- Paperback: 288 pages
- Publisher: Chatto & Windus; First Edition edition (6 Jun. 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0701173181
- ISBN-13: 978-0701173180
- Product Dimensions: 15.4 x 2 x 23.5 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,246,497 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
52 Ways Of Looking At A Poem: or How Reading Modern Poetry Can Change Your Life Paperback – 6 Jun 2002
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"She chooses her poems with impeccable taste, an anthologist of the very best contemporary poetry" -- Times
I havent seen any description of where and who we are thats as clear, balanced and inspiring. -- Jo Shapcott
Many of us... have learned to read unfamiliar poetry with greater understanding as a result of this weekly analysis.' -- An Independent on Sunday reader
Based on Ruth Padel's popular 'Sunday Poem' column in the Independent on Sunday which aimed to make contemporary poetry accessible and less intimidating by, each week, showing how to go about reading a poem.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Ruth Padel's collection, taken from a weekly newspaper column in the Independent on Sunday is therefore a real thrill, whether you're a student trying to find out how to approach modern poetry or an interested but bewildered reader. She puts modern poetry into a literary and historical context, with a light, witty touch, and explores 52 poems line by line, with a bit about each poet as introduction. Her own metaphors in doing so are sometimes as good as anything in the poem - I loved her description of Peter Redgrove's "playful love poem" to The Visible Baby "offering its own bright images and spell-like repetitions like a coloured mobile."
Though not, I imagine, includsive of all good modern poets this is a terrific way in.
In a fascinating introduction, Ruth Padel discusses issues of bias towards the poetry written by men. She also lays to rest the idea that women's poetry deals with the concrete, domestic inward life, while men bestride the public world - which receives more poetic acclaim. It is pitiable to realise such a defence is still required.
I found that this books interesting introductory essay, helpful and soothing (I wasn't as far off the mark as I thought I was).
However it was Ms Padel's analysis of the poems along with a brief biography of each poet that I found most helpful and easily applicable to other poems.
Most importantly, I found myself as a male, reading female poets with enjoyment and interest instead of my usual defensive, faint bewilderment.
Highly recommended for the nervous and bewildered.
I love the presentation and style which gently and firmly guides the reader.
I admire hugely Ruth Padel's breadth and depth of knowledge and also the way she entwines this around the poems of others.
I took it on my recent holiday to China. Perhaps an incongruous choice, but somehow its expansion for me was in a different sphere from the expansion experienced in this immense country, through which I was travelling, and served to ground me in a different and complimentary way.
The format of the book makes it an confortable companion, yet its content challenges and stirs and teaches.
Because there is so much to learn and understand (but not overwhelmingly), I have already re-read parts, and will do so for some time.
As someone who grew up in Ireland I was struck by the contribution of Irish poets to recent and contemporary poetry. I knew something of this, but not much. This and the wonderful, erudite analysis of words and rhythms involved in the poems chosen, and the subtety conveyed, really engaged me.
It has made me more interested in and eager to understand even more about the development and importance of poetry.
I have already recommended it to my spouse, and two days ago to my ex-English teacher, now in her eighties, living in Belfast. I.m looking forward and have also bought "The poem and the Journey". I will be taking it along to our small reading group next week.
Maybe I'll get the chance to do a workshop with the author some day!
The ineptly written introduction falls among several stools. As an explanation of the techniques employed in poetry, it cuts too many corners and for a beginner contains too many unexplained specialist terms. As a potted history of poetry it omits many key developments, and as an introduction to contemporary verse, it misleadingly and infuriatingly equates progress in poetry with anti-Thatcherite and feminist thinking.
Some of the 52 poems are indisputably fine pieces, and it's good to see excellent examples of the work of U.A. Fanthorpe, Elaine Feinstein, Liz Lochhead, and Fleur Adcock. Seamus Heaney's well-known poem The Skunk is here, as is Thom Gunn's Still Life. But really good poems such as these speak for themselves, and don't require the hugely laborious dissection job that seems to be Ruth Padel's preferred line of approach. Very many of the poems in the collection are relatively unknown over-intricate pieces that would have been best left in obscurity. Indeed one is tempted to conclude that if a poem needs taking apart word by word and sound by sound before it makes sense, it shouldn't really have been written in the first place.
Each of the 52 poems is immediately followed by Ruth Padel's commentary-cum- analysis, and as one reads each poem, one is uncomfortably conscious of the earnest teacher impatiently lurking in the wings, piece of chalk in hand. The analyses, frequently impaired by rather sloppy English, are not always very convincing and one often winces as Padel forces the poem into her own preconception of the poet's intention.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Incredible book. The essay at the beginning is worth the price of the book alone! Wonderfully incisive- an absolute must read!Published 10 months ago by MF
This is an amazing book. You'll never look at poetry the same way again.
As a student, it's invaluable in showing me how to look at forms and ways with words, but it is clear... Read more
Here was I thinking that the art of poetry was dying! Clearly it's alive and well.
The format of the book - a poem a week - is also original and effective and the literary... Read more
Fantastic. I spent the majority of my life thinking there were only 51 ways of looking at a poem.Published 18 months ago by Durg
Ruth Padel is a poet in her own right and that is one of the main reasons why I asked my husband to buy this book for me. Read morePublished on 17 April 2013 by Richard M. Seel
This book is essential reading for anyone interested in writing technically perfect poetry. It helps to produce a commentary for those doing writing poetry courses. Read morePublished on 17 April 2012 by Dr Alan Hearsum
The book starts out with a great intro chapter to poetry, but gradually descends into a rant about male poems, their ventriloquising of women, and the 'rebarbative' (not an... Read morePublished on 14 Jan. 2012 by Olly