On Reading Your Poetry Aloud...to Yourself

Listening to the nuances in our own work, especially as we near the stage of finalizing a poem, is a strategy that many poets embrace and some avoid. I find it particularly valuable.

A great way to further refine your work is to listen critically to your own words. Read slowly, as if you were at a formal reading. Read softly as if pretending to prevent anyone who is standing further than a few inches away from hearing you. Pay attention to the cadences of the words you've chosen. Notice should you stumble over a word or phrase as you read. Note moments where an additional word could be replaced or deleted. Notice the entry points in a line where a detail or idea might be further explored. Consider how enjambments, which read well on the page, sound when read aloud within the context of the entire poem.  

I'll often read a piece aloud to myself many times before I declare it complete. Moments in a poem that are not rising off the page with the impact initially hoped for often come to light when a poem is read critically and aloud. 

Remember to relish all that sounds just right.  

I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Do you find reading your work aloud a valuable exercise?   

~Judith Lagana