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How to Approach Poetry

Posted by Jenny Mason on 18/4/2016

It can be difficult getting reluctant students interested in poetry, but there are many ways to draw them in.


Most people like songs and music. This should definitely be harnessed when looking at poetry. Especially if you are helping out with the understanding of poetic features. Say the feature you are trying to explain is a metaphor. Just have a listen and look at the lyrics in the current top 40 and you will quickly find many examples of modern poetic features.


In case you have forgotten what a metaphor is, it is a way of comparing something to something else by saying it IS that thing. For example ‘she is the sun’. A simile is also a comparison, but you might say ‘she is radiant like the sun’. Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, the Beatles, Dolly Parton, Coldplay, Justin Bieber, even ACDC use them often and it is a great way to show kids how effective they are.


In poetry education, students need to not only write poetry, but recognise poetic literary features in existing poems. Print out the lyrics of a song and have them highlight the various features. This is an easy and practical way to have them identify them and understand what the author achieves by using these techniques. Onomatopoeia and alliteration are other techniques that are easy to point out in song.


Onomatopoeia is a technique of using words that sound like their meaning. For example bang, crash, splash etc. Alliteration is the use of the same letter in consecutive words, ‘Bad Blood’ by Taylor Swift springs to mind. I have always found that if you can find and show a modern point of reference to students, they are much more interested in seemingly dry subject matter and passion is contagious, if you are excited when talking about poetry or lyrics, they should be too.

Author: Jenny Mason

Jenny Mason

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