Read a poem and think about the effect it has on you. Read it through again at least two or three times before starting to write about it. If you are writing about a poem you have already studied before, re-reading it will remind you of its effect.
If there are parts of the poem you don’t understand or confuse you, don’t worry. At this stage, you are just trying to work out your general response to the poem.
Read this first stanza of Jackie Kay’s poem Dusting the Phone. Think about what your response to it is and what stands out to you. Try reading it twice and closing your eyes and looking away, what do you remember from it?
We can see that the speaker is 'in love' and she imagines 'the worst that could happen'. This is striking because we imagine being in love as being something that makes people happy. However the first stanza shows that this isn’t always the case and that love can make someone anxious and worried.
This response demonstrates the reader’s engagement with the poem and shows an understanding of the way the poem offers a surprising view of love. It includes short references from the poem that is effectively woven into the response.