A Poet's Guide to Poetry brings Mary Kinzie's expertise as poet, critic, and director of the creative writing program at Northwestern University to bear in a comprehensive reference work for any writer wishing to better understand poetry. Detailing the formal concepts of poetry and methods of poetic analysis, she shows how the craft of writing can guide the art of reading poems. Using examples from the major traditions of lyric and meditative poetry in English from the medieval period to the present, Kinzie considers the sounds and rhythms of poetry along with the ideas and thought-units within poems. Kinzie shares her own successful classroom tactics—encouraging readers to approach a poem as if it were provisional.
The three parts of A Poet's Guide to Poetry lead the reader through a carefully planned introduction to the ways we understand poetry. The first section provides careful, step-by-step instruction to familiarize students with the formal elements of poems, from the most obvious feature through the most devious.
Part I presents the style, grammar, and rhetoric of poems with a wealth of examples from various literary periods.
Part II discusses the way the elements of a poem are controlled in time through a careful explanation and exploration of meter and rhythm. The "four freedoms" of free verse are also examined.
Part III closes the book with helpful practicum chapters on writing in form. Included here are writing exercises for beginning as well as advanced writers, a dictionary of poetic terms replete with poetry examples, and an annotated bibliography for further explanatory reading.
This useful handbook is an idealreference for literature and writing students as well as practicing poets.
Kinzie, a poet, critic, and director of the creative writing program at Northwestern University, knows her stuff. This is a sound reference book for any writer wishing to better understand the dynamics of poetry. The book is organized around six elements of style: line, syntax, diction, trope, rhetoric, and rhythm. While reasserting the claim of poetry as art, Kinzie balances the approaches (and risks) that tradition, technique, and meaning afford in the shaping of verse. Her organization asserts that the chief mechanism of thought is the sentence, and from its elegance bigger notions are built. Particularly strong is Kinzie's commitment to revealing the dynamics of how sounds and rhythms qualify thought units, vehicle qualifies tenor, and parallels continuously cooperate. While scholarly, this is also clear, unpedantic, and substantive. A good complement to the reliable verse handbooks of Louis Turco and Alfred Corn or Joseph Malof's Manual of English Meters (Greenwood, 1978).--Scott Hightower, NYU/Gallatin, New York