The Next Chapter

Poetry should be enjoyed — and Adam Sol wrote a book to show you how

How a Poem Moves is a collection of essays that encourages readers to find the pleasure in reading poetry.
Adam Sol's new collection of essays gives readers a guide to enjoying poetry. (CBC)

This interview originally aired on June 1, 2019.

Adam Sol is an award winning Canadian-American poet and scholar. He has been longlisted for the CBC Nonfiction Prize and has won Ontario's Trillium Prize for poetry.

Sol knows that reading a poem can be an intimidating process. He's written a collection of essays, How a Poem Moves, which is a guide to learning how to enjoy poetry.

Dynamic text on the page

"One of the things I say to my students when I'm teaching poetry is that they shouldn't get all tensed up trying to read poems because they are worried about what a poem means. For me, admiring and enjoying how a poem moves across a page, how a poem moves us and how a poem moves from subject matter to other subject matters — that's a big part of the pleasure of the art form. What How a Poem Moves is trying to do is encourage pleasure in the art form for people whom feel like they have barriers to that pleasure."

The state of poetry now

"I don't worry about poetry's fate in the world. It takes on lots of different forms. If you include rap in poetry, poetry is really quite popular. Every wedding you go to, every public ceremony you go to, every funeral you go to, there's poetry. I'm not worried about the health of poetry. But I do think that people get soured on it in school because of this tension about how to do it 'properly.' We don't have the same kind of educational barriers to appreciating dance or appreciating painting."

Working out your imagination

"The imagination is there already, I think poems just feed it. Good poems give our brains the opportunity to do things that they already know how to do. The imagination is a muscle; it benefits from exercise. If the imagination also encounters different kinds of things to push against it, bend against it and move around it, it can only help."

Adam Sol's comments have been edited for clarity and length.