Poetry: A New Reading Strategy

Published Categorised as Personal, Brain Health, Brain Power

The English are big readers. When I mentioned my problems with reading while I was over there, instant brainstorming began.


It’s interesting seeing how different people react differently to my predicament. All are sympathetic, but most kind of shrug helplessly, speak platitudes, or say information-free positive things. Over there though, it was like I was a juicy problem that suddenly landed on their plate that they could happily chew over for hours. It made for a great discussion, and a brilliant idea popped out during it.

I decided: I would try the idea with my neurodoc when I got home, depending on what he thought.

I haven’t gotten back into my reading rehab yet – I need to recover from my vacation first – but my neurodoc was very enthusiastic about the idea. We tried it out.

The idea is: someone would read out loud to me poetry once a week as a way to accelerate my reading rehab. That someone would have to be invested in and enthusiastic about reading out loud to me as a project intrinsically of value to themselves because they would have to initiate the reading and choose the poems.

My neurodoc agreed that it could accelerate my reading progress. Like my friends across the pond, he thought poetry was better than newspaper articles or books because every word counts, it’s emotive, and it’s usually shorter. As he said, it would:

  1. Increase my ability to comprehend, force me to look at grammar in a different way, require me to integrate every word; and

  2. Stimulate my emotions – the right side of the brain – which we know are a little damaged in the production department due to the brain injury.

He will choose the poems based on which emotions he thinks need support.

Ramryge angels at Gloucester Cathedral, England

Brain injury grief is

extraordinary grief

research proves

needs healing.

Poetry really does require me to pay attention to every word in order to grasp the meaning.

For our test run, my neurodoc chose Ozymandias by Shelley. He printed out two copies and read it out loud. One part of the idea was that I would read along as the poem is read out loud to me. But he decided not to give me the second printed copy. I was not up for reading words, only to listening.

He read slowly; he enunciated every word. It took all of my concentration to absorb and process every word and follow the meaning. And I faintly felt feelings in response. I can see the value of this idea; my neurodoc was tickled pink by it. We’re going to incorporate it into my treatment weekly.

We didn’t have much time to discuss Ozymandias during our test run, but I think this method will have more value if I have time to speak about the meaning and try and process the emotions the chosen poem evokes. Ideally, I would find someone other than my neurodoc to read poetry out loud to me once weekly. That way, I would have time to discuss it like one would discuss poetry and get fully into the emotions of it, as much as I’m capable of anyway. Having said that, between my low stamina and already intense rehab schedule, 15 minutes would probably be long enough for now: 5 minutes to read the poem; 10 to discuss it.

My friends in England thought it would be a piece of cake to find such a person. Even with the ability of doing it through video chat . . . I don’t know. They have reading-out-loud programs over there. We only have them for children in libraries as far as I know. The English have lots more get-up-and-get-on-with-it energy, no bitching about how busy they are as an excuse not to help. Over there, no one expected me to lead. Here, people look to me to do the heavy lifting; even when we begin with them initiating, it isn’t long before most expect me to initiate. And when I don’t, nothing happens. So unless some poetry-loving energetic person drops into my lap, figuratively speaking of course, it’ll just be my neurodoc reading poetry to me for now. If nothing else, it’ll make for a different session. 

My Duck logo walking on my books in pink and blue shading.



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