An epigraph is a short quotation placed at the start of a poem to help set the tone and focus your efforts. Almost anything can work if you find it inspiring: a quote from another poet, a few sentences from a news article, a memorable phrase spoken by a friend, a saying from Poor Richard's Almanack.
As a reader, you may find it hard to speak frankly in the poet's presence about words, images, and ideas charged with personal expression. Yet in doing so, you help the writer see how the poem affects another person, and how it might evolve in a future draft.
As you read, write, and discuss poetry, you'll begin to think about language and communication in new ways. In a poem, for instance, a decision on word choice may depend as much on sound as on meaning. A sharp visual image may resonate with political or spiritual implications. And memorable phrases can be woven into haunting incantations.
The ideas and suggestions in this section introduce some key concepts for readers and writers of poetry.