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

really liked it 4.0  ·  Rating details ·  1,707 Ratings  ·  85 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
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Paperback, 400 pages
Published April 17th 2001 by W. W. Norton Company (first published 2000)
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Jake
Jul 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
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
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Brendan
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
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Rebecca
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.
Ed
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.
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
Joe
Jan 07, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry, research-misc
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
Molly
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.
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.
Joel
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!
Mozart
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!
Marcie
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.
Ryan
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.
Lynda
May 16, 2009 rated it liked it
I will never be a poet and I know it.
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
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.
Jonathan Giles
May 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
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.
Rifat Islam
Dec 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Great anthology of different poetic forms. Highly recommend!
Daudi Mlengela
Jun 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
I like this book as it has taught me how to write Sestina and phantom poems. The book gives description of any kind of poems and their examples from different writers as well.
Xavi
Feb 16, 2018 rated it liked it
Simple. Simple wording, simple phrasing, simple ideas. But nice.
Abigail
Oct 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Good overall. Misleading title. Fairly narrow range of emotion in selected pieces.
Debra Manskey
Mar 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was my textbook for uni last semester and I must say it was one of the most interesting books I've had. Despite the fact it was for study, this is something I know I will dip into again and again over the years.
Joseph Ozias
Nov 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Wonderful collection of poetry with helpful ways of understanding specific modes.
Parrish Lantern
In the introductory statement the writers say this book is intended to answer those basic questions such as how does a sonnet work, what is a Sestina & what rules govern it, how many lines make up a Villanelle & what is it’s rhyme scheme? To do this they have traced the history of the various forms, in many cases back to the peasant origins and work songs of the countryside or the Balladeers who sung stories, spun the tales & spread the news through their communities and out to a wid ...more
Leif
Dec 04, 2013 rated it liked it
Boland and Strand should have been able to do better. The selections are at times shaky (no Spenserian sonnets?) and at times revelatory, but the editorial apparatus is slight and the technical descriptions need supplemenation. We're not talking about an The New Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics-level erudition required, but this book runs the risk of speaking just enough to seem like they're saying nothing at all. A good model would be the Poems for the Millennium, Vol. 1: Modern and ...more
Rob
Sep 02, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2016
It sort of feels like Strand ran out of steam as this anthology neared its final sections. In the beginning, Strand would identify a poetic form, explain the historical and contemporary contexts, provide some well-selected examples of each form, and then supply an 'up-close' reading of one poem. When part two arrived, Strand wrote about meter, but did not provide any examples, or much help at all. The entire section on meter was two pages long. Must find another book on meter, I suppose. The thi ...more
Ava k.o. Johnson
Sep 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Diverse selection of poets, periods, and forms, ranging from the conventional to the experimental, the measured to the expansive, the classical to the contemporary, the well-known to the obscure. This was one of the first collections of poetry I ever fell in love with, but the analysis and history of the forms therein never goes far beyond basic, cursory explanations. It's a great introduction for those who know next to nothing about poetry and want to learn more. But for those who have been aro ...more
Jessica
May 08, 2013 rated it liked it
I was disappointed with some features (more appropriately, the lack thereof) of this anthology. Strand and Boland's introductions proved vaguely useful and blatantly sloppy, offering neither strong exposition, nor commentary on each form. In presentation, too, the volume begs improvement. I was surprised that the poems weren't dated, and considered breaking works across pages unnecessary in a collection this size. Really, I could only (largely) appreciate the poetry compiled, and the basics and ...more
Leland
Jan 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writing, poetry
This is an excellent book on poetic form. Very readable, but destined to find a place on my writing reference shelf. Each section deals with a particular form (Villanelle, Sestina, Sonnets, etc.) and has a concise description of the form, a short history, and a solid selection of examples. The poems try to reflect the traditional form as well as contemporary examples. In doing this, the authors have tried to demonstrate both strict, traditional forms and some less strict variations.

Overall, a fa
...more
aswin
May 28, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
This works perfectly fine as an anthology but the criticism offered by the authors is somewhat of a hit and miss. If you have long deferred looking at structured poetry because your first encounter with it made it sound all very rules-y, this anthology will help you change that viewpoint by making it clear that the poetic form is as much a mood setting factor as the actual words. The best argument for this is in the many wonderful poems collected under each chapter. Personal favs so far include ...more
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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 Italian p
...more
More about Mark Strand...

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