Book Review: "The Making of a Poem" (Norton Anthology)

May 19, 2008

Take this one slowly. It’s a whole world of information. I read one chapter at a time, diagramming out the poetic forms, trying to decode meter. Learning a ferocious amount. This is a great springboard from which I hope to bounce into learning more about the specific poets and ages of poetry.

Each section describes the rules and history of a type of poem (e.g. pantoum, sonnet) and then gives many examples. While the initial explanation is very helpful, I find myself wishing there were more analysis of each poem–but I suppose this book cannot be all things at once.

Also useful is the appendix of brief biographies about each represented poet. The context of the book tends to lean towards drawing a background for modern works, but classic poems are also strongly represented.

I still feel profoundly undereducated in verse, but I have taken one large step towards enlightenment with this book.



  1. Chris says:

    Cool. I’ve been reading nothing but poetry the past month because I find it calming.

  2. [...] The Making of a Poem (Norton Anthology) — Chock full of information about how poems work: forms, meters and terminology. I’ll need to read it a few more times before it all sinks in. My review. [...]

  3. Oh, I love navigating around your new site, Lyza! It's gorgeous. And what a joy discovering stuff like this, which must have been here before but I didn't know… This one, the Making of a Poem? I worked through this fall while working through the forms, playing with sonnets and sestinas, pantoums and villanelles, and then in December I read Nicholson Baker's Anthologist and it was the perfect answer to less playful approaches to poetry. Completely recommend it.

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