I went recently on a shopping spree through the highstreet charity shops in my area and I spent a small fortune (£2.50 – sorry Mr Fry I’m not usually that tight) on Stephen Fry’s book The Ode Less Travelled
For those not yet familiar with the author’s name (how dare you?- here a huge consternation mark not yet invented) here is a very short presentation stolen from an unreliable but yet handy site called Wikipedia (I bet you know this one):
The book is about poetry but let me re-quote Independent on Sunday:
“Fry’s extraordinary book is an idiot’s guide to the writing of poetry…You can’t but marvel at Fry’s easy familiarity with the rictameter and the rondeau redouble and applaud the energy of his evangelistic zeal”
Here is a taster from one of the three golden rules of approaching poetry (1. take your time; 2. don’t be afraid; 3. always have a notebook with you) set by the master himself:
In our age one of the glories of poetry ist that it remains an art that demonstrates the virtues and pleasures of TAKING YOUR TIME. You can never read a poem too slowly, but you can certainly read one too fast.
Poems are not read like novels. There is much pleasure to be had in taking the same fourteen-line sonnet to bed with you and reading it many times over for a week. Savour, taste, enjoy. Poetry is not made to be sucked up like a child’s milkshake, it is much better sippped like a precious malt whisky. Verse is one of our last stands against the instant and the infantile. Even when it is simple and childlike it is be savoured.
Always try to read verse out loud: if you are in a place where such a practice would embarrass you, read out loud inside yourself (if possible, moving your lips). Among the pleasures of poetry is the sheer physical, sensual, textural, tactile pleasure of feeling the words on our lips, tongue, teeth and vocal cords.
If he was a preacher in any church or religion I would have paid attention volens-nolens to what he had to say; that convincing is he when speaking about his long lasting love: poetry