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Elite Literary Book Group Presents Poetry Focus

Elite Literary Book Group Presents Poetry Focus

By Elite Literary Book Group
The Elite Literary Book Group is dedicated to helping students and teachers and readers to re-encounter the wisdom of literature and find meaningful ways to integrate that encounter into their lives. The Poetry Focus podcast presents poems along with a particular focus point for readers to begin an analysis and understanding of the poem. Join us on our website as we cover a range of topics for teachers and advanced students who want to work with great literature .
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Poetry Focus Podcast #27: Audience and Robert Browning's "My Last Duchess"
Who else is listening in on a poem besides us as a reader? Today we look at Robert Browning's dramatic monologue "My Last Duchess." The duke in the poem is speaking aloud to some unnamed but not unknown guest. What must that listener's reaction be to the story unfolfing between the lines of the Duke's gallery tour?
October 06, 2020
Poetry Focus Podcast #26: Translations and Rilke's "The Panther"
In today's podcast we examine translations and how they can differ. We'll be looking at four different versions of Ranier Maria Rilke's "The Panther." Each of the translations offers a different insight into how the subject of Rilke's poem can be understood. It works best if you download an view a copy of the four versions at our web site . The translations can be found in the "Tools for Learning" drop down menu. You'll also find a host of other resources on the site to help you with your study of and writing about great literature.
June 30, 2020
Poetry Focus #25: Metaphor and Margaret Atwood's "[you fit into me]"
We take a second look at metaphor in this episode using Margaret Atwood's "[you fit into me]", a deceivingly complex poem. Notice how Atwood uses a very simple structure--two stanzas, each composed of a simple couplet. This structure is plain and sets us up to receive two contrasting similes related to a single subject: the relationship between the speaker and another person. You an find a copy of the poem to download and work with as well as other materials to help you in your study and understanding of great literature at our website Thanks for listening.
April 04, 2020
Poetry Focus #24: Imagery and Elizabeth Bishop's "The Fish"
In today's episode we take a look at how imagery can impact the encounter with a poem. If effective, as it is in Bishop's poem, the reader is able to sit alongside the speaker and experience as the speaker the events in the poem. Imagery rarely occurs effectively in isolation, instead the skilled poet is able to integrate other figures of speech like metaphor to transport the reader into the imaginative flow of the poem. You can find a copy of the poem as well as other resources at our website Look under our "Tools for Learning" to find a wealth of helpful materials.
March 30, 2020
Poetry Focus #23: Words and Tessimond's "Not Love Perhaps"
Today's poem and talk are about how particular words, placed in particular places within a poem can have a resounding impact on the overall work. Think of a single play in a long game which changes everything. The direction, the tone, the subject and our understanding of the poem is moved, shifted, altered by the placement and use of a key word or two.
March 16, 2020
Poetry Focus #22: Point of View: Mary Oliver's "Wild Geese"
Point of view can be used to move the reader into close communion with a poem. Listen to how Mary Oliver makes this happen in her poem "Wild Geese." Find a copy of the poem as well as other resources at Thanks for listening.
March 14, 2020
Poetry Focus #21: The Elegy and Ben Jonson's "On My First Son"
We continue to explore the poetic firm of the elegy. Ben Jonson's "On My First Son" makes use of the apostrophe to draw the reader into communion with the speaker's grief. Find a copy of the poem and other resources at
March 13, 2020
Poetry Focus #20: The Elegy and Tony Harrison's "Timer"
This episode we focus on the elegy as we offer a reading of Tony Harrison's "Timer". Find a copy of the poem as well as a host of other resources for your study of literature and writing at our website Thanks.
March 13, 2020
Poetry Focus #19:Repetition and Shelley's "Prometheus Unbound"
In this episode we look at repetition and how Percy Shelley makes an abundant and unusual use of this concept to create movement in his poem. You can find additional resources on this poem and other literary works at
March 12, 2020
Poetry Focus #18: Conceit and Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 130”
In today’s podcast, we explore the metaphor a little deeper as we talk about the conceit. The poetic conceit is an exaggerated form of the metaphor. It stretches the reader to make the imaginative leap to connect the tenor and the vehicle of a metaphor. Think of it as the marriage of hyperbole and metaphor. Notice how William Shakespeare’s Sonnet 130 plays on this idea and lampoons his fellow poets who overuse the technique almost making their love poems absurd. Shakespeare rescues all at the end in his final couplet. Look for a copy of the poem as well as a host of other materials on close reading and effective writing at our website at
October 12, 2019
Poetry Focus #17: Imagery with Stanley Kunitz's "The Round"
In today's podcast we take another look at imagery as we read a poem from Stanley Kunitz entitled "The Round." Let's focus on how the poet creates an effective image by adding texture to his work. Travel with the poet's eye as he works his way from the outward appearance of an encounter with a flower to a deeper, more magnified description of being captured by a muse. Kunitz then creates a shift by changing location as he moves from the out-of-doors inspiration to take up the bleak task of writing. The poem also manages to address the difficulty of the writing task once the inspiration has gone. You can find a copy of this poem as well as all the others used in our podcast at Also find a host of other valuable resources to help you in your close reading and preparation for the study of great works of literature. See you next time.
September 22, 2019
Poetry Focus #16: Repetition and Randall Jarrell's "Well Water"
Today's poem is from American poet Randall Jarrell. It's entitled 'Well Water" and speaks really to the repetition of daily life that, despite its inanity at times brings valuable refreshment. Note the use of repeated words throughout the poem and focus on how this particular brand of repetition helps us as readers to the metaphor Jarrell is using to compare what he refers to in the poem as "the dailiness of life" to the purifying effect of common well water. You can find a copy of this poem to work with on our website at as well as a host of other resources on deep reading and writing about classical literature. 
September 19, 2019
Poetry Focus #15: Structure and Billy Collins' "The Names"
Billy Collins was the Poet Laureate of the United States at the time of 9-11. His poem "The Names" commemorates that event. In a powerful display of national grief Collins uses a simple structure of the litany to build a powerful and unifying sense of the grief shared by an entire nation. You can find a copy of the poem as well as additional materials for helping you with literary study and composition at our web site . 
September 19, 2019
Poetry Focus #14: Persona and Browning's "Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister"
In podcast #14 we revisit the idea of persona through Robert Browning's dramatic monologue "Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister." No one creates a clear distinction between poet and persona as Browning does. Follow along as we hear the interior monologue of a Spanish monk whose hatred for a fellow monk is an obsession. Pay particular attention to the poet's use of the aside to give a realistic depiction of a truly passive aggressive personality. You can find a copy of the poem as well as a ton of other resources at Thanks for listening.
July 24, 2019
Poetry Focus #13: Title and Wallace Steven's "The Emperor of Ice-Cream"
The title of a poem is often the first place to start when looking for a clue as to how approach a poem. In today's episode, Wallace Stevens offers us a curious juxtaposition with his title "The Emperor or Ice-cream." Just piecing together the connotative possibilities of these two key words placed against one another, leads us to understand that there is a bit of deception going on. The poem does not disappoint, and while it incorporates many poetic elements which could be examined, simply starting with the title and spring-boarding into how it helps to suggest a variety of possibilities is as good a place as any to begin. For a copy of the poem as well as other resources related to the study of literature and writing, please visit our website at
July 19, 2019
Poetry Focus #12: Paradox in Herbert's "The Pulley"
Today's episode examines the strategy of paradox in metaphysical poet George Herbert's "The Pulley." Paradox can be understood as the poet's use of contradiction within a poem to the reader to question a "common-sense" understanding and move toward a hidden or deeper truth. We resolve the paradox within a poem when we are able to reconcile the apparent contradiction and the truth lying underneath. In this poem, start by looking at the title and imagine it's use by God in weighting his decision on what gifts to give man. You can find a copy of this poem as well as a wealth of other resources related to poetry, writing, and the study of good literature at our website . 
July 01, 2019
Poetry Focus #11: Shift and Browning's Porphyria's Lover"
Today's poem takes a look at the effective use of shift by the poet to surprise and completely keep the reader off balance. There's no better place to see this than Robert Browning and his dramatic monologues. The one here, "Porphyria's Lover" actually contains several shifts within it that can upset the expectations of the reader. See if you can find them.  A copy of the poem itself as well as other helpful information can be found at our website at .
June 24, 2019
Poetry Focus #10: Metaphor and Shakespeare's "Sonnet 30"
Today's podcast takes a closer look at the extended metaphor. In this case it comes courtesy of William Shakespeare's Sonnet 30. In this sonnet, the Bard deals with the grief and sometimes depression associated with regret, particularly regret over missed chances and opportunities. By employing an extended comparison to a business or legal transaction Shakespeare is able to double reinforce the emotions associated with missed opportunities.
June 17, 2019
Poetry Focus #9: Enjambment and Oliver's "The Black Snake"
In this episode we continue our look at enjambment but also look at its use in a more sophisticated way as poet Mary Oliver uses the technique to marry her form with her message. You can find a copy of the poem at our website as well as additional resources related to the study of poetry and literature.
June 17, 2019
Poetry Focus #8: Enjambment and Williams's "Foot-note"
In today's episode we take a look at the concept of enjambment or the intentional use by the poet of punctuation and lack of it to continue on the rhythm of a poem. William Carlos William's "Foot-note" is an excellent, short example of a poet making definite use of enjambment to create an effective message within his poem. You an find the text of the poem as well as some helpful notes about poetic techniques and lots of helpful literary and composition materials at our web site .
June 17, 2019
Poetry Focus #7: Williams's "This is just to say"
We continue to look at tone in today's focus poem, William Carlos Williams's "This is just to say". As you listen to the poem, pay particular attention to how the poet is using the voice and [passive aggressiveness of the speaker to offer his view or feelings about this all too familiar situation couples find themselves in. For a copy of the poem as well as other resources including notes on the technique of poem, please visit our website at .
June 15, 2019
Poetry Focus #6: Sound with Cunningham's "Epigram 16"
In our continuing look at sound and how poets use it to create meaning, we'll take a look at J.V. Cunningham's "Epigram 16". In this short poem, pay attention to how Cunningham creates a web of sound, not just with the words at the ends of his lines but internally and among the lines. Sounds are the connective tissue in this work. For a copy of the poem as well as an explanation of sound use and other items please visit our website . 
June 15, 2019
Poetry Focus #5: Sound and Frost's "Stopping by Woods on Snowy Evening"
In today's podcast we focus on the poet's use of sound as a poetic technique. There are numerous specific devices and tools a writer can employ for "special effects", but it's not so necessary to get that technical when you first start working with a poem. Being aware of how certain sounds can create a rhythm or flow to a line or sequence of words and how sound can just as well be used to interrupt or even stop that flow is something to easily pick up. In today's poem selection, listen carefully to how Robert Frost uses sound within his classic "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening." For a copy of the poem, some notes and guidance about the poet's use of sound,  as well as other insights to working with poems and other pieces of literature please visit our website at .
June 15, 2019
Poetry Focus #4: Hughes's "The Negro Speaks of Rivers"
We focus on metaphor today and use this classic work by Langston Hughes to illustrate how effective an extended metaphor can be. You can check out additional resources to this and other poems on our website: 
May 28, 2019
Poetry Focus #3: Auden's "The Unknown Citizen"
In today's episode of Poetry Focus, we look at tone in a poem entitled "The Unknown Citizen" by W.H. Auden. Think of tone as the emotional undercurrent or effect a reading of the poem has on the reader.  You can check out additional resources to this and other poems on our website:  
May 28, 2019
Poetry Focus #2: Goethe's "Erl-King"
In today's Poetry Focus we'll take a look at the speaker or persona in a poem. That identification can open up new possibilities of analysis when written with a poem.  You can check out additional resources to this and other poems on our website:  
May 28, 2019
Poetry Focus #1 Sappho's "Pain"
Today, we focus on diction and how precision in word choice can make all the difference particularly in short poems. We'll look at the ancient Greek Poet Sappho and her fragmentary work "Pain".  You can check out additional resources to this and other poems on our website:  
May 22, 2019