An Introduction to Poetry: The River Sings / Edition 1

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Overview

Breaking barriers and cultivating a lifelong love of poetry, this practical guide to reading poetry is set up to provide a background in analyzing poems, applying literary theory, forming opinions and offers approaches to discussing and writing about poetry. The volume teaches readers how a writer works so that they can feel more comfortable reading poems. The author examines survivalist poetics, how readers and writers work, literary criticism, how a poem is built; metaphor, symbol, and point of view, sound and the poem, shaping the currents of poetry, reading a poem, writers on writing, and provides poems for further reading. For those looking for an accessible introduction to poetry.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780130932921
  • Publisher: Longman
  • Publication date: 6/27/2003
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 144
  • Sales rank: 1,185,273
  • Product dimensions: 5.97 (w) x 9.07 (h) x 0.31 (d)

Meet the Author

Jeff Knorr is the author of two collections of poetry, STANDING UP TO THE DAY and WESTERN REACH. He is also the co-author of MOORING AGAINST THE TIDE: WRITING POETRY AND FICTION (Prentice Hall), the co-editor of A WRITERS COUNTRY (Prentice Hall), and the author of AN INTRODUCTION TO POETRY: THE RIVER SINGS (Prentice Hall). He was the founding co-editor and poetry editor of the Clackamas Review, Red Rock Review, and Oxford Magazine, as well as others. Jeff Knorr currently lives in California's central valley and teaches literature and writing at Sacramento City College.

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Read an Excerpt

When Prentice Hall Editor, Carrie Brandon first approached me about this book, we were sitting at a conference in Kansas City talking poetry, teaching, reading, and how we've both come to have a love for literature, language, and reading. The more we talked, the conversation drifted toward how that happened, from our parents reading to us when we were children to having teachers in our lives who made books, stories, and literature a real and powerful event. In the course of that conversation, we also talked about why so many people come out of their varied academic backgrounds with a love for reading fiction and non-fiction but not poetry. And, of course, there has been much written about this by poets like Billy Collins, Delmore Schwartz, and Julia Alvarez. And possibly Robert Pinsky's poetry project served to remedy this in some way. So, the intent of this book is to break the barrier—whatever that barrier is, as it might vary for each person—to unlock some secret inside poetry.

This book is set up to: provide a background in reading poetry, analyze poems, apply literary theory, form opinions, and offer approaches to discuss and write about poetry. But, it is also designed to teach students of poetry about how a writer works and that if we understand how a writer works we might, as a reader, feel more comfortable reading poems. So, the hope is to provide an academic experience and to cultivate a lifelong love of poetry, In his essay, "The Specialization of Poetry," Wendell Berry says that "poetry remains a specialized art, its range and influence so constricted that poets have very nearly become their own audience." With hope, there is a selection of poetry here that speaks to the reader and says poetry is not constricted. And my hope is that the approach to reading poetry—for academic assignments, analysis, or leisure—is one which allows for poetry to be viewed as some-thing other than a specialized art form that is only comprehensible to poets, critics, and studied academics.

As poets, should we withdraw from responsibility all that is not comprehended in our work? Most definitely not; hence, poets ought to move toward a writing, which offers the public a view of themselves and their histories, straddling the line between accessible and challenging. Asserting at this lack of responsibility has taken place in some instances, this book seeks to offer a palette of poets and approaches to reading poems that not only offers the public as subject but hopes for it to be the welcome and comfortable audience of the art. However, do not let that statement be taken as a "sit back in your easy chair and read on, Dear Reader" comment. Rather, put on your running shoes and get ready to chase the dog.

One problem, which seems to exist in many introduction to literature survey courses, or an introduction to poetry course, is that students are not only confused by poetry, but they're uncomfortable reading it aloud—no one has spent time offering them tips on reading it but has only read it to them. Literally, students often do not know how to make it come out of their mouths. Hence, in the chapter on reading a poem, "From Page to Mouth to Ear" students have some tips on getting a poem off the page and comfortably, confidently reading. What's more, for you students, during the writing of this book I had a constant companion of a composite college student. Sometimes it was a young man and sometimes a young woman. And I had a fine "standard" composite college apartment. And it was from that apartment that I wrote with this student talking to me, looking over my shoulder and directing me. For this, I hope you find the book conversational, interesting, and different than you've encountered before. The River Sings is intended to be a practical guide to reading poetry. This book will help instructors illustrate that there are no secret handshakes; that poetry is not a conspiracy against the reader; and that in fact students can enjoy and be comfortable within poetic language.

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Table of Contents

1. Survivalist Poetics.

Green Chile, Jimmy Santiago Baca. Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy's Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota, James Wright.

2. How Readers Work, How Writers Work.

Oranges, Gary Soto. Cups of Jade, Huang Pien. Axe Handles, Gary Snyder. March Walk, Jim Harrison.

3. Literary Criticism: Critical Approaches to Meeting a Poem.

Marks, Linda Pastan. What Work Is, Philip Levine. Blink Your Eyes, Sekou Sundiata. Poems for the Young White Man . . ., Lorna Dee Cervantes.

4. How a Poem Is Built; Metaphor, Symbol, and Point of View.

Harlem (A Dream Deferred), Langston Hughes. a woman is not a potted plant, Alice Walker. Traveling Through the Dark, William Stafford. Those Winter Sundays, Robert Hayden.

5. Sound and the Poem: Can You Hear It?

Woodchucks, Maxine Kumin. The Crabs, Richmond Lattimore. My Papa's Waltz, Theodore Roethke.

6. Fixed Forms: Shaping the Currents of Poetry.

From Ten Sonnets, Sir Thomas Wyatt. The Funeral, Donald Hall. One Art, Elizabeth Bishop. From Narrow Road to the Interior (two haiku Matsuo Basho. School's Ugliest Girl Dies, Albert Garcia.

7. Reading a Poem: From Page to Mouth to Ear.

Homage to My Hips, Lucille Clifton. No Longer Mourn for Me, William Shakespeare. A Poem for “Magic,” Guincy Troupe.

8. Writers on Writing: Some Thoughts about Poetry.

9. Poems for Further Reading.

Snow-Flakes, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The Passionate Shepherd to His Love, Christopher Marlowe. The Pasture, Robert Frost. Birches, Robert Frost. Because I Could Not Stop for Death, Emily Dickinson. I Think I Could Turn and Live with Animals, Walt Whitman. Man and Dog on an Early Winter Morning, Carl Sandburg. Killers, Carl Sandburg. A Woman, Gabriela Mistral. Time Does Not Bring Relief; You All Have Lied, Edna St. Vincent Millay. Sonnet 14 If thou must love me . . ., Elizabeth Barrett Browning. In Which She Satisfies a Fear with the Rhetoric of Tears, Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz. Manley Hot Springs, Alaska, 1975, Lisa Chavez. Daystar, Rita Dove. Crossing the Water, Sylvia Plath. The Colonel, Carolyn Forche. The Movies, Florence Kiper Frank. Vandal's Moon, Virgil Suarez. Remember, Joy Harjo. Uncertain Admission, Frances Bazil. Spring and All, William Carlos Williams. A Blessing, James Wright. Song, Laetetia Elizabeth Landon. The Dreaming Child, Felicia Dorothea Hemans. To the Nightingale, Anne Finch, Countess of Winchilsea. To Tranquility, Charlotte Smith. Evening, Charlotte Smith. Verses Written in a Garden, Lady Mary Wortley Montague. Annabel Lee, Edgar Allen Poe. To My Dear and Loving Husband, Anne Bradstreet. Sonnet 29: When in Disgrace with Fortune and Men's Eyes, William Shakespeare. On Being Brought From Africa to America, Phillis Wheatley. Sonnets from the Portuguese: Number 43, Elizabeth Barrett Browning. She's Free, Frances E. Harper. The Poplar Field, William Cowper. Dover Beach, Matthew Arnold. A Psalm of Life, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Ozymandias, Percy Bysshe Shelley. Mide Songs, Frances Densmore. My Love Has Departed, Love Song, Song on Applying War Paint, Song After Battle, Frances Densmore. Yuman and Yaqui Songs, Frances Densmore. The City Dead House, Walt Whitman. The Fiddler of Dooney, W. B. Yeats. The Tavern, Edwin Arlington Robinson, A Deposition from Love, Thomas Carew. The Song of the Foot-Track, Elsie Cole. Cradle Song, Louise Esson. Homesick, Dorothy Frances McCrae. The New Life, Witter Bynner. A Winter Ride, Amy Lowell.

Credits.

Glossary.

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Preface

When Prentice Hall Editor, Carrie Brandon first approached me about this book, we were sitting at a conference in Kansas City talking poetry, teaching, reading, and how we've both come to have a love for literature, language, and reading. The more we talked, the conversation drifted toward how that happened, from our parents reading to us when we were children to having teachers in our lives who made books, stories, and literature a real and powerful event. In the course of that conversation, we also talked about why so many people come out of their varied academic backgrounds with a love for reading fiction and non-fiction but not poetry. And, of course, there has been much written about this by poets like Billy Collins, Delmore Schwartz, and Julia Alvarez. And possibly Robert Pinsky's poetry project served to remedy this in some way. So, the intent of this book is to break the barrier—whatever that barrier is, as it might vary for each person—to unlock some secret inside poetry.

This book is set up to: provide a background in reading poetry, analyze poems, apply literary theory, form opinions, and offer approaches to discuss and write about poetry. But, it is also designed to teach students of poetry about how a writer works and that if we understand how a writer works we might, as a reader, feel more comfortable reading poems. So, the hope is to provide an academic experience and to cultivate a lifelong love of poetry, In his essay, "The Specialization of Poetry," Wendell Berry says that "poetry remains a specialized art, its range and influence so constricted that poets have very nearly become their own audience." With hope, there is a selection of poetry here that speaks to the reader and says poetry is not constricted. And my hope is that the approach to reading poetry—for academic assignments, analysis, or leisure—is one which allows for poetry to be viewed as some-thing other than a specialized art form that is only comprehensible to poets, critics, and studied academics.

As poets, should we withdraw from responsibility all that is not comprehended in our work? Most definitely not; hence, poets ought to move toward a writing, which offers the public a view of themselves and their histories, straddling the line between accessible and challenging. Asserting at this lack of responsibility has taken place in some instances, this book seeks to offer a palette of poets and approaches to reading poems that not only offers the public as subject but hopes for it to be the welcome and comfortable audience of the art. However, do not let that statement be taken as a "sit back in your easy chair and read on, Dear Reader" comment. Rather, put on your running shoes and get ready to chase the dog.

One problem, which seems to exist in many introduction to literature survey courses, or an introduction to poetry course, is that students are not only confused by poetry, but they're uncomfortable reading it aloud—no one has spent time offering them tips on reading it but has only read it to them. Literally, students often do not know how to make it come out of their mouths. Hence, in the chapter on reading a poem, "From Page to Mouth to Ear" students have some tips on getting a poem off the page and comfortably, confidently reading. What's more, for you students, during the writing of this book I had a constant companion of a composite college student. Sometimes it was a young man and sometimes a young woman. And I had a fine "standard" composite college apartment. And it was from that apartment that I wrote with this student talking to me, looking over my shoulder and directing me. For this, I hope you find the book conversational, interesting, and different than you've encountered before. The River Sings is intended to be a practical guide to reading poetry. This book will help instructors illustrate that there are no secret handshakes; that poetry is not a conspiracy against the reader; and that in fact students can enjoy and be comfortable within poetic language.

Read More Show Less

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