"Concise, learned, revisionary... should enrich the passionate conversation about poetic forms for years to come."— Edward Hirsch, author of How to Read a Poem and Fall in Love with PoetryTwo beloved and esteemed poets have collaborated on this intimate and useful anthology illuminating the history, practice, and wonder of our most elusive art. Intended for all those who love poetry, including teachers, readers, writers, and students, The Making of a Poem will be especially valued by those who feel that an understanding of form—sonnet, ballad, villanelle, sestina, etc.—would enhance their appreciation of poetry, but are daunted by the terms, the names, and the histories of various poetic forms. This anthology draws the reader in, by example and explanation, to the excitement and entertainment of these forms. It explains their origins, traces their development, and shows examples from the past and present. In a feature called "The form at a glance" the reader can try his or her own hand writing a particular form. Included are essays by each of the editors describing their own personal journeys toward a form for their poetic voice. Above all, this anthology shows that poetic form is a continuing adventure. Contemporary poets can be seen here trying out the same forms that poets used hundreds of years ago, but in the new circumstances of a complicated modern world. In this way poetic form is illustrated not as a series of rules, but as a passionate conversation in which every reader of poetry can become involved. "A marvelous new anthology."—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Back out of all this now too much for us,One can readily see both the advantages and the limitations of such a format: definitions are kept lean, at times approaching the sound bite, and the short sentences and brief paragraphs often seem designed for a readership more accustomed to journalism than to the complexities of Dante (see, for example, the one-page history of the sestina). All of this looks like an attempt to reach an audience of both college students and general readers. While more information might help (brief comments on why certain poems in the anthology are defined as odes, pastorals, or elegies, for example), the bottom line is that The Making of a Poem does an excellent job of taking the inexperienced reader inside the mystery of poetic form. In these terms the volume succeeds, giving us a way into the history of poetry, along with an excellent anthology as a starting point for a deeper exploration of the glories of the genre. --Doug Thorpe
Back in a time made simply by the loss
of detail, burned, dissolved, and broken off
Like graveyard marble sculpture in the weather,
There is a house that is no more than a house
Upon a farm that is no more than a farm
And in a town that is no more than a town.