Literary Birthday - 24 August - Stephen Fry

Happy Birthday, Stephen Fry, born 24 August 1957

Stephen Fry: On Reading & Writing

Read slowly

Savour every word and every line. Reading verse can be like eating chocolate - so much more pleasurable when you allow it slowly to melt inside of you, so much less rewarding when you snap off big chunks and bolt them whole, all but untasted.  In our age, one of the glories of poetry is that it remains an art that demonstrates the virtues and pleasures of taking your time. You can never read a poem too slowly, but you can certainly read one too fast. 

Read out loud

Among the pleasures of poetry is the sheer physical, sensual, textural, tactile pleasure of feeling the words on your lips, tongue, teeth and vocal chords.

Don’t look for meaning

Never worry about ‘meaning’ when you are reading poems. A relationship with the whole art of poetry itself takes time. Allow meaning to emerge at its own pace. 

Be ready to write

Buy a notebook, exercise book or jotter pad and lots of pencils. Take it with you everywhere. When you are stuck in an airport, travelling by train, just doodle with words. Write, don’t type. As you learn new techniques and methods for producing lines of verse, practise them all the time.

Fry is a British actor, author, playwright, poet, television presenter, poet and film director.

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