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How to Eat a Poem - by Eve Merriem

EVE MERRIAM
THE POET
BACKGROUND
• Born Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – 1916
• Daughter of Russian immigrants
• Married to Leonard C. Lewin, another American writer then
to an screenwriter, Waldo Salt
• Studied at Columbia University
• She did adult poetry, children picture books and poetry
• Died on April 11, 1992
• Winner of the NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for
Children
Stanza 1
Don't be polite.
Bite in.
Pick it up with your fingers and lick the juice that
may run down your chin.
It is ready and ripe now, whenever you are.

• The freedom in writing your own poem or understanding one should be yours.
• One should not be shy when writing or appreciating their poem, express it the way it
is. Get in the mood and feel your own feeling.
• If things are done in the most free and expressful way, the poem should be ready to
be felt by you and others too.
Stanza 2
You do not need a knife or fork or spoon
or plate or napkin or tablecloth.
• In writing or understanding a poem, one does not
have to have any other special help.
• Ex: Writing or reading a report, you need tons of
reference books to help.
• In poem, you just need whatever is in your mind and
pour it out on a piece of paper or visualise whatever
crossed your mind.
Stanza 3
For there is no core
or stem
or rind
or pit
or seed
or skin
to throw away.
• You will feel “What is about this? What did I just write? Do they even care? Am
I writing it right?”
• However, in poem, there is no right or wrong in writing or understanding it.
• There is no bad things about your poem or how you express it, IT IS YOURS.
• Whatever you poured out from your mind has a special meaning or different
kind of way in expressing the meaning.
THEME

• The sheer joy of life


• Appreciation of a poem
MAIN IDEA
• Poem is easy to “digest” – as it describes as a type
of food that is easy to eat
• To not hold back in being ourselves
• No part of a poem is a waste, we can take in
everything and learn from it in order to grow as a
person
POEM ARRANGEMENT
• How To Eat A Poem is a 14 line free verse poem made up of 3 stanzas.

• It is a mix of short and long lines. The third stanza is more of a list, a repeated column
that makes reference to various fruits.

no core
or stem
or rind
or pit
or seed
or skin
Literary Devices
1. Alliteration
• Repetition of ‘r’ – ready and ripe

2. Imagery
• Visual and tactile – knife, fork, spoon, plate, napkin,
tablecloth, skin, seed
• Gustatory – juice
• Kinaesthetic – run down, pick it up
Literary Devices
3. Repetition
• Repetition of ‘or’

4. Personafication
• … eat a poem.
• … bite in.
• … lick the juice.

5. Metaphor
• Comparing a poem to a fruit
DICTION
• ABSTRACT DICTION
– When a writer uses words to express something
intangible, like an idea or emotion.

In her own interpretation, the poet uses a metaphor to


give the ideas of what poetry should be.
The intangible idea is that poetry is not something
polite, refined and wholly civilised, but messy, human, and
open to everyone.
DICTION
• POETIC DICTION
– Poetic diction is driven by lyrical words that relate to a
specific theme reflected in a poem, and create a
harmonious sound. It usually involves a beat or rhyme.

E.g.:
Bite in.
Pick it up with your fingers and lick the juice that
may run down your chin.
DICTION
• INFORMAL DICTION
– More conversational and often used in narrative literature.

The poet uses informal words as to have a conversation with


the reader. She straight-forwardly encourages the reader to
‘eat’ poetry in a less civilised manner; with bare hands
without forks, spoons, knifes, or tablecloth.
E.g.:
Bite in
You do not need a knife or fork or spoon
or plate or napkin or tablecloth.
– The repetition of certain words to emphasize the ideas implied.
E.g.:
For there is no core
Or stem
Or rind
Or pit
Or seed
Or skin
To throw away.

The word ‘or’ is being repeated here to emphasize the idea that as
compared to fruits, poetry has no waste products where every single bit
of a poem is juicy and edible. It is the thought that that poetry is for
everyone.
TONE
The poet’s attitude toward the poem’s speaker, reader,
and subject matter, as interpreted by the reader.

PERSUASIVE
• The tone is persuasive as the poet convinces the readers that a
poem is like a food that can be eaten, but the readers do not have
to be ethical.
(key phrase: ‘Don’t be polite’)

• The poet also convinces that the whole poem is ‘edible’ as there
is nothing to be thrown away
(Third stanza)
RHYME
Types of rhymes are applied in the poem:

• Alliteration
‘It is ready and ripe now, whenever you are’

• Assonance
‘or stem
or rind
or pit
or seed
or pit
to throw away’
RHYTHM AND METER

Rhythm: The flow of sound


Meter: The patterns in the sounds
METRICAL UNITS

Annabel Lee, Edgar Allan Poe.

Meter is decided whether the syllables of the words in the poem


are stressed (accented) or unstressed (unaccented).
Anapest: Two unstressed syllables followed by a stressed syllable (da-da-DA).
Example: un-der-STAND.
Dactyl: One stressed syllable followed by two unstressed syllables (DA-da-da).
Example: PROM-i-nent.
Iamb: One unstressed syllable followed by one stressed syllable (da-DA).
Example: be-LONG
Trochee: One stressed syllable followed by one unstressed syllable (DA-da).
Example: O-ver

There are also terminologies to refer to the number of feet in a LINE of poetry.

1 foot: monometer
2 feet: dimeter
3 feet: trimeter
4 feet: tetrameter
5 feet: pentameter
Bite in.
Pick it up with your fingers and lick the juice that
may run down your chin.
It is ready and ripe now, whenever you are.

Now we can conclude that this poem is free verse due to the fact
that it is free from any constraints of regular meter or rhythm and
does not rhyme with fixed forms.
shall I | comPARE | thee TO | a SUM | mer’s DAY? ||
Thou ART | more LOVE | ly AND | more TEM | perATE:
Sonnet 18, William Shakespeare

Each line consists of five metrical feet, so this poem is written in pentameter. Each
line also includes five iambs, one stressed syllable followed by one unstressed
syllable. These lines are therefore written in iambic pentameter.
BACK TO RHYTHM

Now just because "How To Eat a Poem" by Eve Merriam


doesn't contain any regular meter or rhyme doesn't mean
that it has no rhythm.

There's no discernable pattern in the meter, which is why the


poem is called free verse. Yet the poem still has a flow, a
rhythm.
Don't be polite.
Bite in.
Pick it up with your fingers and lick the juice that
may run down your chin.
It is ready and ripe now, whenever you are.

You do not need a knife or fork or spoon


or plate or napkin or tablecloth.

For there is no core


or stem Even though there aren't repeated patterns, the accented,
or rind unaccented syllables and pauses inform the rhythm.
or pit
or seed
or skin
to throw away.