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on 18 November 2012
Slavko Mihalic, Aleksandar Petrov, and Ferida Durakovic may not be household names in the US, but if you're a fan of global poetry, you may be delighted to discover their work. Consider them treasures to find as you explore a new treasure map for poetry enthusiasts: The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics has released a new fourth edition. The time that has passed since the third edition appeared (in 1993) has meant dramatic changes in the political and geographical atmosphere, and this new edition explores a host of new names to research and discover.

Given that I prefer to focus on Eastern European and Russian literature, I decided to explore the entries for nations that didn't even exist or were brand new entities when the third edition came out. First, some general information about the book: this is not an encyclopedic collection of poets. There are no entries for Whitman or Dickinson or Ginsberg. Rather, it focuses on the literary terms and styles of poetry, including sections for the poetry specific to certain nations and cultures.

The sections on smaller, new nations are comprehensive and complete, containing a bit of the political scene but focusing more on the influences and poets before and after major crises occurred.

From Slovakia: Mila Haugova, Jan Buzassy, and Daniel Hevier are listed as contemporary poets, and reference is made to a 2010 release "Six Slovak Poets" (available here: [...]) that promises to explore the seriousness and humor unique to the region. Yes, I must have it!

Slovenia: Gregor Podlagar, Maja Vidmar, and Lucija Stupica.

Croatia: Slavko Mihalic, Daniel Dragojevic, and Drago Stambuck

Bosnia: Abdulah Sidran, whose poetry the editors remarked as "imbued with a sadness resulting from his perception of disharmony in the world." Given his locale, the exploration of this poet should be fascinating while likely tragic. The editors state, "His poems give the impression of settling accounts with life." Comparing his work to those of the same region but differing political bases should make for a fascinating study. It would also be interesting to use the Encyclopedia to compare these contemporary poets with early 20th century poets in the same regions suffering other types of oppression.

Czech Republic: Petr Borkovec writes about the "upheaval in Czech culture" that occurs with the disintegration of political lines while the peoples and culture remain in static.

Serbia: Novica Tadic and Aleksandar Petrov

Albania: Dritero Agolli and Ismail Kadare (also known for his fiction). Fun fact: despite chaos in the region and the intellectual suppression of dictator Hoxha, "verse collections...account for more than 50% of literary output" (31). An astonishing amount, considering that an expert in poetics in the US, Maggie Balistreri, estimates about 2100 books of poetry are published in the US per year ([...]) while according to Wiki (I know, sorry!) the remainder of published works runs well over 300,000.

Another worthy mention is that this version lists useful websites for further research, notably The Poetry International Web Net ([...]) that allows you to search by country.

I think my only disappointment was that Belarus didn't have it's own entry, as it was combined with the Russian section, and that makes for the lack of mention of Valzhyna Mort, an amazing poet and ardent supporter of freedom in Belarus.
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on 15 September 2012
This is a significant revision of the previous Preminger/Brogan edition, which itself was a great improvement on its predecessor. Many of the entries have been completely rewritten - the new texts add both scope and comprehensibility and bring the analysis of their subjects up-to-date with contemporary scholarship. And the tone is certainly scholarly, despite the breadth of topic coverage. With bibliographic references at the end of each article, the reader is pointed towards wider sources for study.

On a more prosaic level, the physical format - a larger book and better typefaces - make the book much easier to read than any the earlier editions, although its physical heft echoes the weightiness of its analysis.

This not a light introduction to poetry or a biography of poets. Although it is an encyclopedia, with articles arranged alphabetically, it amounts to a detailed definition of what poetry is, and what it has been.

For once, the publisher's blurb is justified: if you are really interested in poetry and want to understand more about it, this book has to be in your library.
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on 22 March 2014
It is entirely bizarre that both Whitman and Dickinson are treated with utter disdain by the editors. It is surely wrong for them to describe both - as they do - as minor poets, and grossly overrated aberrations. A poor typeface, and a rather idiosyncratic internal structure, this book is large, cumbersome, and a bit of a curate's egg.

On the plus side, an awfully large amount of material is covered, but the omissions and prejudices of the editors rather spoil this study overall.

There seems to be more than a whiff of (post)postmodern American academic imperialism about this encyclopedia, and it it is poorer for this unfortunate narcissism.
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on 11 February 2014
The TLS review of the latest edition alerted me to this reference book. I've been using it for 6 months now and don't regret buying it. Every time I consult it, I learn something interesting or useful for writing/reading poetry. I don't think I'll ever exhaust it. It is a bit bulky for taking outside the study and I don't know whether the paperback would wear very well from being carried about/ chucked in the car. But it is fascinating bedtime reading. It's an invaluable check on poetic forms /terms and saves digging through several books. (For individual poets writing in English, I can use the Oxford Companion to Modern Poetry.). Great to browse in when you maybe feel a bit tired to read the poems themselves.
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Given that the typeface is larger, more may be less here. I must say that, along with Rhyme's Reason (3rd ed 2001) and The Encyclopedia of American Poetry (Twentieth Century) of the same year, I've always been perfectly content with my second 'enlarged' edition of this opus, which already contained 992 pages. Who goes to these sorts of works for an up-to-the-minute view? I thought the 3rd, with its 1434 pages, too bulky - and now this, possibly ill-advised, update. See the lead critical review on amazon.com - and try before you buy
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on 7 January 2013
A great deal of work (six years in fact, although many, many more, if the combined multiple years of experience and scholarship of the contributors to this grand volume are taken into consideration) has gone into the compilation of this comprehensive guide to the vast field of Poetics, which embraces both the theoretical and the practical study of poetry. This volume, which is the fourth edition of this leading work, is founded, as well as much expanded, on the three preceding noteworthy editions. The distinguished team of editors that refined and brought the previous work that had been done on this insightful and leading work completely up-to-date personally evaluated each and every entry in the preceding edition, which was brought out almost two decades ago, in 1993, in order to see which should be retained, which amended with information that had since become available, and which should be entirely replaced with more relevant and contemporary insights, either on long-standing topics and issues, or on ones that had emerged during the time period concerned. An outstanding feature of this work has been the amount of collaboration that has contributed towards it remaining a key work in the extensive field of poetry and Poetics. Not only have the latest contributors to this volume worked jointly on a number of the entries, but previous contributors have, on many occasions, also had their say, and have been fully acknowledged for so doing, on how, where relevant, certain entries could be made more extensive and more contemporaneous.

Of the more than 1,100 entries that fill the pages of this exceptionally well-written volume, 250 entries are completely new, attesting to the significant extent of strides in the field of Poetics that have occurred over the last two decades, including the number of new schools of thought that have emerged during this period. The coverage of international poetries and movements, and the effect of new digital media on the development of poetry and its critique, has also been broadened and made more intensive. Although the 1639+ pages of the current volume have not allowed for the inclusion of individual entries on specific poets or their works, many of the entries contain allusions to such, with the expanded and contemporized bibliographies accompanying the entries serving as a key to further perusal of supplementary and complementary material on the more specific elements involved. In addition, the brand-new index, which was lacking in the previous three editions of this magnum opus, provides access to the subtopics contained within the larger entries. The entries that the Encyclopedia contains, in alphabetical order, consist of the following types: terms and concepts; genres and forms; periods, schools, and movements; the poetries of nations, regions, and languages; and poetry in relation to other cultural forms, disciplines, and social practices, such as linguistics, religion, and science.

In short, The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics is to be thoroughly recommended, not only for its broad sweep of history and for its worldwide coverage (with much additional focus on the poetry and Poetics of Latin America, East and South Asia, Africa, and Eastern Europe), but also for its clear organisation and presentation that is in keeping with sound academic principles.
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on 28 September 2014
as advertised
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on 9 May 2013
Much better than the last edition. Fully updated with an index. Loads of entries rewritten entirely. Indispensable, but you will need a trolley to move it around: it's huge.
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on 27 November 2015
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