BN.com Gift Guide

Villanelles

Overview

The first of its kind—a comprehensive collection of the best of the villanelle, a delightful poetic form whose popularity ranks only behind that of the sonnet and the haiku.
 
With its intricate rhyme scheme and dance-like pattern of repeating lines, its marriage of recurrence and surprise, the villanelle is a form that has fascinated poets since its introduction almost two centuries ago. Many well-known poets in the past have tried their ...

See more details below
Hardcover
$12.47
BN.com price
(Save 16%)$14.95 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (17) from $6.27   
  • New (12) from $6.27   
  • Used (5) from $8.31   
Sending request ...

Overview

The first of its kind—a comprehensive collection of the best of the villanelle, a delightful poetic form whose popularity ranks only behind that of the sonnet and the haiku.
 
With its intricate rhyme scheme and dance-like pattern of repeating lines, its marriage of recurrence and surprise, the villanelle is a form that has fascinated poets since its introduction almost two centuries ago. Many well-known poets in the past have tried their hands at the villanelle, and the form is enjoying a revival among poets writing today. The poems collected here range from the classic villanelles of the nineteenth century to such famous and memorable examples as Dylan Thomas's "Do not go gentle into that good night," Elizabeth Bishop's "One Art," and Sylvia Plath's "Mad Girl's Love Song." Here too are the cutting-edge works of contemporary poets, including Sherman Alexie, Lorna Dee Cervantes, Rita Dove, Seamus Heaney, Paul Muldoon, and many others whose poems demonstrate the dazzling variety that can be found within the parameters of a single, strict form.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307957863
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 3/6/2012
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 680,357
  • Product dimensions: 4.37 (w) x 6.48 (h) x 0.72 (d)

Meet the Author

ANNIE FINCH is the author of fifteen books of poetry, translation, and criticism. Her collaborations merging poetry with music, visual art, and theater have been produced at Carnegie Hall and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She has a PhD from Stanford and directs the Stonecoast MFA program in creative writing at the University of Southern Maine.
 
MARIE-ELIZABETH MALI Marie-Elizabeth Mali is the author of Steady, My Gaze (2011) and serves as co-curator for the Page Meets Stage reading series in New York City.

Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

Preface: Dancing with the Villanelles

The villanelle is one of the most fascinating and paradoxical of poetic forms, quirky and edgy yet second to no other European form but the sonnet in importance; prone to moods of obsession and delight; structured through the marriage of repetition and surprise. No wonder it is currently enjoying such a powerful postmodern blossoming, out of long-growing premodernist roots. This book includes a sampling of some of the most interesting and significant villanelles written in English before the twenty-first century, as well as a great range of superb contemporary villanelles by a remarkable diversity of poets.
 
This book is likely the most comprehensive anthology devoted to a single poetic form ever assembled; because of the villanelle’s relatively brief history, it offers an unparalleled opportunity to understand how poetic forms grow, as individual poets change a poem’s shape, play with its constraints, dance with its tradition, and challenge its readers anew. The manageable focus of the form is one reason editing this book has been such a joy. Another reason is our partnership: one of us devoted to form, the other closely linked to performance, we have pooled our talents and insights with a mutual delight in which we hope our readers will share.
 
A glance through the book will show that it abounds with gems. Most poets write only one or two villanelles in a lifetime, and when they do so, it’s for a good reason. This is not a form that is chosen lightly. Furthermore, it’s a hard form to fake; as editors we found it quite straightforward to choose the strongest villanelles. And the villanelle has appealed to such a delicious variety of poets, from slam poets to the avant-garde and everyone in between, that readers will find this a book filled with diversity and surprises, while the quality of poetry remains remarkably and consistently high.
 
This book includes lyrical, spiritual, political, erotic, comical, narrative, whimsical, loving, and metaphysical villanelles. They all share a quality of freshness, an air of discovery that befits a form with a relatively short history. Unlike the sonnet the villanelle has no centuries of courtly performance behind it; it is a democratic form, with origins in communal country dance. Perhaps that’s one reason it appeals to contemporary poets from such a wide range of backgrounds and aesthetics. With repetitions crying out for dramatic emphasis and contrast, villanelles lend themselves to performance; it’s no coincidence that co-editor Marie-Elizabeth Mali has deep connections with the world of ‘‘off the page’’ poetry. But as this book manifests, many experimental poets and narrative free-verse poets have been writing villanelles as well.
 
In fact, the importance of the villanelle has been sneaking up on the poetry world for decades. All the while some were humoring this adamantly artificial form as a bauble or curiosity, poets from all of poetry’s corners have laid aside mid-twentieth-century prejudices against ‘‘artifice’’ and jumped in to the dance. They have brought the villanelle to critical mass, making this book a necessity. And, in the process, they have done much to birth an era of poetics where patterned and freeform poems are beginning to flourish together. The self-contained, grounded sonnet could never have achieved such an evolution for poetic form; it’s the villanelle’s spiraling momentum, its constantly evolving trajectory, that spins it off the page and into so many and new permutations.
 
The key to a good villanelle is to come up with two lines that are genuinely attracted to each other but also wholly independent of each other, so that their final coupling will feel both inevitable and surprising. With its roots in dance, a good villanelle is like a good romantic relationship. The two lines that structure it are dying to get together; there is a period of suspense before they do get together; and in the meantime, a changing context provides a series of new discoveries about the lines each time they appear. The form keeps the lines close but apart through six stanzas of mounting tension until they join in the last two lines of the poem. With such demands, it is no wonder that good villanelles in English are quite rare. This book demonstrates that they are also unforgettable.
 
Villanelles is organized into four sections. ‘‘The Villanelle Tradition’’ is arranged chronologically to give the reader a sense of the slow initial development of the form. ‘‘Contemporary Villanelles’’ uses alphabetical order to organize the great burst of recent poets of all backgrounds and aesthetics who have written superb villanelles. ‘‘Villanelles About Villanelles’’ is self-explanatory, while ‘‘Variations on the Villanelle’’ opens a door to the many possible permutations of this fascinating form.
 
Paul Oppenheimer writes that the sonnet, developed by a twelfth-century lawyer out of a folk song form, helped nurture the modern idea of the isolated, three-dimensional and self-sufficient self. What might it mean about the twenty-first century idea of self that we are so increasingly captivated by the villanelle? Based in communal dance rather than individual song, spiraling back repeatedly to the same refrains, often moving from obsession to acceptance through the simple movements of repetition, perhaps the villanelle teaches us something about sharing and returning, integrating, and learning to let go: good lessons for our time. You now hold in your hands the definitive collection of poems in this compelling and addictive form. Enjoy the dance!
 
Annie Finch

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)