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Potty
March 18th, 2012, 06:16 AM
I've been holding off asking this question for a long time now but I really want to understand a poem I read on the forums recently:

Why can't I ever find the meaning in any poem I read? I haven't got a clue what most poems are about, could someone teach me to recognise what I'm supposed to be reading in a poem? Seriously I've seen people get praise for something that just confuses the hell out of me. Am I just stupid or is there a trick to being able to understand what a poem is supposed to be about?

The poem I want to understand is "Better than Banana peel" which has recently been posted. I was going to post this on that thread but felt it would be better suited on its own.

Olly Buckle
March 18th, 2012, 08:59 AM
Not sure I can help you, this may help someone who can,
http://www.writingforums.com/poetic-humour/128587-better-than-banana-peel.html

Bloggsworth
March 18th, 2012, 09:54 AM
Potty, this course of lectures might help:- Open Yale Courses | Modern Poetry (http://oyc.yale.edu/english/engl-310) Oh - And look up Arachibutyrophobia, and I think it should be palate not pallet.

Jon M
March 18th, 2012, 10:18 PM
Some poems only make sense if you know something about the author. Sometimes poems are intentionally obscure, or surreal. In these cases, it is not the reader's fault. So if you don't understand something, just ask the author, and compare their response and the poem's intended meaning to your personal observations of the poem.

Bloggsworth
March 18th, 2012, 10:52 PM
If I buy a poetry book in my local shop, I can't ask an Alabaman poet what he meant. Once the poem is released to the public it ceases to be the property of the poet, it has to stand on its own two feet.

Jon M
March 18th, 2012, 11:05 PM
If I buy a poetry book in my local shop, I can't ask an Alabaman poet what he meant. Once the poem is released to the public it ceases to be the property of the poet, it has to stand on its own two feet.This isn't your local bookshop. But I agree with the rest.

raunch30
March 24th, 2012, 05:39 PM
I don't think poems always have to be understood. sometimes when writing poetry I have just gone with a flow I felt somehow, it can't always be explained even if I don't understand it myself.
I happen to think the best poems aren't planned or written like a story, you just write. then without realising it you have a completed poem, it may be dark or vague or obscure to the point of confusing the author themself. But if the end result gets a good rating and people like it, just see it as a releasing of energy or feelings that you felt at the time.

Olly Buckle
March 24th, 2012, 06:34 PM
I happen to think the best poems aren't planned or written like a story, you just write. then without realising it you have a completed poemThis works if you are writing purely for yourself, for many people poetry is a cathartic experience. If you are writing poetry to be read by others there is no substitute for lots of hard work, considering, editing and revising. You also need to read other people's poetry and analyse it to absorb their methods and tricks of the trade so that, familiar with them, you can put your own signature on them and develop them in original ways.

CarsickPhil
April 20th, 2012, 01:10 PM
I'm pretty much new to poetry too. I'd tried reading poetry off and on for many years, but had not got that much out of it until I started to read poems aloud. For me it makes all the difference. Reciting a poem seems to make the meaning clearer, as the rhythm and sounds reinforce the meaning of the words. I personally like the ones that move me or resonate with me in some way after a just a very few readings. I then pick it up every few days to read it out loud again and learn a little more. I prefer this understanding to just drift into my mind through loose associations and feelings about the work rather than through some analytical process as if I was solving a crossword. I realise that this approach means that I miss out on gaining the most from some poems, but I feel than I gain enough and do so without undue intellectual strain. I hope this beginner's view is of some help.

DouglasMB
April 20th, 2012, 01:45 PM
I don't think poems always have to be understood. sometimes when writing poetry I have just gone with a flow I felt somehow, it can't always be explained even if I don't understand it myself.
I happen to think the best poems aren't planned or written like a story, you just write. then without realising it you have a completed poem, it may be dark or vague or obscure to the point of confusing the author themself. But if the end result gets a good rating and people like it, just see it as a releasing of energy or feelings that you felt at the time.

I like that... once I am able I will submit one of the few poems I have ever written that did not rhyme... I was deeply inspired to the point I had to stop what I was doing and just started writing that has only happend to me a few times in my life and never because of a poem... and even now each time I read it I am touched by the same feelings I had at the time. For me the poem means so much that I would not care if no one else got it... but if they did it would mean a great deal.

Kevin
April 20th, 2012, 01:46 PM
I'm pretty much new to poetry too. I'd tried reading poetry off and on for many years, but had not got that much out of it until I started to read poems aloud. For me it makes all the difference. Reciting a poem seems to make the meaning clearer, as the rhythm and sounds reinforce the meaning of the words. I personally like the ones that move me or resonate with me in some way after a just a very few readings. I then pick it up every few days to read it out loud again and learn a little more. I prefer this understanding to just drift into my mind through loose associations and feelings about the work rather than through some analytical process as if I was solving a crossword. I realise that this approach means that I miss out on gaining the most from some poems, but I feel than I gain enough and do so without undue intellectual strain. I hope this beginner's view is of some help. I have to agree. It's like using another part of your brain when you say it. Maybe it's the the musical part. I still do the puzzle solving part. I throw out a guess, and see if it fits. The guesses still come from the unconcious ( I think...)

Meego
May 2nd, 2012, 01:17 PM
Sometimes when I read a poem, I tried to put myself in the point of view of the main speaker.. In this case, its the person who owns the dog. Just like in a story, a poem makes the most sense if you can try to picture it as it happens. Sometimes this can be hard because you dont get the kind of detail and time you do with a story.

Out of a pure guess on this poem.. (as I am no expert)


Tell her anaesthetist;
now aluminum.
Hear to ear: ear to ear,
Thank you, dear.

I feel that she might be playing with the fact that dog cannot understand our language. So while the dog is licking the spoon full of peanut butter (probably excited if I use anthropomorphism, and assume that he also is trying to communicate) and I say anything, the dog could interpret that as anything. So the speaker says "anaesthetist" and then "aluminum" but it makes no difference to the dog, and either the dog says"Thank you, dear" or the dog interprets what the speaker says as "Thank you, dear."

But that is my best guess. :) I wonder if anyone else came up with something similar or completely different?