An Exaltation of Forms: Contemporary Poets Celebrate the Diversity of Their Art / Edition 1

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At once handbook, reader, and guide to the literary tastes and wisdom of poets, An Exaltation of Forms is an indispensable resource certain to find a dedicated audience among poetry lovers. The editors invited over fifty contemporary poets to select a poetic meter, stanza, or form, describe it, recount its history, and provide favorite examples. The essays represent a remarkably diverse range of literary styles and approaches, and show how the forms of contemporary English-language poetry derive from a wealth of different traditions. The forms range from hendecasyllabics to prose poetry, haiku to procedural poetry, sonnets to blues, rap to fractal verse. The range of poets included is equally impressive—from Amiri Baraka to John Frederick Nims, from Maxine Kumin to Marilyn Hacker, from Agha Shahid Ali to Pat Mora, from W. D. Snodgrass to Charles Bernstein. Achieving this level of eclecticism is a remarkable feat, especially given the strong opinions held by members of the various camps (e.g., the New Formalists, LANGUAGE poets, feminist and multicultural poets) that exist within today's poetry community. Poets who might never occupy the same room here occupy the same pages, perhaps for the first time. The net effect is a book that will surprise, inform, and delight a wide range of readers, whether as reference book, pleasure reading, or classroom text. Poet, translator, and critic Annie Finch is director of the Stonecoast low-residency MFA program at the University of Southern Maine. She is author of The Ghost of Meter: Culture and Prosody in American Free Verse, Eve, and Calendars. She is the winner of the eleventh annual Robert Fitzgerald Prosody Award for scholars who have made a lasting contribution to the art and science of versification. Kathrine Varnes teaches English at the University of Missouri- Columbia. She is the author of the book of poems, The Paragon. Her poems and essays have appeared in many books and journals.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780472067251
  • Publisher: University of Michigan Press
  • Publication date: 2/20/2002
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 456
  • Sales rank: 624,824
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction 1
I Meters
Accentual Verse 15
Syllabics: Sweeter Melodies 24
Counted Verse: Upper Limit Music 32
Iambic Meter 39
Blank Verse 46
Anapestics 52
Running with Abandon: Some Notes on Trochaic Meter 59
Dactylic Meter: A Mary-Sounding Sea 66
Free Verse 73
All Composed in a Meter of Catullus: Hendecasyllabics 81
Pronouncing "Carpenter": Quantitative Meter in English 86
Off the Main Road: Some Maverick Meters 95
II Stanzas
"The Bravest Sort of Verses": The Heroic Couplet 107
The Self-Engendering Muse: Terza Rima 116
The Quatrain 122
Sapphics 132
Ottava Rima 141
Spenser's Eponymous 148
The Decima: A Poetic Journey from Spain to New Mexico 156
III Received Forms
The Folk Ballad 167
The Ballade: Exquisite Intricacy 180
The Blues 188
Taking Shape: The Art of Carmina Figurata 198
Gists, Piths, and Poison-Pills: The Art of the Epigram 206
Ghazal: To Be Teased into DisUnity 210
Haiku 217
Hip-Hop Rhyme Formations: Open Your Ears 223
Japanese-Style Linked Poems 228
Form Lite: Limericks and Clerihews 238
A Wand Made of Words: The Litany Poem 242
Musical Form and Formalist Poetry 247
The Pantoum's Postcolonial Pedigree 254
Strange Tales and Bitter Emergencies: A Few Notes on the Prose Poem 262
The Metrics of Rap 272
Rondeaux and Roundels 279
Sestina: The End Game 290
The Sonnet 297
Triolet: Trippingly on the Tongue 308
Gymnastics: The Villanelle 314
IV Principles for Formal Experimentation
Organic Form 325
Fractal Amplifications 334
Performance Poetry 341
Beyond Found Poetry 352
The List Poem 359
Procedural Poetry: The Intentions of Nonintention 366
Nude Formalism: A Sampler 379
Oulipian Poetry 385
Two American Verse Forms: The Cinquain and the Quatern 391
The Low Coup as a Contemporary Afro-American Verse Form 394
The Paradelle 396
Predetermined Avant-Garde Forms 400
Bibliography: Sources for Further Reading 413
Contributors 417
Acknowledgments 426
Index of Names 435
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  • Posted May 17, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    A great book for learning about poetry

    I use it as a textbook for my introduction to lyric poetry course & love it for its detailed & yet readable treatment of meter, as well as how easily one can use it as a guide to writing verse. Most essays include a selection of about 5 exemplary poems, eclectically chosen but illustrative of the principles in the essays. The essays *are* variable in quality, but most are really good. If you want to learn about how poetry works (as every aspiring poet ought), this is a great starter!

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