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The Art of Poetry Blog

A personal, informal, currently embryonic but ever-growing rec list (or, if you prefer, annotated bibliography) of books, articles, and online resources for mastering the art of poetry, with a focus on works by poets, scholars, philosophers, and critics, including the ancient, the recent, the brilliant, and the obscure. Topics will include prosody, rhetoric, genre, structure, literary aesthetics, poetic inspiration, and such related topics in poetics as sound, diction, lineation, subjects, titles, forms, narration, and lyric address.


To read the origin story of this blog, scroll down a bit. To enter the blog itself, mash the button below.

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The Origin Story of this Blog

When I was in graduate school, studying to be a poet, "reading theory" meant reading French postmodern philosophy: Foucault, Derrida, Deleuze, Baudrillard, Kristeva, Irigaray, that sort of thing. In our creative writing workshops, I and my fellow students read the poetry of our professors' generations (American and, for reasons I will explain in a moment, Polish), and of course the early efforts of our peers. In our literature classes we read selections from the English and American literary canon, along with what were regarded as the standard critical responses to that canon (though I do recall with great affection taking a course in Modern European Poetry in English translation, taught by Edward Hirsch). What we didn't read was anything about the actual technique of writing poetry (or fiction, or nonfiction, or drama). Once it dawned on me that nothing of the sort would be on offer, I decided to create a course of my own, an independent study with a motley syllabus of books on poetic technique, assembled by browsing the stacks in bookstores and libraries. It was not a bad reading list, considering how little I knew, though today I would choose a rather different constellation. Nevertheless, that little independent study, supplemented by the reading I have done in the intervening years, is the basis, the origin, of this blog.

In an essay charmingly titled "Young Poets, Please Read Everything," the late Polish poet Adam Zagajewski (the professor, as it happens, whose assigned Polish readings I alluded to above), wrote the following: "The American poets I know are very well read and yet I see clearly that they have acquired their knowledge in the interval between graduating and entering the zone of middle age. Most American graduate students know rather little, less than their European counterparts, but many of them will make up for this in the years to come." It is to assist those poets, hungry perhaps for knowledge of those aspects of their art that they didn't learn about (or aren't learning about) in graduate (or undergraduate) school, that I have undertaken this set of recommended readings. May it help them, as it has me.