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Alliteration: Alliteration happens when words that begin with the same sound are placed close to one another. For example, “the silly snake silently slinked by” is a form of alliteration. Try saying that ten times fast. Allusion: An allusion happens when a speaker or character makes a brief and casual reference to a famous historical or literary figure or event. Anaphora: Anaphora involves the repetition of the same word or group of words at the beginning of successive clauses or sections. Think of an annoying kid on a road trip: “Are we there yet?

Trust us. Read in Crazy Places. Just like music, the experience of poetry changes depending on your mood and the environment. Read in as many different places as possible: at the beach, on a mountain, in the subway. Sometimes all it takes is a change of scenery for a poem to really come alive. Think Like a Poet. Here’s a fun exercise. Go through the poem one line at a time, covering up the next line with your hand so you can’t see it. Put yourself in the poet’s shoes: If I had to write a line to come after this line, what would I put?

Are there people there? What kind of objects do you find? Are there more verbs than adjectives? Do you detect a rhythm? Can you hear music? Is there furniture? Are there portraits of past poets on the walls? Are there traces of other poems or historical references to be found? Check out Shmoop’s “Setting,” “Symbols, Imagery, Wordplay,” and “Speaker” sections to help you get started. Don’t Skim. Unlike the newspaper or a textbook, the point of poetry isn’t to cram information into your brain. We can’t repeat it enough: poetry is an experience.

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