Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Understanding Poetry: Puns, Allusions, and other word secrets

Understanding Poetry: Puns, Allusions, and other word secrets

Jennifer Fandel
For ages 12 and up
The Creative Company, 2005   ISBN: 978-1583413418

Often we take words for granted. They are there to impart information we tell ourselves. And yet, there is more to the story than this. All you have to do is to look at poetry and you will see that here, without a doubt, words are used for much more. They are put together in unusual ways to convey feelings, to present images, and to give the reader a sense of things.

Poets use many word tricks to do this. One such trick to use figurative language. Another is to use words in a very distinctive and unusual way. Yet another is to use puns which often inject humor into a poem. Illusions and symbols take everyday words and give them a bigger and more powerful meaning. A poet may also play around with the “voice” of his or her poem to make it more accessible, more personal, more distant, or more compelling.

For each poetic ‘trick’ mentioned in the text the author of this exceptional book provides the reader with a sample poem or poems to help the reader see what she means. She discusses the ideas clearly and manages to show her readers how versatile words are. They can be made to do all kinds of things to make poems more meaningful, more amusing, more personal, and more memorable.

The author writes in a very intimate fashion, encouraging her readers to think about poetry in a new way. She asks questions, makes suggestions and always encourages her readers to be a part of the learning process, a process which is both interesting and entertaining. Finally the author offers her readers some activities that they can try, activities which will let them practice and use many of the word tricks which she describes in the text