Approaching poems as utterances designed and packaged for pleasurable reanimation, How to Play a Poem leads readers through a course that uses our common experience of language to bring poems to life. It mobilizes the speech genres we acquire in our everyday exchanges to identify “signs of life” in poetic texts that can guide our co-creation of tone. How to Play a Poem draws on ideas from the Bakhtin School, usually associated with fiction rather than poetry, to construct a user-friendly practice of close reading as an alternative to the New Critical formalism that still shapes much of teaching and alienates many readers. It sets aside stock questions about connotation and symbolism to guide the playing out of dynamic relations among the human parties to poetic utterances, as we would play a dramatic script or musical score. How to Play a Poem addresses critics ready to abandon New Criticism, teachers eager to rethink poetry, readers eager to enjoy it, and students willing to give it a chance, inviting them to discover a lively and enlivening way to animate familiar and unfamiliar poems.
About the Author
Table of ContentsContents Acknowledgments Preface Introduction Chapter 1. Reanimation Chapter 2. Utterances Chapter 3. Signs of Life 1: Marks of Making, Signs of Design Chapter 4. Assignments, a Reading, and Some Warnings Chapter 5. Signs of Life 2: Speech Genres Chapter 6. Naming of Parts Chapter 7. Signs of Life 3: “Figures of Thought” or Gestures or “Interactional Devices” Chapter 8. Toward Tone Chapter 9. Playing Tone Chapter 10. Versification and Intonation 1: Lines and Stanzas Chapter 11. Versification and Intonation 2: Meter and Stress in Iambic Pentameter Chapter 12. Versification and Intonation 3: Meet the Other Feet Chapter 13. Climbing Mount “Lycidas” Chapter 14. Complications of Narration 1: “Goody Blake and Harry Gill” Chapter 15. Complications of Narration 2: “Simon Lee” Chapter 16. Complications of Narration on More Familiar Ground Chapter 17. “Attack of the Difficult Poems”: Charles Bernstein’s Experiments Appendix: A Bakhtin-School Pedagogy for Poetry Works Cited Index