A comprehensive guide to writing or reading poetry, by “one of our most lucid and important critics” (American Academy of Arts and Letters).
Why does a great lyric poem ask to be reread, even after we know it by heart? In How Poems Get Made, acclaimed poet and critic James Longenbach answers this question by discussing a wide range of exemplary poems, from Shakespeare through Blake, Dickinson, and Moore, to a variety of poets making poems today. In each chapter of How Poems Get Made, Longenbach examines a specific aspect of the poetic medium—including Diction, Syntax, Rhythm, Echo, Figure, and Tone—and shows how a poet may manipulate these most basic elements to bring a poem to life.
About the Author
James Longenbach is the author of six books of poems—including Earthling, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award—and eight books of prose. His poems have appeared in The New Yorker, the Paris Review, the Nation, and elsewhere. The recipient of an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and a Guggenheim Fellowship, among other honors, he lives in Rochester, New York.
[Longenbach] proceeds like a good teacher through many of poetry's essential modes... With healthy quotes from poems that demonstrate the technical and metaphorical values he lauds, Longenbach creates a book that is not literary analysis, but an explanation of how poems work—which might just be enough to get people writing verse.
— The Millions
[An] admirable, accessible blend of criticism and how-to instruction... For poets at all levels and every poetry reader.
Imagine yourself in an ideal classroom under the spell of an ideal teacher of poetry. That’s what it’s like to keep company with James Longenbach in the pages of How Poems Get Made. Gentle, learned, free-spirited, wide-ranging in taste, Longenbach roams from Anglo-Saxon poetry through the Renaissance to poets reinventing the art in English in our day.
— Rosanna Warren