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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A BLUFFING TOOL FOR WANNABE INTELLECTUALS
Bluffing about your knowledge and pretending to be an expert on any subject can be very difficult and risky, and the Bluffer's Guides series has some nice useful little books to help you. This poetry guide is concise, light and fun to read, and it has any poetry related information a bluffer might need. The book includes sections on understanding poetry basics, how to...
Published 12 months ago by Eleni

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Clever and entertaining, but is it useful?
The Bluffer's Guide to Poetry is part of a reissue and revamping of a series that came out several years ago, in which you are given top tips to guide you through any dinner party conversations you might ever have on the subject in hand. In this case, poetry. The new format is neat, pocket sized text with bite sized chunks of information that you can read either all in...
Published 18 months ago by Mrs. K. A. Wheatley


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A BLUFFING TOOL FOR WANNABE INTELLECTUALS, 26 Nov 2013
By 
Eleni - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Bluffer's Guide to Poetry (Bluffer's Guides) (Paperback)
Bluffing about your knowledge and pretending to be an expert on any subject can be very difficult and risky, and the Bluffer's Guides series has some nice useful little books to help you. This poetry guide is concise, light and fun to read, and it has any poetry related information a bluffer might need. The book includes sections on understanding poetry basics, how to behave in order to be a successful bluffer, and information on different periods and styles of poetry, with brief references to specific poets and their work.

The book is informative and although it is supposed to be a bluffing tool, the reader inevitably also learns some basic facts about English poetry, though don't expect any advanced knowledge. It is definitely a light and humours read, and although I did find some of the humour entertaining, the author seems to be a bit condescending and sarcastic towards poets and poetry lovers. Also, for some reason this guide is aimed mostly at men.

The big question I suppose is whether this little guide can actually help someone to bluff about his knowledge and pretend to be a poetry expert. I am tempted to say yes, but that depends on who the bluffer wishes to impress. You can indeed use this invaluable tool to convince your girlfriend that you are the romantic intellectual type, gain the admiration of your co-workers for your poetry expertise, or make the ladies of your book club think that your living room is a literary salon. However, I doubt this will be much help if you find yourself amongst poets or even worst, true poetry experts. Poets, literary critics and scholars tend to socialize in very exclusives groups and an outsider is hardly ever invited in, if however you do somehow manage to enter the sanctuary, you will need much more than this nice guide to do any successful bluffing.

I was given a free copy by the publisher, but that did not influence my opinion in any way.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Clever and entertaining, but is it useful?, 27 May 2013
By 
Mrs. K. A. Wheatley "katywheatley" (Leicester, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Bluffer's Guide to Poetry (Bluffer's Guides) (Paperback)
The Bluffer's Guide to Poetry is part of a reissue and revamping of a series that came out several years ago, in which you are given top tips to guide you through any dinner party conversations you might ever have on the subject in hand. In this case, poetry. The new format is neat, pocket sized text with bite sized chunks of information that you can read either all in one go, or dip in and out of as you please. Memorising some of the points will indeed give you brownie points on your chosen subject I am sure.

There are a few issues here though. Firstly, how many of us are ever required to bluff about poetry these days? I imagine Mariella Frostrup at the Hay Festival possibly. Us mere mortals, never. I am a poetry enthusiast myself, and if I want to talk about poetry to someone in real life I generally can't find anyone willing or able to give me the time of day. Thank the lord for the internet and geeky, literary chat rooms.

This book then, really isn't a bluffer's guide. It can't be. And you see that, not only because there are barely any reasons to need to be able to bluff poetry knowledge these days, but also because the work within the covers is so erudite, and actually pre supposes that you, the reader, already know a fair amount about poetry, that it really is more of a self congratulatory, humorous pat on the back, and more of an invitation to get the literary jokes that you've probably been dying either to laugh at or share with someone all this time.

The book is clever. The book is entertaining. The book is well written, and the author clearly knows their stuff, but I wonder what it is really for, except perhaps as a stocking stuffer for the poetry enthusiast who has everything.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific, 25 July 2013
By 
Sid Nuncius (London) - See all my reviews
(No. 1 Hall OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 10 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Bluffer's Guide to Poetry (Bluffer's Guides) (Paperback)
I thought this was terrific. I had the good fortune to be sent a few of these Bluffer's Guides for review by the publisher: they are pocket-sized and only around 100 pages long and I have found them all amusing, informative and very enjoyable. This is one of the best. The Guides are, in fact, a bluff in themselves because although they purport to be a handbook for those who simply want to bluff their way, they use this as a cover for providing lots of very sound fact, written by people who really know and love their subject while being very witty about it and often scathing about the pretence which surrounds it.

This slim volume gives a really good basic guide to English poetry, and also to Scots, Welsh, American and Australian poets writing in English. The authors manage to be extremely witty and often laugh-out-loud funny about bad poetry and about the posing of many poets and "experts" while being interesting, respectful and insightful about some of the best poetry. To give a couple of examples of the style, they say that Fitzgerald begins his Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam with, "'Awake!...' as though the audience, or possibly the reader, is already asleep. (If you think it's impossible to read poetry and be asleep at the same time, you've either never taught English Literature, or you've been very lucky, or you've never read anything from the eighteenth century.)" A view with which I have a good deal of sympathy. Or, " Most of Byron's poetry is described by experts as 'Byronic', which shows how easy it is to be a poetry expert." On the other hand, they write of Byron himself, and others like Keats and Wilfred Owen with great respect (while still being very readable).

I am a bit of a museum-piece in that I actively read and enjoy poetry, but I still learned a good deal here - like the wonderful poem Beach Burial by the Australian Second World War poet Kenneth Slessor which I didn't know and is quoted in full in the book. (I strongly recommend that you google it if you don't know it - it's fantastic.) I laughed a lot, too, and warmly recommend this book to anyone with any interest in poetry: whether you're a novice wanting some basic facts and quotes (for bluffing or just for interest) or you're a seasoned old hand, there's a lot here to enjoy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Poseur's delight, 18 May 2013
By 
Dennis Littrell (SoCal) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Bluffer's Guide to Poetry (Bluffer's Guides) (Paperback)
This is rather clever in a predictable sort of way. The idea is to lampoon poetry and poetry snobs while giving the reader a bit of learning.

Nick Yapp who wrote the book sometime in the 1980s was a prolific writer of pop culture books (a photographic biography of Marilyn Monroe, decade books, 1960s, 1970s, etc.) and scripts for radio and TV. Richard Meier, who is a poet (and not to be confused with the American architect), edited. The further idea is to sound clever while guiding the neophyte reader to cleverness. Consequently this is a poseur's book on how to bluff your way through a cocktail party of poets. Something like that.

These snippets from the chapter entitled "Poetry Basics" will give you a feel for what the book is like.

"HOW TO DRESS FOR POETRY
Don't:
Wear a velvet smoking jacket or thick cord trousers; people will think you're a psychotherapist.

Grow a beard."

"WHAT TO DO WHEN SOMEONE THREATENS YOU WITH A POEM THEY'VE WRITTEN
The vital thing is to prevent them reading it to you..."

Yapp throws in 20 short verses that you can commit to memory and spout at appropriate times. For example:

"Beauty is truth, truth beauty,' - that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.
`Ode on a Grecian Urn', John Keats"

"I grow old...I grow old...
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.
`The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock', TS Eliot"

(I actually recite the T.S. Eliot line to myself sometimes.)

There's a bit of a tongue-in-cheek glossary at the end including a couple of terms I never heard of including:

Strophe
A complicated Greek metrical construction that usually went wildly wrong, hence `catastrophe'.

Toss in some history, a bit about poets dying young and a word or so on the current state of the art and you've got a modestly clever or cleverly modest tome in hand (or, more likely, digital words on a flat screen).

--Dennis Littrell, author of "Like a Tsunami Headed for Hilo: Selected Poems"
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4.0 out of 5 stars An Unexpected Delight, 17 July 2014
As someone who is studying English but doesn't like poetry, I was genuinely surprised with how much I liked this Guide. It both praises and jabs the poets in its recommendations, which a refreshing change of pace compared to the usual laurels of genius most people put on famous poets. I do wish that there was a more global focus on poetry, as the book is comprised of mostly English and American poets. Still, for anyone who wants to learn about poetry or expand their reading list, this would be a good place to start.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Could do better, 3 Oct 2013
By 
T. Bently "tbently" (Berkshire, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Bluffer's Guide to Poetry (Bluffer's Guides) (Paperback)
I can't be too hard on this bluffer's guide since it made me laugh out loud. I particularly liked the advice on how to behave at readings and poetry slams - wait for a pause in proceedings then ask, 'Have you got anything by Eleanor Farjeon?'
On the downside, there is far too much Eighteenth century poetry and not enough contemporary stuff. Pam Ayres gets a mention in the introduction but there are no excerpts from I Wish I'd Looked After My Teeth (or Wendy Cope or When I Am Old I Shall Wear Purple). You do get Sir Walter Raleigh, The Faerie Queen and W.H. Davies. If I was being cynical I would say this was because living poets expect to get paid for having their work quoted.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars, 10 Aug 2014
By 
Lesley (Cheshire UK) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Too clever by half!
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Oh, this is good..., 21 Sep 2013
By 
Martin Turner "Martin Turner" (Marlcliff, Warwickshire, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Bluffer's Guide to Poetry (Bluffer's Guides) (Paperback)
"John Dryden was the first official Poet Laureate, though not all his poetry is bad," is my favourite sentence from this book, which manages to disguise (as Bluffers' Guides do) a wealth of insight in the form of backhanded quips. In these pages you will read what appears to be a hugely stereotypical and rather discourteous guide to poets, poetry-lovers and verse. 'Appears', that is, unless you've already encountered your fair share of them, in which case the quips are just wickedly funny, largely because they are true.

There's been a spate of short introduction series recently, most notably the 'All that matters' series and the 'A Very Short Introduction to...' Both of these are compact and erudite, and will serve you well if, say, you are an undergraduate embarking on a new module. But none of them are as entertaining as Bluffer's Guides, and none of them show you how to format yourself like the real aficionados.

Many of the stereotype characters and remarks in this book are ones I remember encountering frequently as an English literature undergraduate, then, years later as an arts worker, and, more recently, as an aspiring author. There's something slightly Groundhog Day about them. When you hear someone saying these things, referring to the output of a poet as 'works' rather than poems, dismissing things with a hand-wave of erudition, it's hard to know whether they got these from the Bluffer's Guide, or are just perfectly parodied by them.

The moral and upright part of me has an unpleasant suspicion that these books are terribly subversive and should actually be banned. Fortunately the mischievous part of me recommends them.

Anyway, as far as this book is concerned, everything in it is more or less true, but you'll have to be quite a bluffer to actually try it out, unless you already knew it beforehand, in which case you are probably one of those people the book imitates. Magnificently entertaining, whether you are literati or just have a good sense of humour.

(Copy supplied by the publisher for review purposes).
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The Bluffer's Guide to Poetry (Bluffer's Guides)
The Bluffer's Guide to Poetry (Bluffer's Guides) by Nick Yapp (Paperback - 1 May 2013)
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