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Leaping Poetry: An Idea With Poems and Translations
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Leaping Poetry: An Idea With Poems and Translations

4.21  ·  Rating Details  ·  184 Ratings  ·  23 Reviews
Part poetry anthology, part critical treatise, Leaping Poetry is a major statement by one of American's most distinguished poets. Bly's thesis is that great works of art contain leaps within themselves: 'A poet who is leaping makes a jump from an object soaked in unconscious substance to an object or idea soaked in conscious psychic substance.' The greatest works of art ca ...more
Paperback, 93 pages
Published July 20th 1997 by Beacon Press (first published 1975)
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Oct 29, 2008 Adam rated it it was amazing
"In ancient times, in the 'time of inspiration,' the poet flew from one world to another, 'riding on dragons'. . . . They dragged behind them long tails of dragonsmoke. . . . This dragonsmoke means that a leap has taken place in the poem. In many ancient works of art we notice a long floating leap at the center of a work. That leap can be described as a leap from the conscious to the unconscious and back again, a leap from the known part of the mind to the unknown part and back to the known."

Jul 29, 2015 Richard rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
Robert Bly, before, after, but not during his Iron John phase has been one of my favorite poets. First contact was with The Tooth Mother Naked at Last, a great poem out of the Vietnam War period. A harrowing poem. His own writing has gotten simpler with time, and he should have much more recognition than he does. I see there's a film coming out - that will help a little. Equally adept as a translator, his work with Nobel Laureate Tomas Transtromer is sublime. A copy of Friends, You Drank Some Da ...more
May 08, 2011 Bennet rated it it was amazing

I first read this years ago, and though I was enjoying poetry at that point, I had yet to really appreciate it. This little book is what got me going.

Bly explores the influence of culture and language upon approaches to poetry, and offers poems from Spain, Japan, Sweden, Germany and America to show the kinds of imagery and sound that make for evocative and provocative leaps of imagination. Because that's what poetry is all about for Bly: leaps of imagination, of association, among images and so
Jon Stout
Nov 14, 2014 Jon Stout rated it liked it
Recommends it for: left-brain people
Shelves: poetry
This is one book that I didn’t understand at all, and yet I enjoyed. Robert Bly argues that the best poetry makes leaps from one unconscious idea to another, and from unconscious to conscious, by means of association. I believe him, and yet when I read the many poems he uses as examples, I have no idea where the leaps are. I see gaps and strange juxtapositions, but I don’t see the connections. Maybe that proves that the leaps are unconscious.

I like the way that Bly throws out speculative ideas w
Mar 15, 2015 Jsavett1 rated it it was amazing
I read this in two hours. Robert Bly is a master poet and an expert provocateur. He's also a little kooky in a wonderful way. This book is his short but important manifesto about our estrangement from imagination and the parts of our brains which honor and seek myth. He believes this estrangement is due to Christianity's ethical and theological system and that the effect is much to our detriment. It was inspiring reading. The poems by Lorca and Vallejo and Bly's own essays make a compelling case ...more
Feb 24, 2014 Laura rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
This book has a lot of wonderful ideas I have never though of before, or at least not in detail. How rapid and leaping associations make poems powerful. Surrealism, of course, is the embodiment of this technique.But how does one achieve the leaps?

Writing and erasing some of the the links is of course a very basic way to achieve some sort of leaping thoughts, but not enough. What Bly states about the Spaniards of the 20th century - wild associations, emotion cascading in words on the page - and w
Jul 23, 2007 John rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: poets

This was my introduction, many years ago now, to looking at poetry in a different way. It feels a bit dated now, but so do I, most days.
Jan 14, 2012 Kayla rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
this makes no sense! everything i thought i knew about poetry has been blown up in my face.
Feb 14, 2008 Rauan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
crazy bull-headed and brilliant
May 11, 2012 Nicola rated it really liked it
A wonderful, bite-size (as in edible and, yes, sound-worthy/quote-worthy) book. I found Bly's basic premise that poetry is a product of both the unconscious and conscious mind very provocative. It made me re-see some of my favorite poets and my own work.

Though it's true that the translations are uneven and Bly makes unqualified pronouncements at times, I loved the international range of this collection and the flash and teeth of Bly's opinionated wit.

It's also wonderful to trace the inception
i needed a bit more to bite into to take this leap
Dec 04, 2012 LemontreeLime rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
Bly's words are equal parts cryptic and methodical as he discusses his topic of what makes poetry really live. The best have a quality of 'leaping' from subject to subject in ways that make sense not logically but something deeper. The poems included are very good. But exhausting. At least i was exhausted. I thought about it later and said to myself, those damn poems are like a nightmare on speed, like a funhouse ride at the surrealist theme park, and now i'm tired after reading them.
Jacob Israel Chilton
This is the first book that got me to read poetry. I think it is the reason that I am in grad school now. I think it might be the most important book in my entire life. Should read it again before giving it a full 5 stars, but what the hell: read it; it's really good (I think).


Patrick Mcgee
Mar 12, 2013 Patrick Mcgee rated it really liked it
I read the 1972 version and still found most of Bly's insights helpful. His examples of leaping poets and their work did a good job of displaying his central points so the reader can latch onto them. Overall, I would recommend this book to other poets.
Nov 09, 2007 Alison rated it it was amazing
You can read this book in one sitting, and after reading it you won't be able to read a one-page poem in one sitting ever again! Okay, that's not exactly true, but it does help me think about why I like certain poetry and even poetic prose.
Oct 23, 2010 Vpal23 rated it really liked it
While this book is old, and it addresses some absurd poetry, such as Lorca's, the concept remains a true tenant in writing poetry. Bly's concept of leaping in poetry is something that serves as a creative fulcrum, in my opinion.
Oct 30, 2013 Celia rated it it was ok
This is really just "an idea," more poetry collection than a study. Though I liked the concept of the leap, I thought Bly's explanation of it was limited, and I was turned off by the many typos in the Spanish poems.
Sep 09, 2009 Satia rated it really liked it
For a book so slender, it is overflowing with brilliant content. I'd recommend it to anyone who is serious about their poetry. For more:
Mar 28, 2009 Jessica rated it really liked it
Have read references to this seminal work over the years; it was good to read the actual book. Oddly my intellect responds to these arguments but not my emotions; rather an unexpected response.
Ann Michael
Dec 15, 2007 Ann Michael rated it really liked it
Yes, I know the criticisms, that the translations aren't terrific, that Bly is irritating etc etc.
But I love this little book & have found it terrifically inspirational over the years.
Apr 24, 2011 Aran rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
It was interesting in parts--the general idea of leaping is appealing, though the explanations aren't as compelling and the translations themselves seem clunky.
Jul 04, 2012 Yael rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, favorites
ESSENTIAL READING!!!!!! Concise, fantastic explanation of the unexplainable!
Saruta Siriwatanakul
Jul 09, 2013 Saruta Siriwatanakul rated it it was amazing
Thought-provoking and stimulating read!
James Cook
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Robert Bly is an American poet, author, activist and leader of the Mythopoetic Men's Movement.
More about Robert Bly...

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