Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Poetry 101: From Shakespeare and Rupi Kaur to Iambic Pentameter and Blank Verse, Everything You Need to Know about Poetry

Rate this book
Become a poet and write poetry with ease with help from this clear and simple guide in the popular 101 series.

Poetry never goes out of style. An ancient writing form found in civilizations across the world, poetry continues to inform the way we write now, whether we realize it or not—especially in social media—with its focus on brevity and creating the greatest possible impact with the fewest words. Poetry 101 is your companion to the wonderful world of meter and rhyme, and walks you through the basics of poetry. From Shakespeare and Chaucer, to Maya Angelou and Rupi Kaur, you’ll explore the different styles and methods of writing, famous poets, and poetry movements and concepts—and even find inspiration for creating poems of your own.

Whether you are looking to better understand the poems you read, or you want to tap into your creative side to write your own, Poetry 101 gives you everything you need!

256 pages, Hardcover

First published September 1, 2018

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Susan Dalzell

1 book6 followers

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
41 (23%)
4 stars
60 (34%)
3 stars
62 (35%)
2 stars
10 (5%)
1 star
0 (0%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 34 reviews
Profile Image for Elinor.
158 reviews91 followers
November 23, 2021
Afraid I DNF-ed this one, so I really can't rate it fairly - it simply wasn't what I was looking for.

For the few chapters I did read, I felt it was more of a brief reference than a book meant to be read from cover to cover. I was hoping for subjects like scansion to be covered in more depth, but the breadth of the material covered here simply doesn't allow for that amount of detail.

If you're looking for an introductory reference on poetry this one may well be for you.
Profile Image for Bianca Socaciu.
19 reviews1 follower
July 30, 2022
As a novice in the world of poetry, it is really overwhelming the value Poetry 101 brought into my learning journey. There's still more to unfold and discover, but this was a really thorough introduction into old and new poets and poetry (focus is rather on the English one), inspiration and mastering their craft.
Profile Image for Rachel Jorquera .
366 reviews95 followers
November 22, 2018
This was a really interesting little "what-to-know" book. it is a good option if someone is wanting to know about poetry. It doesn't go super in depth but is nice for either a refresher or a jump into something you are not familiar with! I also liked how they went with classical poets all the way to contemporary and "now" poets. That was nice!
September 19, 2019
Highly recommended, this is a fantastic introduction into poetry, granted it does not included too many modern poets such as Amanda Lovelace which is the only reason why I have not given the book five stars. It provides an unique insight into the ancient poets such as the Illad and the Odyessy, the epics written by Homer plus an plethora more of modern historical poetry. It also highlights how to read a poem, deciphering and analysing poetry I.e. Stanzas, Meter, Rhythm and Feet.
Profile Image for Phi Beta Kappa Authors.
1,020 reviews262 followers
November 6, 2018
Susan Dalzell
ΦBK, College of Wooster, 1997

From the publisher: Become a poet and write poetry with ease with help from this clear and simple guide in the popular 101 series.

Poetry never goes out of style. An ancient writing form found in civilizations across the world, poetry continues to inform the way we write now, whether we realize it or not—especially in social media—with its focus on brevity and creating the greatest possible impact with the fewest words. Poetry 101 is your companion to the wonderful world of meter and rhyme, and walks you through the basics of poetry. From Shakespeare and Chaucer, to Maya Angelou and Rupi Kaur, you’ll explore the different styles and methods of writing, famous poets, and poetry movements and concepts—and even find inspiration for creating poems of your own.

Whether you are looking to better understand the poems you read, or you want to tap into your creative side to write your own, Poetry 101 gives you everything you need!
Profile Image for Christian.
Author 7 books36 followers
June 26, 2019
This was a thorough overview of poetry. I read this book to go over the basics of poetry, and i feel as if my goal was achieved. The author was fairly interesting.

I give this book four stars simply because it wasn’t as exciting as it could be, but that’s what anyone should expect when reading a more technical book.
Profile Image for Elizabeth Catherine.
53 reviews7 followers
August 19, 2019
Want to get into poetry but don’t know where to start? Well this is your book! Poetry 101 is more of a history of the worlds most notable poets, styles of poetry, topics, and even some tips on writing poetry. I’ve been writing for years but this book has given me some zest on who to read next and inspiration to write more.
Profile Image for Rodney Jones.
Author 2 books3 followers
March 27, 2019
I thought that this was a book that neatly fell into three distinct parts. I found the first (very short) part about poetics both interesting and instructive. However, having thrown a glance at the Greeks and Romans (by coincidence, I was re-reading Horace's 'Odes' in parallel with this book), we quickly moved on to the second more substantial section which was a history of poetry from Beowulf to the Victorians. The content here is fair enough; although I was familiar with most of the material it would clearly be useful to someone who isn't! The final part - which I must admit that I found somewhat tedious - rounds the work off with a further history from the Modernists to RAP and SLAM, with a heavy emphasis on contemporary American/American-based writers. I found this final part rather unbalanced. People that I had never heard of, and perhaps will not hear of again, appeared to get rather more space than Auden, Pound and Eliot, who everyone should be hearing about. Similarly the 'Beats' seemed to get little attention compared to their merit and importance - yes Ginsberg wrote 'Howl' but he wrote a lot more and surely Ferlinghetti (who is still publishing aged 100) merited as much (or more?) attention than some of the contemporary poets. One could also add Gregory Corso to the list of missed opportunities. And although I must confess to being English, there seemed to be something of a dearth of British poets after 1950.
Although I personally found a good deal to irritate me with the book I would not discourage others from reading it. It is well written and, as far as I can tell, factually accurate. For the person who wants a potted history/with biographies of poetry/poets it has much to recommend it.
Perhaps it would have been improved by a little more critical appreciation of the work of fewer poets. After all, winning a Pulitzer Prize does not preclude an author from writing bad verse, and I believe that that distinction between poetry and (mere) verse is not discussed in the book. TS Eliot who (some would say arguably - I would same unquestionably) wrote the greatest poem in the English language in the 20th Century (I speak, of course, of 'The Waste Land'), won a Nobel prize in 1948; but most people would agree that Ezra Pound removed a deal of bad verse from the drafts before it went to print.
Having discovered something of what RAP is, I will retreat to the safety of Horace and Wordsworth - not to mention Simon Armitage, Tony Harrison, Philip Larkin, Ian McMillan, Sophie Hannah, Paul Muldoon...
Profile Image for Elisha Jachetti.
200 reviews2 followers
November 21, 2018
POETRY 101 by Susan Dalzell is a comprehensive introduction to poetry written in the English language. The book takes us all the way back to the Anglo-Saxons and BEOWULF and brings us through every movement that has transpired since, including the social media poetry that is being produced today. Dalzell moves at a frenetic pace, giving us readers a quick taste of what shaped style and preferences over the years, highlighting not only key players in the poetry space, but also major themes and rhythmic choices.

At the beginning of the book, Dalzell explains “how to read a poem.” Having grown accustomed to the contemporary non-rhyming, prose-like poems, this section is incredibly helpful for me in understanding earlier work and how meter functions. Unfortunately, I don’t get to put my newfound knowledge to the test as Dalzell doesn’t use many examples. Perhaps including published poems is difficult for copyright reasons, but without them, I can only read about what a poem is intellectually. This trend, unfortunately, continues throughout the book, so though I conceptually understand what an elegy is, for example, I haven’t been exposed to one yet.

Dalzell also briefly touches on Ancient Greek and Roman poetry since it inspired the English language poems that came after. However, besides a passing mention of Haikus, she never addresses any other poems from other countries. While I’m sure there is enough material on other cultural poems for completely separate books, it would have been nice to have some idea of how English language poems fit into the global sphere.

With that being said, POETRY 101 does a great job at providing readers with the need-to-know basics. It is a wonderful entry point for anyone who has ever been interested in poetry or its history, especially during a time when poetry is in a resurgence. I appreciate how easy this guide is to read and I love getting to know some of the characters who shaped and influenced this art form. I would definitely recommend POETRY 101 to history lovers, artists, and English literature aficionados.

Review originally published on YA Books Central here: http://www.yabookscentral.com/yanonfi...
530 reviews52 followers
January 18, 2023
One of the tags is: "Become a poet and write poetry with ease with help from this clear and simple guide in the popular 101 series."

I wouldn't necessarily say that's true... This book is a great history course, from the classic poets to more contemporary, to how different movements, styles, and events like naturalism, slavery, war, and racism have shaped many poets and their work--it's super comprehensive!

But it's just a history book. It does not go indepth beyond defining some stylistic techniques. Where I had the conception that it put some poetry in there, free rein for the public (which could have been done given how far back the timeline goes), and then there would be some analysis, why things work, why things don't, there was none of that.

Instead, it mostly just went over different poets' personal lives and the contexts with which they created their work. And that's great if that's all you're looking for!

Here are some facts I learned that I found most interesting:

Ezra Pound
“he openly expressed sympathy for Mussolini’s fascists.”

Sylvia Plath(1932–1963)
“On February 11, 1963, at age thirty, Plath took her own life.”
She made breakfast for the kids then committed suicide. Then, her ex Ted Hughes who cheated on her, six years later, the woman he left Plath for, ALSO committed suicide AND infanticide of her and Hughes' 4-year-old daughter.

And "that's the BS we see on PoetTok"

Neoclassical Poets
“The graveyard poets were a group of eighteenth-century writers obsessed with death and grieving who wrote meditative, morbid poetry.”

If you're expecting this book to teach you how to write poetry, you may need to look somehere else. Basically, the most Dalzell does when conversing with readers and giving them a SkillShare How-To type of lesson is asking them "... [notice] where the rhythm feels off. Are there ways to make the language flow better? Are the line breaks working?”

(Sarcasm) Thank you, Dalzell... I will be sure to ask the line breaks if they're working.

All in all, great comprensive book on the history of poets and poetry! Perhaps if there is ever a future reprint or rebrand on it, maybe write a more honest synopsis/intention though.
Profile Image for Chris.
265 reviews22 followers
October 21, 2020
The book purports to offer "a crash course in poetry", sort of a cliff notes on the topic. It's a nice little book but has some questionable choices of emphasis. First, there isn't that much poetry in the book. Instead of looking a the poetry, we learn about the poet's personal lives, how many lovers they had, how long their children lived, where they died, etc. In that respect the title is deceptive.

There is a lot left out and sometimes the elevation of one poet over another--in terms of who merits their own chapter and who is relegated to a paragraph or footnote--seems questionable. John Milton, Alexander Pope, William Wordsworth, and Robert Browning do not merit chapters but Christopher Marlowe, Paul Dunbar, Elizabeth Browning, Billy Collins, and Rupi Kaur do. Marianne Moore has a chapter but Wallace Stevens and H.D. are just footnotes in Moore's chapter. Sylvia Plath gets a chapter, Dylan Thomas a paragraph. Rap and Slam get a chapter, Grandmaster Flash a sentence, Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen not even a mention. Sure I know these days we are all about breaking up the cannon and making space for women and marginalized groups, but in that case one should be careful to not leave your new enthusiast ignorant of the vastly greater historical importance of Milton, Shakespeare and Chaucer over Collins, Kaur, and Gluck. It would have been better to stick with chapter headings based on movements, eras, and topical themes for a book aiming to offer a crash course on poetry.

That said, I'd add that I enjoyed reading the book and it reminded me of some poets I haven't thought about in years and brought some newer ones to my attention. The book at the very least makes poetry and poets intriguing and might convince its readers to read more poetry by the interesting poets the book showcases.
Profile Image for Clive.
20 reviews
July 3, 2022
Unfortunately what the book claims on the cover (i.e. 'everything you need to know about poetry') is misleading. Sure in just 252 pages I didn't expect an in-depth study of poetry, but the book is biased towards British and American poetry, and contains precious little 'poetry' itself.
For a book about poetry I would have liked to see some actual poems. I read the book with my phone handy so I could search the internet for some of the poems mentioned and read them to make sense of what Susan Dalzell was writing about.
What this book does give are several brief biographies of a number of poets, many I knew, while some were unfamiliar to me. So the book has definitely peaked my interest to explore further.
Dalzell briefly outlines different styles of poetry and provides a crash course in the history of Western poetry.
However, as I live in Australia, I was disappointed that Australasian poets do not get a mention in this book. I'll admit, the likes of Les Murray or Banjo Paterson may not be as well known on the international poetry stage as Shakespeare, Keats or Emily Dickinson, but even non-English speaking poets such as Pablo Nerudu are absent from the pages of Dalzell's book.
I guess the book is an okay introduction to poetry, if readers are content with a narrow view of poetry. This readers though will definitely want to explore further afield.
Profile Image for Nora.
48 reviews13 followers
September 6, 2023
What this book is: a decent survey of the big names in Western poetry from the Greeks & Romans through today. It's aimed at complete beginners and does a good job of introducing a lot of different movements and poets, with just enough information on each of them so as to not be overwhelming.

What it's not: "Everything you need to know about poetry"; not much coverage of poetry traditions outside of Europe & the U.S., not really about how to construct or critically read poetry outside of a few very basic pointers.

To be fair, a book this small couldn't possibly include everything, and it's a good intro for what it is. I wish that the poems mentioned throughout the book were printed in the book - I know I can look most of them up online and read them easily, and it would make the book less pocket sized to include the writings, but who wants to do that when they could just be reading the book they already have in hand? You can't really get a full feel of poetry just talking about it. You need to read it for yourself.
Profile Image for Andy Hickman.
5,143 reviews39 followers
February 17, 2023
POETRY 101, by Susan Dalzell
I really appreciate this book for it’s broad sweeping brushstrokes of the poetry landscape. Inspirational whilst also daunting. The biographies and profiles of poets are treasures. Love this book. ****

• Percy Shelley wrote ‘Adonais’ for John Keats (1821). (p80)
• The Mid-Victorian Period (1851-1870): “The Church of England had lost its monolithic grip, splintering into factions ranging from evangelicals to High-Church traditionalists. A large proportion of Brits simply stopped attending church.” (p92)
• Emily Bronte profile is excellent. (p93)
• “Free Verse: Read the long verses that comprise Song of Solomon and the Psalms and you’ll quickly see the beauty of the language, even without rhyme and a strict meter.” (p110)
• Free Verse.. In America, early practitioners include Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson. … ‘spatial arrangement and typography’ are an aspect of it. (p111)
• “Sylvia Plath … dealt with her pain by furiously writing.” (p203)
Profile Image for Randhir.
324 reviews7 followers
December 16, 2021
It's a very good short course on understanding poetry and poets through the ages. I would like to warn the reader that she should have a good anthology at hand to look up the poets the Author refers to so that they can get a flavour of their poetry. I would like to warn that this book will give a basic understanding of poetry but to understand further intricacies, there may be a need to refer to other books. From the earliest poets to those of the twitter generation the Author has tried to cover them all. But as she mentions, she has perforce being made to miss some very good ones. What she hopes to achieve, and gives tips for that, is to develop a taste for poetry and creating it. I prefer a structured format but blank verse and even free verse is excellent in the hands of those who have a ear and feeling for rhythm and meter.
Profile Image for Troy Farlow.
178 reviews9 followers
November 8, 2018
An Excellent Overview of Poetry and Famous Poets.

At first and half-way through the book, I thought that the book could provide at least one poem per poet (two to four pages are dedicated to telling about x poet, then y poet, etc.). But at just over 250 pages, it would've been well over 400 pages if they had done that. So, I've made notes of probably 50 to 100 poems to look up and read...

....but the important part about this book is that it brought these 50 to 100 poems - and all these poets and their backgrounds, to my attention.

A great book for a primer on poetry!
6 reviews1 follower
August 20, 2020
Really good introduction to poetry.

The book does touch on the mechanics of poetry very early and very briefly. The rest of the pages are dedicated moreso to the history of poetry: famous poets, poetry movements, what inspirations and topics poets of certain eras were writing about. And honestly, I found this way more valuable. It really helped me re-contextualize all of the tedious "i spy a literary device" busy work from high school.
Profile Image for Jenny Thompson.
1,178 reviews35 followers
July 24, 2021
What you see is very much what you get. It's a good general overview of famous poets and poetic movements, but by its nature, this little book doesn't go into great detail about anything. Additionally, there is very little room for actual poetry. Even 'The Red Wheelbarrow' was described, but not included. I'd also note that this book pretty much entirely focuses on British, Irish, and American poetry - oh, and I think the Haiku gets about half a page.
Profile Image for Brooke.
378 reviews8 followers
January 4, 2023
Was hoping for something different, a more comprehensive book about techniques and craft. The majority of this book talks about specific poets and their lives, notable work, and styles. It’s an extremely basic overview that doesn’t really go into depth about anyone and has an extremely Eurocentric focus. I would only recommend this to people who know nothing or close to nothing about poetry and poets because otherwise this will be quite basic and boring.
Profile Image for Ernestasia Siahaan.
137 reviews11 followers
March 19, 2019
This is more of a history book on Western poetry, describing different eras and their respective famous poets. I wish there were more snippets of poems from the poets described though - just to quickly get a feel of the poet's style. For a book about poetry history, this book has very little poems inside.
Profile Image for Pamela.
546 reviews
September 26, 2019
This is exactly what the title claims, a nice little refresher course on the basics of poetry. While it doesn't provide actual poems it refers you to numerous works that you can follow up on your own. It covers some mechanics of poetry, specific poets, and schools of poetry. The format is nice too, an easy to carry compact volume.
Profile Image for Liz.
187 reviews
April 14, 2021
I read this in tandem with my middle-schooler son as part of his National Poetry Month poetry unit (we're pandemic homeschooling this year). I found it to be an excellent overview of the forms, terminology, history and evolution of poetry; as well as a fine introduction to famous and influential poets of each movement.
Profile Image for Maggie Gordon.
1,896 reviews139 followers
November 25, 2018
I wanted a quick review of the history of poetry, and this is a nice overview of the western canon! Obviously does not contain everything, but is a good launching off point to consider different eras and styles of work.
148 reviews1 follower
December 17, 2018
Its title says it all. It is a great review of the forms and terms of poetry in our literature and culture. It throws brief spotlights on familiar names, and explains the trends or innovations that developed into the poetic forms of the present day. Plus, it has a good index.
Profile Image for Siamak Attarian.
34 reviews
January 1, 2021
This is more of a short history of (English) poetry rather than poetry itself. On that front it is good. There are not many poems in this book or I better say you may find more poems in a random book you pick off your shelf than this book and I'm not kidding.
Profile Image for ☄.
360 reviews19 followers
June 13, 2019
a perfectly succinct introduction to poets, poems, and styles past + present - and everything in between :")
Profile Image for Jen Phillips.
14 reviews
September 4, 2020
😴🥱 boring. I picked this book up to help with the concept of poetry but I had hard time getting into it. Still learning how to write poetry but this book isn’t helping at all for me.
Profile Image for Paula.
98 reviews2 followers
April 28, 2021
Okay survey of well known poets and major poetic styles. Note that this is primarily focused on Western (or more specifically, mainly British and American poets, and predominantly Caucasian).
Displaying 1 - 30 of 34 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.