I recently took a stab at poetry reviewing after reading the poetry collection of Laura Solomon, The Hermit. This was a very taxing process and, to be honest, if I had realized how difficult writing a poetry review was I probably would not have taken on the challenge as the extremely inexperienced book reviewer I am. As I was preparing for my poetry review, reading through Solomon’s work over and over again, I understood the idea at the heart of the collection, but I was not excited or inspired in writing the review. I was looking for interesting uses of literary techniques and artistic plays on language. These key points were evident throughout the collection, but did not leave enough of an impact I thought. It was not until I began reading them out loud that I was truly intrigued.
I understand that the reader can visually digest the play on language, point out the use of poetic devices, and appreciate the visual flow of the wording. Some poetry is best taken in through visual exploration. On the other hand, one can better understand rhythm, the use of repetition in sounds, and the essence of the poem through its aural breaks and pauses. Some poetry is best taken in when heard. Solomon’s The Hermit seems to be one of them. Her use of different languages in poems such as Golosine, her choice of short verbs and adjectives to keep a certain pace, as in Tutti Fanno La Caca Perche Io No and I Explain Something About Spain to Emanuele Poeta, as well as many other precise choices are more obvious to the reader while being read aloud.
The idea that one has greater aesthetic pleasure through reading poetry aloud, whether the poet intended that pleasure or not, has been around for a very long time. Even poetry greats such as Shelley and Wordsworth have created works in this manner. Percy Shelley’s Ozymandias, for example, is packed with alliteration and assonance. This can be spotted even while reading it in silence, but the reader would not experience the sounds that play off of your tongue throughout the piece that way. When looking at William Wordsworth’s Upon Westminster Bridge the reader can experience the rhythm and the flow of the piece. The use of short words creates a pattern of sound that emphasizes certain words when vocalized. Famous poetry that is better read aloud does not stop there though.
This way of reading has personally helped me through a lot of poetry difficulties, such as what I encountered while writing my review on Laura Solomon’s The Hermit. It is a process that the average reader can practice to better understand the poem, or even to experience a new insight into the poetry. You would be surprised by how many poets use this process to better their piece, and you will never know the extent of it until you try!