Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Poetry Month

Interested in poetry, but not sure what's good? April is National Poetry Month, and fortunately, there are many wonderful books to introduce a newbie to the very old world of poetry.

The Making of a Poem: A Northon Anthology of Poetic Forms

by Mark Strand & Eavan Boland
(821.008 MAKING)

Ever wondered if anyone still writes sonnets, or why sonnets were so popular with Shakespeare? This book focuses on different poetic forms such as the sonnet, the villanelle, the ballad, and blank verse to name a few.

What makes this book so cool is how it breaks down the explanation of each form. Each form is described at a glance: basic traits, meters, and rules. Then a history of the form's use and how it came to be is given, and finally, the contemporary context, or how poets today use the form, is given along with plenty of poetry examples.

Going over the forms like this made them so much more assessible for me. For example, the villanelle has been really popular in the twentieth century. Villanelles, because of the repetitive structure, are known to be ideal for expressing grief and pain. For a century that began with not one, but two World Wars and moved on to the Cold War and other acts of personal and global violence, the villanelle makes sense as a popular poetic form.

Poet's Choice

by Edward Hirsch
(808.81 HIRSCH)

Poet's choice is a collection of essays from Hirsch's weekly Washington Post column about poetry. Hirsch deals with a variety of topics and poets, including Reading, W. B. Yeats, Christmas Poems, Pablo Neruda, Protest Poetry, William Carlos Williams, and prose poetry. The book is divided into two sections: international poetry and American poetry. Each chapter is only two-three pages long, so these are just quick introductions to each topic and poet. This is a book to dip into, flip some pages and dip again. It's a great way to learn about new poets and poetry at the same time.

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