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How to Determine an Audience in a Poem


Poems are often written elusively, and it is not always easy to tell why and for whom they are written at first glance. An audience is a literary term used to describe for whom a writer is constructing a poem. The audience is meant to find significance in the poem's meaning, and it is the poet's duty to write in a way that will speak to his intended audience. Even without speaking to the poet, it is possible to find out who the intended audience of a poem is.

Read the poem silently to yourself. Think about the rhythm and rhyme of the poem. Then, read the poem aloud. Listen for energy and rhythm when the poem is read aloud. If it sounds more powerful when read aloud, the intended audience may be a crowd of listeners. But if it provokes more thought when read silently, then the intended audience may be readers.

Examine the content of the poem. If the material is personal or revealing, the intended audience may be a small group of specific people, such as a therapy group or family members, or maybe there is no intended audience at all. Consider whether the content is politically, religiously or socially charged. If it is, the intended audience may be those involved in such arenas; the poem may also be targeted for the general public to make them aware of issues.

Consider the vocabulary used in the poem. If a lot of specific, uncommon jargon is used, the poem's intended audience may be confined to a specific group of listeners or readers. Look for key words, such as when a poet directly addresses the audience, to find out who the audience is.

Consider where the poetry is published or in what setting it is read. Often, the publishing style or setting reveals who the intended audience is. For example, if a poem is found in a journal about astronomy, the intended audience for the poem may be professional astronomers, students or those who are enthusiastic about the field of astronomy.

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