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On Poetry [Hardcover]

Glyn Maxwell
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
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Book Description

31 May 2012
On Poetry, the latest addition to the Oberon Masters series, is a collection of short essays and reflections on poetry from the acclaimed British poet Glyn Maxwell. These essays illustrates Maxwell's poetic philosophy, that the greatest verse arises from a harmony of mind and body, and that poetic forms originate in human necessities breath, heartbeat, footstep, posture. He speaks of his inspirations, his models, and takes us inside the strange world of the Creative Writing Class, where four young hopefuls grapple with love, sex, cheap wine and hard work. Illustrated with examples from canonical poets, this is a beautiful and accessible guide to the most ancient and sublime of the realms of literature.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 170 pages
  • Publisher: Oberon Masters; First Edition edition (31 May 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1849430853
  • ISBN-13: 978-1849430852
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.3 x 18.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 61,652 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

The most compelling, original, charismatic and poetic guide to poetry that I can remember. A handbook written from the heart by one of the true modern masters of the craft. --Simon Armitage

[S]hould be read by anyone who writes poetry and anyone who's interested in how and why poetry is written...The point is that there's nothing high-minded or grandiose about this it's fun.. a masterclass in close reading and close writing... the best book about poetry I've ever read; certainly the only one that's made me laugh out loud. --The Guardian

[S]hould be read by anyone who writes poetry and anyone who's interested in how and why poetry is written...The point is that there's nothing high-minded or grandiose about this it's fun.. a masterclass in close reading and close writing... the best book about poetry I've ever read; certainly the only one that's made me laugh out loud. --The Guardian

About the Author

Glyn Maxwell has long been regarded as one of Britain's major poets. He has been awarded the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize, the Somerset Maugham Prize, and the E.M. Forster Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, as well as being shortlisted three times for both the T.S. Eliot and Forward Prizes. Three of his books were New York Times Notable Books of the Year. His One Thousand Nights and Counting: Selected Poems was published last year. Many of his plays have been staged in London and New York. They include The Lifeblood, which was British Theatre Guide's Best Play on the Fringe at Edinburgh in 2004, Broken Journey and The Only Girl in the World (both Time Out Critics' Choices). Oberon Books publishes his Plays One (The Lifeblood, The Only Girl in the World and Wolfpit), Plays Two (Broken Journey, Best Man Speech and The Last Valentine), The Forever Waltz, Liberty, After Troy, Merlin and the Woods of Time and the libretti The Lion's Face and Seven Angels.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars On Poetry 5 Sep 2012
Format:Hardcover
On Poetry by Glyn Maxwell is a thrilling book. There aren't many thrilling books in the world and very few about poetry. I hate giving stars but if I could I'd go for 4.75. I don't have time to be eloquent so here are some numbered points (wake up at the back...):

1. This book is in a hurry. I like that. It is terse and sometimes impatient. Good. It is a short, quick read and there is every possibility that I'll read it again.

2. It starts with white space. How poetry is placed on that or in that white space. How poetry isn't like prose. How poetry isn't like song. That's a really good bit, how poetry isn't like song. We all know this, don't we, instinctively? We know that even the words of best, the very best song writers are daft without music, so they aren't poetry. Full stop. Thank you very much. I paraphrase and I'm in a hurry, as I say, but that's the gist of it and very refreshing too.

3. It talks about line-endings. It respects line-endings. I'm obsessing here, I know, but line-endings are obviously very important, although so much poetry is written and published by poets who don't seem to think line-endings are anything other than lawn edging strips (you know, the green corrugated ones). Glyn Maxwell's point is, I think, that form means something and you'd better believe it.

4. It talks about 'pulse' and 'chime', the rhythm and noise of poetry (but these are described so much more accurately). Those two titles, 'pulse' and 'chime', just seem so right; not slavishly counting beats or ladling on the assonance, but knowing what's going on in a poem, as a writer and a reader; the music which is not music.

5.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Inspiring to a young poet. Engrossing for an older reader of poetry. Uses great examples of old and modern classic poems. There was a good review in the Guardian which led us to it. Very good on the 'black' and 'white' of a poem; spaces, pauses, line breaks, punctuation, structure generally. His playful tone and use of a metaphorical tutorial group to demonstrate different styles and approaches was entertaining to us, although some people might find it odd.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars taught me a lot 20 Dec 2012
By M. READ
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Which, since I'm an English graduate and former teacher, and most of the poems he takes his examples from are very familiar to me, is saying a good deal. I don't think I've ever read anything which so clearly distinguishes how the experience of both reading and writing poetry differs from other kinds of aesthetic experience. And also a lot of it is very funny: it's a creative work in its own right. I think anyone seriously interested in poetry should buy it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars On Poetry 25 Jan 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a beautifully written inspirational book for anyone interested in writing poetry or reading and appreciating the poet's craft.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars On Poetry 18 Aug 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Glyn Maxwell's book is beautifully and provocatively written - I decided to buy a copy after reading a review that excerpted a few passages and wasn't disappointed. I imagine his claims and arguments - written from a highly individual perspective - will probably be more appreciated by people who, through their reading or own writing, have already formed strong opinions on what makes poetry, makes it work, makes it different from prose, different from song lyric, because this is a book to give one second or third thoughts about all those things. And the richly associative way the book is structured, as well as the fundamental topics it covers, is a welcome departure from literary text-book-ese. Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very useful guide 25 May 2013
By Annie
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
As an amateur writer, trying to get to grips with free verse in particular, I found this an easy and useful read, at a bargain price as a daily deal.
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