What is a poem? How do poems sound and look different than other forms of writing? Poetry may tell a story, convey ideas, offer vivid, unique description, or express inward emotional or psychological states. Poetry stands apart in how it pays particularly close attention to words themselves: their sounds, textures, patterns, and meanings. Poetry often presents language that requires deciphering, like puzzles of meaning waiting to be solved.
In this interactive lesson, discover how literary techniques like figurative language, imagery, and symbolism contribute to the overall meaning of a poem. Explore how a poet establishes and builds on a theme. Learn how to tell the difference between tone and mood. Through a close reading of Maya Angelou’s famous poem “Caged Bird” (1983), practice unpacking the language of poetry while learning about some of the various tools a writer can utilize when writing a poem.