually best, but I often find lines I want to read with more emphasis (look for exclamation points)
  • Take your time - rushing out loud doesn't work like reading faster does. Commit to the process.
  • You don't need an audience - I usually read out loud to myself.
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