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"One of the virtues of good poetry is the fact that it irritates the mediocre." Theodore Roethke was one of the most famous and outspoken poets and poetry teachers this country has ever known. In this volume of selected prose, Roethke articulates his commitments to imaginative possibilities, offers tender advice to young writers, and zings darts at stuffed shirts, lightweig "One of the virtues of good poetry is the fact that it irritates the mediocre." Theodore Roethke was one of the most famous and outspoken poets and poetry teachers this country has ever known. In this volume of selected prose, Roethke articulates his commitments to imaginative possibilities, offers tender advice to young writers, and zings darts at stuffed shirts, lightweights and fools. "Art is our defense against hysteria and death." With the assistance of Roethke's widow, this volume has been edited to include the finest selections from out of print collections of prose and journal entries. Focused on the making and teaching of poetry,On Poetry and Craft will be prized in the classroom-and outrageous Roethke quotes will once again pepper our conversations. "You must believe a poem is a holy thing, a good poem, that is." Theodore Roethke was of an illustrious generation of poets which included Sexton, Plath, Lowell, Berryman, and like them he received nearly every major award in poetry, including the Pulitzer Prize and twice the National Book Award. In spite of his fame, he remained a legendary teacher, known for the care and attention he gave to his students, poets such as James Wright, Carolyn Kizer, Tess Gallagher, and Richard Hugo. Roethke died on August 1, 1963, while swimming in a friend's pool. "But before I'm reduced to an absolute pulp by my own ambivalence, I must say goodbye. The old lion perisheth. Nymphs, I wish you the swoops of many fish. May your search for the abiding be forever furious." On Poetry and Craft I am overwhelmed by the beautiful disorder of poetry, the eternal virginity of words. The poem, even a short time after being written, seems no miracle; unwritten, it seems something beyond the capacity of the gods. We can't escape what we are, and I'm afraid many of my notions about verse (I haven't too many) have been conditioned by the fact that for nearly 25 years I've been trying to teach the young something about the nature of verse by writing it--and that with very little formal knowledge of the subject or previous instruction. So it's going to be lik


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"One of the virtues of good poetry is the fact that it irritates the mediocre." Theodore Roethke was one of the most famous and outspoken poets and poetry teachers this country has ever known. In this volume of selected prose, Roethke articulates his commitments to imaginative possibilities, offers tender advice to young writers, and zings darts at stuffed shirts, lightweig "One of the virtues of good poetry is the fact that it irritates the mediocre." Theodore Roethke was one of the most famous and outspoken poets and poetry teachers this country has ever known. In this volume of selected prose, Roethke articulates his commitments to imaginative possibilities, offers tender advice to young writers, and zings darts at stuffed shirts, lightweights and fools. "Art is our defense against hysteria and death." With the assistance of Roethke's widow, this volume has been edited to include the finest selections from out of print collections of prose and journal entries. Focused on the making and teaching of poetry,On Poetry and Craft will be prized in the classroom-and outrageous Roethke quotes will once again pepper our conversations. "You must believe a poem is a holy thing, a good poem, that is." Theodore Roethke was of an illustrious generation of poets which included Sexton, Plath, Lowell, Berryman, and like them he received nearly every major award in poetry, including the Pulitzer Prize and twice the National Book Award. In spite of his fame, he remained a legendary teacher, known for the care and attention he gave to his students, poets such as James Wright, Carolyn Kizer, Tess Gallagher, and Richard Hugo. Roethke died on August 1, 1963, while swimming in a friend's pool. "But before I'm reduced to an absolute pulp by my own ambivalence, I must say goodbye. The old lion perisheth. Nymphs, I wish you the swoops of many fish. May your search for the abiding be forever furious." On Poetry and Craft I am overwhelmed by the beautiful disorder of poetry, the eternal virginity of words. The poem, even a short time after being written, seems no miracle; unwritten, it seems something beyond the capacity of the gods. We can't escape what we are, and I'm afraid many of my notions about verse (I haven't too many) have been conditioned by the fact that for nearly 25 years I've been trying to teach the young something about the nature of verse by writing it--and that with very little formal knowledge of the subject or previous instruction. So it's going to be lik

30 review for On Poetry and Craft: Selected Prose

  1. 4 out of 5

    Garfield Whyte

    Very good instructions....worth the buy and worth the read.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Sylvester

    Partly excellent and partly pure vitriol. His poetry, and his discussion of it seems to be half ego and half complete devotion to the excellence of word-craft. A cranky man?

  3. 4 out of 5

    Allyson

    "The writer who maintains that he works without regard for the opinion of others is either a jackass or a pathological liar" (48). HA! I love this book. I will return to it repeatedly. Esp. for the teaching aphorisms.

  4. 4 out of 5

    KarLuis

    "Eternal apprenticeship is the life of the true poet."—from Selected notebook entries (1949-53), first published in Shenandoah, then in Straw for the Fire. This collection, bursting wildly with all sorts of prose—from pithy aphorisms to rambling remarks, is a remarkable volume of poetic tutelage by one of the greatest craftsmen of the form. In the space of two pages itself, for example (80-81), the author of the second-most famous villanelle in the English language (the first being Dylan Thomas' "Eternal apprenticeship is the life of the true poet."—from Selected notebook entries (1949-53), first published in Shenandoah, then in Straw for the Fire. This collection, bursting wildly with all sorts of prose—from pithy aphorisms to rambling remarks, is a remarkable volume of poetic tutelage by one of the greatest craftsmen of the form. In the space of two pages itself, for example (80-81), the author of the second-most famous villanelle in the English language (the first being Dylan Thomas's Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night) renders us exacting advice on three crucial aspects of poetry: rhythm ("rhythm depends on expecting"); diction ("often a very good figure from another level or range will jar"); and moments ("beware the poetry of moments"): the soundest advice a beginning, unformed writer (56: "the beginning writer is often neither bad nor good, but simply unformed") can ever hope to receive. But Roethke's advice goes beyond mere generalities. At times, the master (Papa, as he would disparagingly regard himself as such) also homes in onto specific technicalities, down to the very level of the line itself, as it happens when he comments on these lines: "It was my life, or so I said / And I did well, forsaking it / To go as quickly as the dead," and Roethke explains that "the technical trick is in the manipulation of the pause, the caesura, on the fourth and sixth syllables" (58). So, through him, and through this invaluable collection, we can learn by imitating—itself the subject of an entire essay in the book—by imitating his verse, his analysis, his rhythms, and his poetic sensibility. And perhaps, in the end, all we can do after a lifetime of apprenticeship is to "Be still" and "Wait."

  5. 4 out of 5

    Greg Adams

    Pretty academic take on poetry; however, there are some choice lessons within Roethke's lectures.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ms. Rocket Pie

    Roethke's profound regional influence piqued my interest in him and his work. Originally from the Midwest he spent many years teaching at the University of Washington. During his tenure there he taught many who went on to become noted poets, for example: Carolyn Kizer, Tess Gallaher, and David Wagoner. On Poetry & Craft flung me into fluid and poignant compilation of essay's, reviews, and journal excerpts. This was a departure for me from classic fiction; the direct and cadenced nature of his vo Roethke's profound regional influence piqued my interest in him and his work. Originally from the Midwest he spent many years teaching at the University of Washington. During his tenure there he taught many who went on to become noted poets, for example: Carolyn Kizer, Tess Gallaher, and David Wagoner. On Poetry & Craft flung me into fluid and poignant compilation of essay's, reviews, and journal excerpts. This was a departure for me from classic fiction; the direct and cadenced nature of his voice turned intellectually intimidating work and idea's into accessible and personable beats. Obviously a master of language his insights and critiques are far from sterile or clinical; by identifying the subtleties, nuances, and intricacies of language he offers a rich encounter with poetry. This book distinguishes him as one who valued youth, individual expression, and the delicately potent use of language. "The decasyllable line is fine fine for someone who wants to meditate -or maunder. Me, I need something to jump in: hence the spins and shifts, the songs, the rants and howls. The shorter line can still serve us: it did when English was young, and when we were children."

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jerome K

    This is cool. It's a loose collection of Roethke's thoughts of poetry writing and it's truly insightful in a kind of meditative way. Roethke can be straightforward and he can be rather abstract, but he's always profound. I write poetry myself and this had been a lot of help.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jeff

    I think i give up. Teddy's writing about writing is too indirect for me. I could follow the epilogue and intro but not much else. I couldn't even comprehend the aphorisms! *sigh* maybe someday when i'm more poetically educated.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Mills College Library

    808.1 R719 2001

  10. 5 out of 5

    Mariana

    A book for writers and poets; lots of essays and pithy statements.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn Hembree

    Look, I love all of his notes on teaching/craft and the lectures. Really inspiring and useful. But the creepy pseudonym writing at the end made me throw up in my mouth a bit.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Robin Joy

  13. 5 out of 5

    Katherine Nerys

  14. 4 out of 5

    Maria Catherino

    The next best thing to taking a course with Roetke.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Riel

  16. 4 out of 5

    Sean

  17. 4 out of 5

    Sheikh Tajamul

  18. 5 out of 5

    Robert Walrod

  19. 5 out of 5

    Matthew

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jan Mcginn

  21. 5 out of 5

    Tara

  22. 5 out of 5

    Laure-anne

  23. 4 out of 5

    Bsday

  24. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

  25. 4 out of 5

    Charles

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kitty

  27. 5 out of 5

    J.F. Riordan

  28. 4 out of 5

    Dave

  29. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Nauenburg

  30. 4 out of 5

    Marc

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