Literary reviews by Tim Love.
Warning: Rather than reviews, these are often notes in preparation for reviews that were never finished, or pleas for help with understanding pieces. See Litref Reviews - a rationale for details.

Tuesday, 10 June 2003

"The Making of a Poem" by Strand and Boland

This is subtitled 'a Norton anthology of poetic forms'. Elegy and Pastoral are considered as forms, with 'Ode on a Grecian Urn' in the Pastoral (rather than Ode) section. Strangely the authors regret that

  • they couldn't include more of their favorite poets (though these poets wrote unsuitable poems)
  • they couldn't choose more than one poem from any 20th century poet (though this rule was set by the editors themselves)

Why not just pick the best poems for the job rather than worry about who wrote the poems? As if their definition of form wasn't fuzzy enough they have a section on 'Open Forms', "intended to show that new ideas of poetic form often emerge in the process of negotiating the charged space between what is inherited and what is known" (p. xv). Scattered amongst such jargon are useful nuggets - "In America, where poetry developed at the same time as literacy, and where there was therefore less need for a division between the oral and written, the ballad became part of the vocabulary of the ordinary accomplishments of the American poet". No Bob Dylan, though many standards are in the anthology. The poems are ok, but for me the categorisation is too arbitrary and the introduction for each section too slight.

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