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Bob Holman & Margery Snyder

Where Are You When You’re Reading a Poem?

By January 16, 2014

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In Poetry a few years ago, Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket) published a charming essay on fitting poem-reading into his daily life: “Happy, Snappy, Sappy... There’s space in the living room for poetry.” Right up front, he announced, “I’ve never had any of the problems with poetry that most people do, i.e., that it’s boring and/or incomprehensible.... I find poetry actually has very little mystery compared to anything else....” Handler clearly has taken hold of the first principle in our list of attitudes and approaches to reading a poem: “Remember That a Poem Is a Communication,” i.e., don’t be intimidated.

For him, the problem was not how to read a poem, but where and when to do it, and the answer was: in his favorite chair in his living room on Saturday night, during the few minutes when he’s all ready to go out and and he’s waiting for his wife. It’s “a perfect slice of time,” just enough to pick up a slim volume, admire the cover, and read one or two poems, or reread one poem several times (another of the approaches we recommend to reading a new poem).

We’re curious about all of you—What’s your favorite place and time for poetry? Do you like to read in bed? Get a poem in email and take time out to read it on the computer? Read a poem on the bus on your way to work? Do tell!


January 17, 2011 at 3:30 pm
(1) Ginger Meeder says:

Whenever I get the chance to read poetry it is very rare indeed, but reading poetry for me is online or in the library, rare, brief but few, some poetic verse, with several lines, that will do.

January 17, 2011 at 3:44 pm
(2) Nancy Duci Denofio says:


As a poet for years, and one who has taught Author Presentation, I love to read at coffee houses, and poetry groups, libraries, cable networks, book stores, and even on the corner during an art event. I guess I love poetry, and it has been near and dear to my heart.

Sincerely, Nancy

January 17, 2011 at 9:46 pm
(3) The Pig Pen Poetry Forum says:

Usually I get the chance to read poetry from unpublished poets on our forum. I also (though not as often as I like) get the chance to read some of my favourite poets online, people like Rossetti and Teasdale.
Sadly i don’t have time to read books of paper any more.

January 19, 2011 at 10:08 pm
(4) Apryl Skies says:

“I find poetry actually has very little mystery compared to anything else….” ~Handler

I couldn’t have said it better myself. I enjoy reading poetry aloud when I am alone. It helps me to be able to slip into the slippers or boots of the poet.


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