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Discovery of Poetry: A Field Guide to Reading and Writing Poems
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Discovery of Poetry: A Field Guide to Reading and Writing Poems

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4.04 of 5 stars 4.04  ·  rating details  ·  223 ratings  ·  28 reviews
The bestselling author of Under the Tuscan Sun brings poetry
out of the classroom and into the homes of everyday readers.

Before she fell in love with Tuscany, Frances Mayes fell in love with verse. After publishing five books of poetry and teaching creative writing for more than twenty-five years, Mayes is no stranger to the subject. In The Discovery of Poetry, an accessibl
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Paperback, 544 pages
Published November 9th 2001 by Mariner Books (first published January 1st 1987)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-29 of 494)
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Melissa
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 5 of 5 stars
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.
Natalie
Feb 19, 2008 Natalie rated it 4 of 5 stars
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.
Lisa
I LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS BOOK!! It's like a poetry course in your hand!!! I highly recommend it!
Tracy O
Jan 26, 2008 Tracy O rated it 4 of 5 stars
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
Find
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Tracy
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
Leslita
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.
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.
Pamela
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.
Carmen
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" http://inwardboundpoetry.blogspot.com...
Elizabeth
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.
K
Reading and using as a resource this month. Lots of writing exercises for the dreaded "writer's block" which is also known as procrastination :-).
Jen
Oct 30, 2007 Jen rated it 4 of 5 stars
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.
Kate
So good I want to actually spend money to buy it and keep it for my own.
Philip Gordon
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
D. Thompson
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.
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
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.
Crissy
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.
Amanda
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.
Nina
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.
Valerie
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.
h
Great for readers and writers alike. Mayes goes step by step and explicates by holding hands with brilliant work both modern and classic. English centric with some translations.
Karen
Beautiful poetry written and presented in different styles. I loved the varitey. Reminds us of many of the all time famous poets.
James Kendall
was an ok text book. has some interesting poems.
Chrissy
love love love love love
John
John marked it as to-read
Dec 25, 2014
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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 Worl
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More about Frances Mayes...
Under the Tuscan Sun Bella Tuscany A Year in the World: Journeys of a Passionate Traveller In Tuscany Every Day in Tuscany: Seasons of an Italian Life

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“Falling in love with a book brings the same catapulting madness and zest that falling in love with a person brings.” 0 likes
“Writing a poem doubles, triples the experience or connection that initiated it.” 0 likes
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