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National Poetry Month 2018: How to Read a Poem

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The best way to get into the spirit of National Poetry Month 2018 is to dive into some great poetry, both modern and classic. But for uninitiated poetry readers, this can be a little intimidating. If you are new to reading poetry, want to start, or are looking for a refresher, check out this helpful article from How to Read a Poem.

If a poem is “play” in the sense of a game or a sport, then you enjoy that it makes you work a little, that it makes you sweat a bit. Reading poetry is a challenge, but like so many other things, it takes practice, and your skills and insight improve as you progress. –From  How to Read a Poem.

Here is a link to a poem called I Want to Save This Whale by Lisa Olstein that you can try your new poetry reading skills on. It packs a great deal of imagery into a small number of lines, making it easy to explore for anyone who is just beginning to read poetry. It is taken from Olstein’s Book, Late Empire. 

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Late Empire by Lisa Olstein

“In her fourth book―a gorgeous call-to-arms in the face of our current social and political conditions―Lisa Olstein employs her signature wit, wordplay, candor, and absurdity in poems that are her most personal―and political―to date. Like a brilliant dinner conversation that ranges from animated discussions of politics, philosophy, and religion to intimate considerations of motherhood, friendship, and eros, Olstein’s voice is immediately approachable yet uncomfortably at home in the American empire.”–Taken from
 provides a database of poems that you can search for based on occasions, themes, poets, styles, and more. Click here to find more poems!



As you continue to improve your poetry reading skills, it’s important to remember that inspiration for great poetry can come from anywhere. To demonstrate that, here is a video of Nick Offerman (Parks and Rec’s Ron Swanson) reciting an original slam poem about bacon.


Thanks for reading!

-George, FTPL

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