Anyone who has been asked to read and understand a poem has probably wondered: What does this really mean? Have I understood this the way I was supposed to? Did I get it? As the least literal of all of forms of creative writing, poetry is for many readers also the most cryptic. Confronted by the mysteries of poetic interpretation, some people are intrigued, some become addicted, others are left frustrated. Shira Wolosky's accessibly written book, The Art of Poetry, provides a road map of the poetic form that will help its readers understand and enjoy poetry.
The Art of Poetry offers a step-by-step introduction to skills for reading poetry, working progressively from smaller units such as the individual word, the line, and the image to larger ones, such as verse forms, voice and gender, and metrical patterns. These basic skills of poetic analysis are presented in conjunction with a selection of poems that acquaints the reader with the great lyric poets in the English and American tradition. As a whole, The Art of Poetry presents a vision of poetry as dynamic, historical, and culturally engaged.
About the Author:
Shira Wolosky is Professor of English and American Literature at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Wolosky's guide is designed to introduce readers to poetry, the art form she calls "verbal music." In 14 chapters, she defines the small units of poetic form word, line, and image before moving into larger definitions of verse form and voice. The book includes a two-chapter discussion of the sonnet's form and history, as well as a discussion of gender as an element of analysis. To illustrate her theses, Wolosky (English and American literature, Hebrew Univ., Jerusalem; Language Mysticism) interprets poems by Shakespeare, Donne, Blake, Wordsworth, Dickinson, Frost, and Plath, as well as many other often-anthologized poets. The glossary is a useful reference tool, but the overall tone, while accessible, is academic, and a more contemporary listing of poets would have been better for the novice. General readers and poetry lovers will be better served by a good anthology, such as Elise Paschen and Rebekah Presson Mosby's Poetry Speaks (LJ 10/15/01). Recommended for academic libraries only. Pam Kingsbury, Florence, AL Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.