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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Poetic overview of modern poetry, 19 Aug. 2008
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This review is from: 52 Ways Of Looking At A Poem: or How Reading Modern Poetry Can Change Your Life: A Poem for Every Week of the Year (Paperback)
In autumn, I start a creative writing course with the Open University. One of the assignments is to write an 80-line poem. I know you out there who dash off a daily Sonnet or Etheree ( yes I had never heard of it before either )wonder what all the fuss is about.

Well the fuss is that the last poetry I studied was back in 1977-8 when I started but didn't complete English A' Level ( I decided that living on a commune where naked women -some hippie idea of moon cycles- gardened was the better option... and dear reader it was!) And frankly apart from the last few weeks, I have not written poetry since the 60's which was for some Cadburys Chocolate writing competition which I won but then so did the entire class. Clever marketing rather then good writing one suspects.

This is a poem I put together after reading this book:

He came not wearing black but
dressed as lover's
would; finery to pleasure.

My drought watered as on
a first lover's glance
and kiss. Now my last.

He holds my hand while nurse
shakes me out of my
long sleep in the white night.

I'm so ready for our dance.

Yes I know but it takes time to learn- this is only my 4th poem ever!. Thanks to 52 Ways of Looking at a Poem by Ruth Padel, I now know that this 50-word poem is a free form (1) syllabic (2) verse with rhythm maintained by the use of enjambment (3) and an underlying 7-5-7 syllabic beat within an irregular 4 stanza form(4). And that it leans to metaphorical expression through the voice of an old woman. See what happens when you read Poetry books.

British readers may recognise Ruth Padel from her long since axed Independence on Sunday poetry section where she published a modern poet's poem and then explored a way of reading or understanding it. This book pulls together 52 of those articles and introduces the reader to the who and what of modern English Poetry.

I hadn't heard of one of the poets(no sniggering in the back please) so the book enabled me to read and catch a flavour of poetry today that... lifts the veil from the hidden beauty of the world, and makes familiar objects be as if they were not familiar.

Read this book and then say modern poetry is so elitist and obscure.

(1) meaning no set metre or end rhymes
(2) meaning you count the syllables rather then the stresses
(3) meaning the line or phrase carries over on the next
(4) meaning verses
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 1 Feb 2012 15:35:14 GMT
Last edited by the author on 1 Feb 2012 15:39:08 GMT
But how's one supposed to know it's an old woman? Is it only they who ever need nursing? I took it to be a young gay man, possibly with AIDS. There's no point in being cryptic just to make it 'look like a poem'. To write poetry you need first to read loads, not just the ones Padel talks you through. I recommend Gwyneth Lewis's Hospital Odyssey, a gripping narrative poem - and the Collected Brainard's due in the spring from Library of America - treat yourself!
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