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In The Art of Poetry, Shira Wolosky provides a dazzling introduction to an art whose emphasis on verbal music, wordplay, and dodging the merely literal makes it at once the most beguiling and most challenging of literary forms. A uniquely comprehensive, step-by-step introduction to poetic form, The Art of Poetry moves progressively from smaller units such as the word, line, In The Art of Poetry, Shira Wolosky provides a dazzling introduction to an art whose emphasis on verbal music, wordplay, and dodging the merely literal makes it at once the most beguiling and most challenging of literary forms. A uniquely comprehensive, step-by-step introduction to poetic form, The Art of Poetry moves progressively from smaller units such as the word, line, and image, to larger features such as verse forms and voice. In fourteen engaging, beautifully written chapters, Wolosky explores in depth how poetry does what it does while offering brilliant readings of some of the finest lyric poetry in the English and American traditions. Both readers new to poetry and poetry veterans will be moved and enlightened as Wolosky interprets work by William Shakespeare, John Donne, William Blake, William Wordsworth, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Sylvia Plath, and others. The book includes a superb two-chapter discussion of the sonnet's form and history, and represents the first poetry guide to introduce gender as a basic element of analysis. In contrast to many existing guides, which focus on selected formal aspects like metrics or present definitions and examples in a handbook format, The Art of Poetry covers the full landscape of poetry's subtle art while showing readers how to comprehend a poetic text in all its dimensions. Other special features include Wolosky's consideration of historical background for the developments she discusses, and the way her book is designed to acquaint or reacquaint readers with the core of the lyric tradition in English. Lively, accessible, and original, The Art of Poetry will be a rich source of inspiration for students, general readers, and those who teach poetry.


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In The Art of Poetry, Shira Wolosky provides a dazzling introduction to an art whose emphasis on verbal music, wordplay, and dodging the merely literal makes it at once the most beguiling and most challenging of literary forms. A uniquely comprehensive, step-by-step introduction to poetic form, The Art of Poetry moves progressively from smaller units such as the word, line, In The Art of Poetry, Shira Wolosky provides a dazzling introduction to an art whose emphasis on verbal music, wordplay, and dodging the merely literal makes it at once the most beguiling and most challenging of literary forms. A uniquely comprehensive, step-by-step introduction to poetic form, The Art of Poetry moves progressively from smaller units such as the word, line, and image, to larger features such as verse forms and voice. In fourteen engaging, beautifully written chapters, Wolosky explores in depth how poetry does what it does while offering brilliant readings of some of the finest lyric poetry in the English and American traditions. Both readers new to poetry and poetry veterans will be moved and enlightened as Wolosky interprets work by William Shakespeare, John Donne, William Blake, William Wordsworth, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Sylvia Plath, and others. The book includes a superb two-chapter discussion of the sonnet's form and history, and represents the first poetry guide to introduce gender as a basic element of analysis. In contrast to many existing guides, which focus on selected formal aspects like metrics or present definitions and examples in a handbook format, The Art of Poetry covers the full landscape of poetry's subtle art while showing readers how to comprehend a poetic text in all its dimensions. Other special features include Wolosky's consideration of historical background for the developments she discusses, and the way her book is designed to acquaint or reacquaint readers with the core of the lyric tradition in English. Lively, accessible, and original, The Art of Poetry will be a rich source of inspiration for students, general readers, and those who teach poetry.

30 review for The Art of Poetry: How to Read a Poem

  1. 4 out of 5

    Maru Kun

    Wallace Stevens, as well as being a great modernist poet, was Head of Legal at the Hartford Insurance Company. He wrote brilliant, refined poetry while working at a boring job in an industry that actively tries to be dull. We can reasonably assume that he spent many hours in the office bunking off and editing his poems. The twenty first century is no longer so kind to the office poet. E-mails, blackberries, on-line training, town-halls, conference calls and the rest of that corporate baggage leav Wallace Stevens, as well as being a great modernist poet, was Head of Legal at the Hartford Insurance Company. He wrote brilliant, refined poetry while working at a boring job in an industry that actively tries to be dull. We can reasonably assume that he spent many hours in the office bunking off and editing his poems. The twenty first century is no longer so kind to the office poet. E-mails, blackberries, on-line training, town-halls, conference calls and the rest of that corporate baggage leave us little opportunity to develop our ars poetica. These days anyone who seriously wants to develop as a poet has no choice but to combine poetry and work. With W H Auden's Musee des Beaux Arts and John Masefield's Cargoes as my inspiration here are my first attempts at defining a new poetic aesthetic of the office cubicle: From now on all personnel matters will be dealt with in free verse About suffering they were never wrong, The HR department: how well they understood Its human position: how it takes place While someone else is photocopying or sending an e-mail or just reading a dull memo; How, when the downsized are litigiously, passionately waiting For their pink slips, there must always be Outside contractors who did not specially want it to happen, surfing On the internet outside the conference room. All interaction with vendor management will be rhymed with a heavy and distinct meter. Annie of procurement from distant Twickenham Walking down the corridor in double quick time With a cargo of staplers, Memo pads and sticky notes, Glue sticks, biro pens and heavy duty twine As an aspiring office poet I have read a number of books on how to read poetry and this is certainly one of the best. A key strength is how it breaks down the poetic experience to its most basic concepts, giving each a separate chapter – words and diction, simile and metaphor, syntax and so on – and then fits these concepts together going from the simplest most basic level but building up to a more complex but cohesive whole. There are a few points where the book gets a little academic and the eyes begin to glaze over, but the choice of poems is good and in the main the explanations very enlightening. In fact the book was so good I might actually go and read some poems instead of reading books about how to read poems. Recommended for people struck by the muse while switching the printer off and on again.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

    I read it to help myself to write poem. I've started to learn writing poem in English from 2010. Actually, My native language is Chinese(major in Literature). English is second one. (Writing is better than speaking) As a little monster and bi, mother monster inspired me to achieve something special:bilingual. Um...can I call myself as a writer or poet? After all, I haven't published any books.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Ed

    Not a book for the faint of heart, The poems are rendered, torn apart, Be warned! it may take many a session To understand each verse dissection.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Angelusblanc

    It was very clear and informative until about the last couple of chapters. Chapter 14 however, perhaps because of its topic as well as its relation to modernist and post structuralist issues is a bit confusing and provides rather a bad ending to an otherwise satisfactory and insightful book.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Taylor

    So here's the deal. I skipped maybe 3 chapters of this book either because we didn't cover them in class or because I was lazy. So technically I didn't read it cover to cover. BUT it took a big chunk of time because it's somewhat dense so I'm counting it toward my "read" books. So for the actual review part. Personally, I wouldn't have picked this up to read of my own volition. Not that I don't enjoy studying literature, but I don't tend to read things like this in my free time. For the class I' So here's the deal. I skipped maybe 3 chapters of this book either because we didn't cover them in class or because I was lazy. So technically I didn't read it cover to cover. BUT it took a big chunk of time because it's somewhat dense so I'm counting it toward my "read" books. So for the actual review part. Personally, I wouldn't have picked this up to read of my own volition. Not that I don't enjoy studying literature, but I don't tend to read things like this in my free time. For the class I'm taking this book was a giant help. We've studied mainly poetry and the book has given us a lot of avenues of thought for analysis. Overall, it was a pretty useful tool to learn how to analyze poetry in greater depth.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    Very useful in helping me to analyse poetry, I'll be sure to use it again in the future!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ellen

    Wolosky opens up a poem to multiples of meaning that are unimaginable in my first reading of the poem. She shows how each area of poesy helps interpret the poem, from individual words, syntax and the poetic line, images - simile and metaphor, metaphor and the sonnet, verse forms - the sonnet, poetic conventions, more verse forms, personification, poetic voice, gender and poetic voice, poetic rhythm - meter, poetic rhythm - sound and rhyme, rhetoric - more tropes, and something she calls incomple Wolosky opens up a poem to multiples of meaning that are unimaginable in my first reading of the poem. She shows how each area of poesy helps interpret the poem, from individual words, syntax and the poetic line, images - simile and metaphor, metaphor and the sonnet, verse forms - the sonnet, poetic conventions, more verse forms, personification, poetic voice, gender and poetic voice, poetic rhythm - meter, poetic rhythm - sound and rhyme, rhetoric - more tropes, and something she calls incomplete figures in the chapter Incomplete Figures and the Art of Reading. Many of the poems she elucidates are poems I have read for years. I had no idea so very, very much was in these verses. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants a much richer experience in ready poetry.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Esther

    This book is fascinating, readable and helpful to someone (like me) who is frequently mystified by poetry. The author explains things brilliantly so you don't feel: 'That's fine for her but I'm never going to be able to understand this by myself.' She introduces concepts, gives examples and uses poems to illustrate in context. However, her interpretations of the poems are not phrased as closed or definitive. They are framed as discussions - questioning and exploratory - so you feel you are being This book is fascinating, readable and helpful to someone (like me) who is frequently mystified by poetry. The author explains things brilliantly so you don't feel: 'That's fine for her but I'm never going to be able to understand this by myself.' She introduces concepts, gives examples and uses poems to illustrate in context. However, her interpretations of the poems are not phrased as closed or definitive. They are framed as discussions - questioning and exploratory - so you feel you are being taken on a thought-journey with her.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Tandava Brahmachari

    There are some good analyses of poems in here, and I think I learned something from it. I also think I would have learned more if I had more patience with the author's prose, which I found somewhat snooze-inducing.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Gwendolyn Neal

    Engaging and comprehensive introduction to poetry. Very informative, highly recommended.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Rose

    821 Wol

  12. 4 out of 5

    Brigitte

  13. 5 out of 5

    Marcie

  14. 4 out of 5

    Joe Yan

  15. 5 out of 5

    Patrick Meara

  16. 4 out of 5

    Erin Binder Kurland

  17. 4 out of 5

    Tidian

  18. 5 out of 5

    Shah Wharton

  19. 4 out of 5

    Sue

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sabrina Bay

  21. 4 out of 5

    Tiffani Thomas

  22. 5 out of 5

    Khalil

  23. 4 out of 5

    Micaela

  24. 4 out of 5

    Conrad Leibel

  25. 4 out of 5

    Amabel D'avignon

  26. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Sanderson

  27. 5 out of 5

    Renee Fisher

  28. 4 out of 5

    D3NOVO

  29. 4 out of 5

    malin

    thank u for (hopefully) helping me pass my exams

  30. 4 out of 5

    Lex

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