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January 3, 2019

#Poetry: Katie Ford

by N@ncy

  • Author:  Katie Ford
  • Title: Blood Lyrics (collection of 40 poems)
  • Published: 2014
  • Poem: The Spell
  • Trivia: Blood Lyrics was a finalist for
  • …the LA Times Book Prize and the Rilke Prize.



  1. It will take me several weeks to read and understand
  2. 40 poems…so I’m posting one at a time.
  3. My goal is to read the poems and do some
  4. investigation about the ‘nuts and bolts’ of poetry.
  5. This poem taught me about enjambment.


Who is Katie Ford?

  1. Katie Ford has completed graduate work
  2. …in theology and poetry at Harvard University
  3. She received her M.F.A. from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.
  4. Her poems have appeared in The New Yorker, Poetry, The Paris Review,
  5. …The American Poetry Review.
  6. She teaches at the University of California, Riverside.


Title:  The Spell

  1. A spell is a wish or desire. In this poem the
  2. …speaker (?) pleas to a nameless receiver for a change of action.
  3. Form and Structure: 
  4. Free verse with no specific rhyme or meter,  15 line in 1 stanza.
  5. Ford uses enjambment (line 1,5, 6, 7) to emphasize
  6. …a thought on the next line and
  7. …keeping a pleasing form that will appeal to the reader.
  8. Repetition (anaphora):
  9. Ford uses the word ‘take’ 5 times:
  10. ….to take my..lights, opal, call of bells, thin lead, all that is nimble, take their cotton.
  11. Symbol:  In line 13 “threshing floor” could  represent a
  12. place of (Biblical) judgement or
  13. a place where good is separated from the evil (grain/chaff).
  14. This is just my interpretation.



  1. This  poem is a ‘list-with-a-twist’
  2. The speaker lists all the things we can take
  3. but…in the last line…
  4. …Ford tells us what one must NOT take!
  5. The unexpected or surprised shift in meaning
  6. causes the reader to reinterpret or
  7. rethink the opening part of the poem.
  8. Puzzle: Ford uses possessive pronouns:
  9. ‘My” is obvious referring to the speaker but
  10. Ford suddenly refers to “take their cotton, reap their fields,” (line 10)
  11. “…my industry, it is yours.” (line 11).
  12. I haven’t a clue as to who “they or you’ are!
  13. First line:  ” Take my lights, take my most and only (enjambment)
  14.                     opal”
  15. Last line:   “but do not take (…no spoiler).


Last thoughts:

  1. I enjoyed the poem and learning some basics about poetry.
  2. I learned the definition and purpose of enjambment.
  3. The most difficult part is ‘finding’ the enjambment!
  4. TIp: always ask yourself at the end of the line
  5. …have I understood the whole thought in this line?
  6. If not…the thought is probbly in the next line using ‘enjambment.
  7. The poet breaks the line to emphasize an idea or theme.
  8. Strategy: In order to get a feel for the poem I’m reading
  9. …I’m writing it in long-hand in a notebook.
  10. Reading a poem digitally just does not work for me.
  11. This way I can make notes about punctuation, enjambment
  12. meter, rhyme and high-light words or images I want to investigate.


Read more from poetry

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