4 April - How to Read a Poem in a Non-Traditional Way - KarazwLaimoon

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4 April - How to Read a Poem in a Non-Traditional Way

Literary Club > Season 8 (Winter/Spring 2015)

Monday 4 April 2016 (7:00 - 8:15 pm - Open to all)

Title: How to Read a Poem in a Non-Traditional Way


(A thorough analysis and appreciation of Robert Frost's "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" used as the basis for a wider method to analyze and appreciate poetry).

Speaker: Akram Najjar

Language: English


The talk will start by spending 15 minutes inviting the audience to "interpret" or "analyze" the poem as they have been traditionally habituated to do. Here is the poem, as a prelude to the talk:

Readers are often encourage to "interpret" a poem. This is faulty as it implies a poet "hides" meaning in a poem waiting for a reader (or a critic) to unravel or interpret these meanings. Nothing could be farther from literary practice. Writers (Poets) fall under one practice: they apply literary transformations to literary components to arrive at a literary form: a poem, a play, a novel. (This also applies to music or cinema - just replace "literary" by "musical" or "cinematic").

The literary components include many devices that are not usually addressed by regular readers. These usually identify with the traditional view of a poet as a "center of feelings" dying to get rhymed. The talk concentrates on 4 areas:

Akram will present 3 concepts that he bases his talk on:

a) Tension and Resolution (from Music)
b) The 5 Codes by Roland Barthes (in his S/Z)
c) Machines by Deleuze and Guattari
One of these concepts, "tension and resolution", will be elaborated. It will show how a poet creates strands of tension that are delicately interwoven. The strands are braided together resulting in various outcomes:

a) They contribute to the final form that the poet is creating.
b) The generated tension becomes the driving force that urges the reader to read on.
c)  As the tension strands push the reader forward, there is always the implicit promise of a resolution, the few devices that wrap the poem and contribute to its final and beautiful form.

This combination of tension and resolution contributes to the aesthetic sense of pleasure.

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evenint (Robert Frost)

Click Here to hear Robert Frost reading his poem "live"

Whose woods these are I think I know.   
His house is in the village though;   
He will not see me stopping here   
To watch his woods fill up with snow.   

My little horse must think it queer   
To stop without a farmhouse near   
Between the woods and frozen lake   
The darkest evening of the year.   

He gives his harness bells a shake   
To ask if there is some mistake.   
The only other sound’s the sweep   
Of easy wind and downy flake.   

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,   
But I have promises to keep,   
And miles to go before I sleep,   
And miles to go before I sleep.

Robert Frost, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” from The Poetry of Robert Frost, edited by Edward Connery Lathem. Copyright 1923, © 1969 by Henry Holt and Company, Inc., renewed 1951, by Robert Frost. Reprinted with the permission of Henry Holt and Company, LLC.

Akram Najjar is a graduate of AUB in Physics and Mathematics (1966). In 1969, he completed a degree in Electronic Engineering in University of Hertfordshire, UK. His professional life was spent in Information Technology. When he was 11 years old he was sick for 6 months. His mother Souad introduced him to Classical Music, which became a life long love. (Later on joined by Rock and Jazz). This ordeal taught him how to read. From Greek Mythology, he learnt to love literature and philosophy, two subjects that he pursued all his life.

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