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The Art of Poetry: How to Read a Poem

The Art of Poetry: How to Read a Poem [Kindle Edition]

Shira Wolosky
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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"The project itself is both coherent and concise, relying on close readings of short, post-medieval introduce concepts of diction, syntax, metre, and rhyme. At its best, the book shows that clarity of discussion need not sell short depth of analysis, or complexity of awareness, and it is an excellent starting-point for any serious consideration of form in poetry, of what poetry does to language and what language is always ready to do to poetry."--Peter McDonald, Poetry Review"The Art of Poetry is both a superb technical manual and an authentic guide to the art of reading poetry. With brilliance and extraordinary lucidity, Wolosky illuminates such essential matters as metaphor, poetic voice, and the crucial relation of rhetoric to poetic meaning. I cannot imagine a more useful and distinguished book of this kind." --Harold Bloom, Yale University"Wolosky has written the best basic treatment I know of the art of poetry. Wolosky structures the book brilliantly, and makes the process of learning about textual virtuosity and semantic complexity a joy. She builds her explications from the ground up (or from the surface down), always with attention to what it means to make a student get into a poem step by step. I have learned a great deal from this work, though I've been teaching poetry for twenty years. This is a genuinely important book, and I predict it will become in short time a standard text for teaching poetry."--Sacvan Bercovitch, Harvard University"Here is a generous Art of Poetry for the modern English-speaking world. How tellingly Shira Wolosky moves from matters of taxonomy to those of technique, from the rudiments of poetic form to the resonance of poetic voice and point of view--from praxis to theory and back, from literary history to the experience of the literature itself. For at every step the author supports her claims with readings of individuals poems that are close and adept, eloquent and acute. This book is a welcom

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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, 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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fascinating and very readable. 14 Sep 2011
By ozfish
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I'm half way through this book so far and for the first time in my life, I'm reading a book about how poetry works that I find as fascinating and readable as a good novel. The author clearly has the academic knowledge and wide experience of poetry needed to be authoritive, but wears the learning lightly. I don't have an English degree, but don't feel out of my depth. I really feel I'm being taught by an expert. New words and concepts are introduced in the context of detailed analysis of poems that are printed in full in the chapter where they are discussed. I have tried reading other academic texts about poetry - this is by far the most readable, but it does still introduce and explain all the complex ideas - things like metonymy, trope, anaphora etc. as well as the more familiar simile, metaphor,... Excuse me, I can't stay away from it any longer. I'll just go and read the next chapter. What a treat.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clear and Comprehensive 1 Feb 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The title of this book probably underplays its impressive scope and extremely well considered structure. It should be of value to anyone wishing to gain a technical understanding of poetry but also those who may already possess this but wish to have a concise source of reference. To complement this work with a more philisophic approach I would recommend Glyn Maxwell's ''On Poetry'.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars interesting 13 Feb 2008
By rommers
This book is presumably aimed mostly at an academic market, but the casual reader should not be put off by that. It's very readable and an interesting insight into how poetry is put together and how all the various aspects (words, syntax, rhythm etc) work together. Highly recommended for anyone interested in why good poems are good.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Poetry undressed 12 July 2009
By S. E. Miller - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The best book on poetry explication I've ever seen! As a student or just someone who loves poetry, this text breaks down the elements of poetry in a clear and almost poetic way to aid in the understanding of what poetry is. Throughly enjoyable to read. Lots of examples of classic poetry are explicated line by line to show how poets do what they do and the importance of each syllable. A great book and fabulous resource.
5 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars This may be biased 14 Jan 2009
By G. Brown - Published on
I was pressured into reading this book by my poetry and advanced composition professors. This is not a book to sit down and read through. It is more of a textbook style with small writing but many examples for the topics (meter, syntax, voice, etc.). Causing the chapters to span well over ten pages, Wolosky goes into detail about each topic. There are cool extras such as a table of contents, index, and glossary, but these just add to the "textbook" idea. Good book, but not something to read in your free time. (Not if you want an understanding of it)
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poetry is language in which every component element-word and word order, sound and pause, image and echo-is significant, significant in that every element points toward or stands for further relationships among and beyond themselves. Poetry is language that always means more. &quote;
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Diction has to do with word choice, selecting the individual words that make up the poem. Syntax has to do with the basic grammar that organizes the words into phrases or sentences. &quote;
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Diction, then, is the selection of individual words in terms not only of a word's meaning but of its level or type. &quote;
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