The Bluffer's Guide to Poetry (Bluffer's Guides) Paperback – 1 May 2013
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An irreverent, irresistible shortcut to becoming well-versed. --Laura Barber, Editor of Penguin s Poems for Life
About the Author
Born in Newcastle upon Tyne in 1954, Keith Hann grew up in a household devoted to the music of the two Maxes, Jaffa and Bygraves, but luckily introduced himself to opera shortly before leaving school. Over the last 40 years he has watched the curtain rise on more than 1,000 operatic performances, and waited until it fell on 997 of them. In order to fund this addiction, he has been variously employed as an unsuccessful stockbroker and an incompetent but occasionally entertaining public relations consultant. Decades of skilful bluffing brought him to the brinks of retirement without any lasting romantic entanglements, until a momentary lapse of concentration one evening at Covent Garden led to his marriage at the age of 54, and the subsequent arrival of two children. Keith currently devotes most of his time to not writing a novel and staring forlornly at his bank statements. In consequence, he values his now strictly rationed excursions to opera houses more than ever.
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Top Customer Reviews
There are a few errors of accuracy which I wanted to correct (Philip Sidney’s Arcadia and Apologie for Poetry are both prose, not poetic, works – and the Apologie is the same as the Defence of Poesy, just a ‘pirated’ edition) but these are few and far between.
I especially enjoyed the scathing hints on how to wriggle out from having a poet actually read you his/her poetry (I work in a department with a large creative writing programme so these tips are gratefully received!).
So, in summary, this would serve well as a tongue-in-cheek introduction for undergraduates faced with one of the many first year poetry modules – or any general reader who enjoys a romp through the landscape of English verse.
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.
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).Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Easily understood. Always been fascinated to unlock the mysteries of poetry. This book helpsPublished 5 months ago by MR JESSE A LAWRENCE
This book is jem. Hugely funny and at the same time imforms with so much in a small space. I am a poet and my wife is my most valued and severest critic. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Charles Clare
I am only a novice wanting to expand my knowledge in Poetry and The Bluffer's Guide to Poetry gave me so much more than I was expecting!!!. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Polly
As someone who is studying English but doesn't like poetry, I was genuinely surprised with how much I liked this Guide. Read morePublished on 17 July 2014 by Michelle
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... Read morePublished on 3 Oct. 2013 by T. Bently
"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... Read morePublished on 21 Sept. 2013 by Martin Turner
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... Read morePublished on 27 May 2013 by Mrs. K. A. Wheatley