"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 of our foremost poets provide here a lucid, straightforward primer that "looks squarely at some of the headaches and mysteries of poetic form": a book for readers who have always felt that an understanding of form (sonnet, ballad, villanelle, sestina, among others) would enhance their appreciation of poetry. Tracing "the exuberant history of forms," they devote one chapter to each form, offering explanation, close reading, and a rich selection of examplars that amply demonstrate the power and possibility of that form.
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.