Here’s a opinion about poetry written by James Baldwin, a C20th American writer. It considers the relationship between the poet and the reader and essentially articulates the point that I was trying to get across today; poetry can only come alive if the reader is ready to embrace it.
I also like this one from a speech he presented at New York’s Community Church in 1963:
“The poets (by which I mean all artists) are finally the only people who know the truth about us. Soldiers don’t. Priests don’t. Union leaders don’t. Only poets.”
The poets in your anthology have been selected precisely because they represent characters and voices. It’s your aim to explore how these voices are represented by the poets, how their stories make you feel. Read them regularly. Ask questions about them and seek the answers (notice the plural – there is no one answer). Talk to each other about them.
Revision guides are good, but they should only serve as a prompt for you do delve deeper and seek personal interpretations. My experience of marking exam scripts taught me that the students who spoke knowledgeably and fondly of the poems tended to do better than those who recited memorized and shallow interpretations.
That being said, we still have class time to revise the poems. If you have a particular poem/aspect of the exam where you feel less confident, talk to me or leave a comment below.