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Discovery of Poetry

4.01  ·  Rating Details  ·  286 Ratings  ·  36 Reviews
The Discovery of Poetry introduces the art and craft of poetry. From an early tribal orison on the rising sun to a recent freeway lyric just out of the word processor, poems always reveal the writer's concerns, feelings, and values. Starting with words and images, this book hopes to help the student understand the importance of word choice and image-making, building a foun ...more
Paperback, 656 pages
Published January 2nd 1994 by Harcourt Brace College Publishers (first published January 1st 1987)
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I LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS BOOK!! It's like a poetry course in your hand!!! I highly recommend it!
Jan 22, 2008 Leslita rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I use a lot of field guides and this book is designed as a classic field guide. For the "I'm not a poet," reader or writer and for the hardcore poet alike, this is a great reference book also handy to just read when you are not in the mood for fiction. The detail of information and the choices of poems used as examples make this book worth keeping and getting out over and over to reread.
Dec 25, 2013 Tracy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An overview and introduction by a poet and teacher who went on to fame and fortune when she wrote a memoir about her life in Tuscany. I studied the first edition of this book, originally published in the 1980’s, years before anyone had heard of Frances Mayes. I maintain that her writing success is built on her in-depth knowledge of the workings of poetry. The pattern of writing/studying poetry before becoming famous in another genre is fairly common (C.S. Lewis, Shakespeare, Vladimir Nabokov and ...more
This was the textbook for the workshop I'm taking at the New School. It was hard to keep a straight face while reading a "field guide to poetry" by the lady who wrote Under the Tuscan Sun. But as loopy as the text got, the example poems were a decent mix of old and new that was pleasant to revisit. A decent shelf reference, but not that much fun to read cover-to-cover.
Catherine L.
Apr 29, 2008 Catherine L. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Catherine by: Washington Post Book World
Shelves: read-it-loved-it
Yes, it's sometimes difficult, she's erudite, and forces you to think hard, but oh, what fun when a poem connects and sings in your head, when you get goosebumps from a gorgeous phrase, when you laugh out loud at a cleverness. Everyone should have a copy.
May 02, 2008 Pamela rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ongoing
Frances Mayes teaches writing (or at least did some time ago) at San Francisco State University. This is a book on writing poetry that is enjoyable for anyone who enjoys poetry, whether they write it or not.
Feb 19, 2008 Natalie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: to all those who love and write poetry
Recommended to Natalie by: The author, herself
If I only owned one book about poetry, this would be it. Frances Mayes taught at the university level for almost 30 years. She knows what she's talking about.
Oct 30, 2007 Jen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
This was the textbook in my college poetry writing course...lovely examples of poems and interesting exercises to get the creative juices flowing.
Jul 04, 2010 Kate rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So good I want to actually spend money to buy it and keep it for my own.
I read a page or two of this a day off and on for a couple years and I can tell that I get a lot more out of poetry now then I did when I started. I can't imagine what it would be like to have to read this for a course, a prescribed number of pages a week, and to actually do all the suggested exercises and participate in discussions about the poems; I suspect that would be very intense. Somewhere in the middle, though, I got to thinking that I would like to do that some day, take an actual cours ...more
Tracy O
Jan 26, 2008 Tracy O rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Poetry Lovers and to Those Who Want to Love Poetry
Shelves: poetry
The range of poems in this book - particularly the contemporary poems is SO solid. I love Marin Headlands by Jane Miller. I even love the John Ashberry poem in this book and I truly hate John Ashberry's poems. The choices are just great. Here's a W.S. Merwin poem I really like:

For the Anniversay of My Death

Every year without knowing it I have passed the day
When the last fires will wave to me
And the silence will set out
Tireless traveller
Like the beam of a lightless star
Then I will no longer
Andrea Scherer
This would be a stellar book for an intro to poetry class, for the novice who doesn't know much about poetry but wants to learn. There are definitely parts of this book that shine: her discussion of language and the use of words to texturize, or surprise, her advice about interpretation, and the exercises that are scattered throughout the book and gathered together at the end for writing poetry. I found much of the poetry included to be old and overused. As an English major and someone who just ...more
Philip Gordon
Feb 15, 2014 Philip Gordon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, 2013
This was the text used in my first year poetry course at Vancouver Island University. It's a wonderfully structured book with great examples, a wide-breadth of subject matter and voices, engaging instructive style, and some very moving poems selected as well. I'd highly recommend it for anyone interested in the craft of poetry. I reread some of the poems inside on a daily basis ('Dulce et decorum est', 'From An Atlas of the Difficult World', 'Jubilate Agno', and others) and felt overcome by emot ...more
Catherine Johnson
The perfect introduction to all forms of poetry and many, many wonderful poems from famous poets past and present. Frances lists lots of excellent poetry exercises at the end too. I can't wait to read Under the Tuscan Sun next.
Nov 02, 2009 Carmen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: instructional, poetry
I'm reading this as part of a poetry reading group, and it has been a very helpful guide...especially for someone like me who hasn't put any effort into reading poetry since college.
Abbi Dion
Pretty great guide. Introduced me to one of my favorite sestinas, "Vanishing Point"
Read for a poetry class. Gives some great advice for those interested in writing poetry and she also includes a wonderful selection of poetry examples that runs the gamut.
Jul 12, 2009 K rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading and using as a resource this month. Lots of writing exercises for the dreaded "writer's block" which is also known as procrastination :-).
Debbie Teashon
Jan 24, 2016 Debbie Teashon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: inspiration
When I am looking for inspiration, this is one of my go to books. This has a permanent place at my bedside. The book includes a lot of other author's poetry to show, teach and inspire me with my own writing.

Mayes an accomplished writer and poet herself, leads you down an inspired path to finding your own prose.
Tandava Brahmachari
A fine way to spend some time thinking about poetry with the author. Though I would have preferred more poems with commentary and fewer poems simply printed out at the ends of chapters as additional examples. I'm awfully picky about poetry, and so when faced with a large set of poems I pretty quickly just start cutting out the ones I don't enjoy and not considering them in terms of the actual theme of the chapter. And some were just excessive -- like all 16 pages of The Eve of St. Agnes. Sheesh. ...more
D. Thompson
Dec 27, 2014 D. Thompson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I woman really knows her poetic stuff. The explanations and examples will blow your mind and in no time you will be writing college level poetry.
Aug 28, 2015 Nicole rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
We definitely have different styles and preferences of what's good poetry but super informative in terms of language and craft.
Jul 15, 2016 Amanda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reference, poetry
i would give this book to every new poet, or writer just starting to share their work.
Margaret1358 Joyce
A generous, leisurely look-largely, but not exclusively, at English language poetry from a vast historical spectrum-is presented here in such a way that the 'how' of it all, i.e., poetry, leaps off each page. Someone once said that poetry is something that is thrown and which is either caught or not. That's how this book worked for me. Some of it I caught, some I didn't. But the catching-of the metrical, line-break,metaphoric and other magical aspects of lots of moving poems-made this a gratifyi ...more
Emily Crow
Aug 26, 2013 Emily Crow rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: art-and-lit
Out of all the books on appreciating poetry that I have read, this is the only one that actually inspires me to actively read, and write. I think that some have criticized this book for not being superficial, and it probably is. But I am not a poet or an academic, just someone who loves to enrich my world with good writing, and this book is perfect for that purpose.
Jan 14, 2009 Crissy rated it it was amazing
I recently picked up this college textbook again and have thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Ah the change of perspective on a book when it ceases to be "required" reading and enters the realm of pleasure reading. It made my fingers itch to get writing again, and made my mind whirl with ideas for poems, contributing several lines to my "snipets" journal.
Aug 28, 2009 Amanda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
as the title suggests, a field guide. good introduction to the mechanics of poetry, and also excellent for gaining immediate exposure to a variety of writers and styles. mayes writes with an obvious passion for the craft, and her insights are valuable.
Jun 25, 2012 Nina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good book for beginning to experienced poetry writers. The exercises were some of the best I've seen in poetry-writing-books. Her section on voice is excellent. Lots of poems offered as examples, but I wish she had used far more contemporary poems.
Sheri Fresonke Harper
I kept it as a resource after I used in in my beginning poetry class. Often when I have questions about forms or need an example, this is a good place to start. Covers many of the basics including rhythm, rhyme, forms, lines, emotional context, voice.
May 01, 2014 Valerie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The best poetry anthology I've come across so far. Selection of poetry is top-notch, plus the analyses are insightful, beautifully written, and a joy to read. From the author of Under the Tuscan Sun.
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Frances Mayes's new book is Under Magnolia: A Southern Memoir , published by Crown. With her husband, Edward Mayes she recently published The Tuscan Sun Cookbook. Every Day in Tuscany is the third volume in her bestselling Tuscany memoir series.

In addition to her Tuscany memoirs, Under the Tuscan Sun and Bella Tuscany , Frances Mayes is the author of the travel memoir A Year in the Wor
More about Frances Mayes...

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“Writing a poem doubles, triples the experience or connection that initiated it.” 1 likes
“No one can teach anyone to be a great anything. If your blood is on fire with the love of language and the desire to make something with words, you probably know that.” 1 likes
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