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

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  2,090 ratings  ·  127 reviews
Poetry's Ingredients: Mark Strand and Eavan Boland Explore Form

Explaining beauty is hard work. But distinguished poets Mark Strand and Eavan Boland have produced a clear, super-helpful book that unravels part of the mystery of great poems through an engaging exploration of poetic structure. Strand and Boland begin by promising to "look squarely at some of the headaches" of
Paperback, 400 pages
Published April 17th 2001 by W. W. Norton Company (first published 2000)
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Jul 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, school-reads
This wonderful book came my way as required reading in a Poetry class in college. Our professor was the best kind of MFA-type instructor, himself a great poet. Through this book, he introduced us to a variety of poetic forms and had us attempt them. The class structure extended out from the book format. It was one of the most rewarding courses I ever took.

As textbooks go, this one’s a gem, certainly one of the best constructed anthologies that the Norton Gods have ever published for us little pe
Feb 20, 2012 rated it it was ok
The poem selections are mostly good, and the lists of each form's attributes are adequate, but the sections of introductory and critical text in each chapter are nearly useless, and poorly written to a baffling degree.

Confused, sloppy syntax:
"He would die at the age of thirty, executed for no real reason by Henry VIII, except that he advised his sister to become the king's mistress and for some minor offenses."

Broad and unsupported claims, non sequitur:
"Even as a useful, witty, and musical unit
Jun 03, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
Very well done technical manual on forms and structures of poetry, probably as useful for working poets as for students or critics. Terms are clearly defined, plenty of examples, a good book to have nearby when reading (or, I would imagine, writing) poetry.
Mar 15, 2009 rated it really liked it
An excellent, accessible introduction to poetic forms. Deals more with the historical use of the form than the contemporary, but still a must-have for poets today who are experimenting with inherited forms.
Any anthology is inherently political; especially when the editor chooses to bulk it out with old, white men writing before the mid-nineteenth century.

The poems selected for this anthology serve their purpose. They show how inherited forms have evolved throughout history and how each poet treats that form differently. However, as I said, the selections could definitely have been more diverse (more women, please!) and I would have greatly appreciated further instalments of contemporary poetry, es
Ashleigh Tway
Jun 02, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: educational
I read this book for a creative writing poetry class. I can't say that it was entertaining, but it did convey the information of poetic forms in a simple and concise manner which is something lacking in a lot of other academic writing books. Some of the example poems were very beautiful and I probably wouldn't have decided to read them if it wasn't for assigned reading.

All in all, if you want to learn about poetic forms with a brief history and very little poetic analysis, this book is a really
Rachel Earling-Hopson
Apr 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A very helpful guide to writing a blank-verse poem, and am Ode, and/or a pastoral poem. This was such a great guide in all my poetry classes and could not sell it back to the school. I use it to this day. Mum, you can borrow it anytime you want to. 💚
Jordan Magnuson
A wonderful study of poetic forms through excellent poetry.
May 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2020
This is a really good overview of British and American poetry. I think it does a good job of breaking down the forms and choosing accessible poems. I don't know if Norton is still publishing this text, but I would definitely consider using it in the classroom. ...more
Persephone Abbott
Nov 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
I don't know why I bought this book, by this I mean what did I expect to mentally obtain? I like poetry, I even write poetry or attempt to write poetry. I suppose I thought that I'd learn something about poetry and honestly I looked and looked. (The poems in the book speak eloquently for themselves.) I saw poems I had never before met and I was pleased to make their visiting acquaintance while they were on Norton's Anthology World Tour. But I began to ask myself why I didn't like this book as I ...more
Jan 07, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: research-misc, poetry
This book has its positives and negatives. It is very nice to have one that goes over all different forms. It also goes through a nice explanation of changes in form over time. The two downsides are that, one, its examples are limited in what parts of the history they show and, two, The description of the different forms is not always as well explained as it could be. It was not hard for me to piece it together, but, for anyone looking at poetry for the first time, certain things could easily be ...more
Jul 12, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
I haven't completely finished this one, but I really like the way it's laid out. A great reference for poetic forms. It has the technical aspects of each form, a history of it, how it is being used in a contemporary context, and examples of the form from its beginning to the present. I like having a good sampling of examples, so you can really get a feel for what the form can express and how. I would really like to own this one. ...more
John Struloeff
Jan 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful, comprehensive anthology of form poetry. I used it in this semester's Advanced Poetry Writing course, and it's worked very well. The range of examples in each form is very good. Each form (elegy, ballad, sonnet, etc.) has an overview of the formal requirements, a brief history of the form, a brief essay on the form in contemporary poetry, samples poems in chronological order, and a brief case study. ...more
Mar 29, 2014 rated it liked it
It tries too hard to be two things at once. It has a decent collection of some poems but not enough to make it an anthology. It has a short explanation of the poetic forms but not enough to provide any true depth or insight. I like, however, that the author has taken his time to find plenty examples of villanelles, sestinas, and a couple other rare structures.
Rochelle Jewel  Shapiro
Mar 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Poets
I would never swap this book. It's not that you can't find "how-to's" of forms everywhere, but the choices of poems that Mark Strand made to illustrate each form opens the heart and intellect simultaneously. A great inspiration!
Jul 28, 2009 rated it liked it
I couldn't connect with this book. I really need contemporary examples, or have the author explain to me whats going on. I still value you it as a reference point, but i did not enjoy working through this! ...more
Apr 13, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: school, poetry
It wasn't too great at telling you how to analyze poetry. However, the collection and range of poems partly makes up for it. ...more
Apr 22, 2011 rated it liked it
A nice collection of poetry forms, with examples heavily weighted towards modern poetry.
There is a very small amount of commentary, though I think the collection would have benefited from more.
May 16, 2009 rated it liked it
I will never be a poet and I know it.
Victoria Foote-Blackman
For a book published by Norton as a Norton Anthology of Poetic Forms, this book is a disappointment, and some of the blame can be placed squarely on the shoulders of the two editors, poets Mark Strand, and Eavan Boland, for whom this was clearly not a labor of love.

The book starts out with promise, with a relatively short but interesting Introductory Statement about the history of poetry, and then two colorful but not very necessary personal statements by the two editors--though that space we e
Ian Casey
Apr 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
The Making of a Poem is not a book which lends itself to pigeon-holing. It's not a standard anthology, though given its subtitle is 'A Norton Anthology of Poetic Forms', it could be seen as a companion to The Norton Anthology of Poetry. Yet there's not much in common between those projects other than sharing some of the same poems. Nor is it intended as an exhaustive textbook, or as a beginner's introduction to poetry.

The niche the book fills is to provide a broad overview of forms of poetry fro
Joseph Hirsch
Mar 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a very well-organized introduction to the various forms of poetry, as well as a solid overview of the history and development of poetry throughout the world. The book has no strong ideological bias, but does a good job of presenting conflicting schools of thought when it comes to where and how artists differ on what they believe to be good or bad poetry. For some people rhyming is passe, a vestige of another century. For others, nothing is quite as easy or fruitless as free verse (someti ...more
Wei Chang
I am in no place to say this is a labour of love or not, but certainly the read was not very, uh, exciting?
The title "The Making of a Poem" suggests something very different, very distance from what it actually is, an anthology. What I mean to say is, it is not supposed to be read, it has to be studied. I didn't quite enjoy the book although I enjoy very much poetry. Collecting poems based on its form is understandable for specific purpose, but reading so many poems coming from vastly different
Pearse Anderson
I don't know why I bought this. We only had t read 90 pages for Dan Chaon's 201 Prose/Poetry workshop. Goddammit, I don't really want this book. It's an academic anthology, Christ. So, uh, it was interesting I guess, I could've used a bit more analysis, but I guess that's the teacher's job? It, uh, really had some examples and a lot of them and some had different styles. So cool, it did it's job, it didn't give me any love, I'm going to file it away forever now somewhere. Cool, cool, a limp 7/10 ...more
Kaylee Walterbach
May 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Finally finished! A bittersweet end. I'm liking poetry anthologies more and more as I continue reading them--it's the perfect thing to pick up before writing in the morning or going to bed at night. The mix of poets, topics, and time periods keeps things interesting in this one, plus Strand and Boland make great commentary on poetic forms and origins. I hate to pick favorites, but I really enjoyed Rudyard Kipling's "Sestina of the Tramp-Royal" and TS Eliot's "The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock." ...more
Mike Fowler
Nov 27, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
Brief summaries of the structure of various forms of poetry along with many examples of the form. Many of these poems were new to me and helped to reaffirm that personally I prefer the narrative form rather than riddles of metaphors. Interestingly several examples of each form are provided that do not strictly adhere to the form providing an interesting contrast.

Part II is dedicated to meter, but it is a mere 5 pages with no examples. This was frustrating to me as this is a crucial feature of th
Ray Zimmerman
Dec 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
A friend gave me a copy of this book after learning that I had written a few poems of the pantoum variety. The pantoum form is included in this book, along with highly structured forms such as villanelle, sonnet and rhyming couplets and less structured forms such as free verse and ballad. Since receiving this book I have experimented with several of these, including rhyming couplet. Very interesting and worthwhile read.
Robin Redden
Apr 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Excellent "Poetry Forms 101" book. I've been reading and studying poetry for a while and this was the foundation I was missing. It covers the Verse forms (Villanelle, Sestina, Pantoum, Sonnet, Ballad, Blank Verse, Heroic Couplet and Stanza), Meter (briefly), Shaping forms (Elegy, Pastoral, Ode) and finally the more contemporary Open forms. Lots of great examples in each area. Highly recommend as both an intro book and reference book. ...more
Brent Hightower
Oct 23, 2020 rated it it was ok
I was somewhat disappointed by this volume, something very unusual for me, when it comes to Norton. Their books set the standard for anthologies and criticism.

In this case, however, I felt the description of the contents and purpose of the book was was somewhat misleading, and what I though I was buying wasn't quite what I got. The book is more of an anthology than a work devoted to poetical forms, and though the selections are good I was already familiar with most of them.

Not the best book fo
Jonathan Giles
May 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Excellent anthology on the poetic form, from the villanelle to sestina to the sonnet to on and on to open forms. What an enlightening book and what a joy to read, with historical as well as contemporary poems showcasing the poetic forms. I highlighted my copy and tagged poems to which I want to return. All in all, a very satisfying book.
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Mark Strand was a Pulitzer Prize-winning American poet, essayist, and translator. He was appointed Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 1990. He was a professor of English at Columbia University and also taught at numerous other colleges and universities.

Strand also wrote children's books and art criticism, helped edit several poetry anthologies and translated Spanish p

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