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Party Planning!
Great planning is the key to a successful party & a successful party means your guests will have memories to last a lifetime!

See our party planning section for helpful tips!
Confessional poetry gives you a very personal peek into the writer's life, and sometimes such details are unflattering to the writer and/or uncomfortable for the reader. This is in contrast to poetry that discusses public issues, with the poet using a detached persona, with minimal implicit hinting at their personal life. Like all literary movements, confessional poetry has its unique features and up and downs. In order to understand and enjoy reading it, you have to look at it deeply, so you can gain a truly deep appreciation of what you've just read. This article will guide you through the process.

Steps
1) - Read the particular poet's biography.
Every poem ever written has somehow been affected by the writer's life, but this is even more so with confessional poetry. The whole idea behind the movement is for the poet to honestly express his or her life stories as poetry, with little or no limitations
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2) - Look at the poet's family history.
Since everyone's been influenced by their family (like it or not), most confessional poets have probably taken from things related to their family and friends, like the actual people or certain events, along with the general family history.
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3) - Read the poem more than once.
After you have a good understanding of the poet as a person, interpreting the poem should come to you much easier. Not only will you have an idea of where the poem came from, but you'll also have an idea of the poet's intended audience and the emotion that they're trying to express.
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4) - Analyse the technical merits of the poem.
Confessional poets didn't just spill their guts onto paper and call it a day. They still paid careful attention to craft and construction. Look for metaphors, rhythm, and other poetic tools. See How to Analyze Poetry
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5) - Consider the poem in the context of the collection that it originally appeared in.
Many times the arrangement of a poetry collection isn't random or a coincidence. Usually, the organisation of the collection is meant to show a particular period of the poet's life, from beginning to end. Knowing this will give you an idea of what other poems in the book could be about, and therefore help you appreciate the poem that you've focused on the most.
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6) - Read reviews of both the poem and the book.
Reviews aren't meant to dictate your opinion of a particular work. Instead, they're meant to help you shape it, usually by revealing information that you may not have known or by bringing a different viewpoint that you may not have considered
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7) - Write your own confessional poetry.
You'll find that it's not easy to reveal your most personal thoughts and feelings. Read How to Practice Radical Honesty and give it a shot. You'll be amazed at how people react, and you may gain a new respect for confessional poets because you may have a better understanding of what they might have faced for being so open.
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Tips
Try to find a poet that you can relate to in some way. They might have written about experiences that you've been through. This will make their writing more accessible, understandable and enjoyable.

Re-reading the poem will also be easier if you can relate to the poem.
If you can, try to find audio recordings of the poet reading the poetry. This will help you even further in analyzing the emotional reasons for the poet's writing, and how they chose the intended audience.

YouTube has some recordings, and your local library might have a copy for you to borrow.

Pay attention to metaphors that re-occur constantly, or that somehow seem to be related to each other.

Try to find other media related to the author you're studying, such as biographies, films, etc.

Try reading some of the lesser-known poems of the collection. They're often just as good as the others, except that they weren't published in a magazine at some point.

Remember that for most of literary history writing a truly honest work based on one's own life was considered taboo. In a way, confessional poetry explored a different form of writing that had never been tried before when it originally started.

If the poet you're reading has also written novels, try reading them. As you gain insight into their other work, you will also gain added insight into their poetry. You might also understand the poet/novelist better, as well.

If you really enjoy reading poetry, subscribe to a poetry magazine. Confessional poetry is still influential in literary circles, so it should have some of that in the issue.
An exception to this would be a magazine dedicated explicitly to other forms, such as neo formalism.
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Warning
Don't worry too much about understanding confessional poetry. This movement can be much easier to understand than other movements in both poetry and the literary world in general.

Chances are, you will encounter different interpretations and opinions regarding any given work. Don't take this personally -- everyone has a right to interpret poetry and other creative art as they see fit.
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Need help planning a Poetry Party? Other How-To Articles

Party Planning
How to be Poetic
How to enjoy poetry
Be a responsible host
Make a non alcoholic coctail
How to host a dinner party
How to seat dinner guests
Stress Management







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Sources and Citations

  1. http://www.angelfire.com/zine/donnamford/confessional.html
  2. http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/5650

Article provided by wikiHow, a wiki how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Appreciate Confessional Poetry. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.

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