Discovery of Poetry: A Field Guide to Reading and Writing Poems

Paperback | November 9, 2001

byFrances Mayes

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The bestselling author of Under the Tuscan Sun brings poetryout of the classroom and into the homes of everyday readers.Before she fell in love with Tuscany, Frances Mayes fell in love with verse. After publishing five books of poetry and teaching creative writing for more than twenty-five years, Mayes is no stranger to the subject. In The Discovery of Poetry, an accessible field guide" to reading and writing poetry, she shares her passion with readers. Beginning with basic terminology and techniques, from texture and sound to rhyme and repetition, Mayes shows how focusing on one aspect of a poem can help you to better understand, appreciate, and enjoy the reading and writing experience. In addition to many creative and helpful composition ideas, following each lyrical and lively discussion is a thoughtful selection of poems. With its wonderful anthology from Shakespeare to Jamaica Kinkaid, The Discovery of Poetry is an insightful, invaluable guide to what Mayes calls "the natural pleasures of language-a happiness we were born to have." "

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From the Publisher

The bestselling author of Under the Tuscan Sun brings poetryout of the classroom and into the homes of everyday readers.Before she fell in love with Tuscany, Frances Mayes fell in love with verse. After publishing five books of poetry and teaching creative writing for more than twenty-five years, Mayes is no stranger to the subject. In...

Frances Mayes is the author of the best-selling Under the Tucsan Sun and Bella Tuscany. She and her husband divide their time between their homes in San Rafael, California, and Cortona, Italy.

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Format:PaperbackPublished:November 9, 2001Publisher:Houghton Mifflin HarcourtLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0156007622

ISBN - 13:9780156007627

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Extra Content

Read from the Book

Sources and ApproachesIf I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry.-emily dickinsonThe Origin of a PoemWhat motivates a poet to write? When Emily Dickinson said about her art, "My business is circumference," she was talking about her desire to explore experience by drawing it into a circle of her own, a world. Similarly, Wallace Stevens wanted each poem to give "a sense of the world." D. H. Lawrence thought the essence of good poetry was "stark directness." Telling or uncovering truth is the prime motive of poets like Muriel Rukeyser, who once asked, "What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? / The world would split open." William Wordsworth valued "the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings." When William Carlos Williams called a poem "a machine made of words," he simply meant to say that the best-formed poems function smoothly, with oiled and well-fitted parts, not far from Samuel Taylor Coleridge's ideal, "The best words in the best order."Many poets aspire to reach "the condition of music"-some aim for the heavenly music of the spheres, while others want the words to "boogie." William Butler Yeats thought, "We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, but of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry." His writing emerged from the internal fault line between conflicting thoughts and emotions. Yeats's desire to understand his human condition echoes Walt Whitman, who wanted the reader to "stand by my side and look in the mirror with me." For Matthew Arnold the impulse was external, not internal. His poetry came from "actions, human actions; possessing an inherent interest in themselves, and which are to be communicated in an interesting manner by the art of the poet." Some pull of inner necessity draws the poet to the page, whether to explore a problem, pursue a rhythm, break apart logic, express an emotion, tell a story, or simply to sing. When asked the familiar question, "Why do you write?", writers often answer, "Because I have to," (though prose writer Flannery O'Connor replied, "Because I'm good at it."). The impetus of having to, for the reasons named above, gives poetry its fire and urgency.Because of all these diverse sources, no one ever has come up with a satisfactory definition of poetry, just as no one can define music or art. Those who want to proclaim what is or isn't poetry have thankless work cut out for themselves. No umbrella is wide enough to cover the myriad versions, subjects, and forms. If a poem interests you, better to just go along with Walt Whitman's assertion, "...what I assume you shall assume, / For every atom belonging to me, as good belongs to you." Reasons for reading and for writing seem almost as numerous as atoms.Sometimes poets write to recreate an experience.A Blessing(James Wright, 1927-1980)Just off the highway to Rochester, Minnesota,Twilight bounds softly forth on the grass.And the eyes of those two Indian poniesDarken with k

Table of Contents

ContentsInvitation1. Sources and ApproachesThe Origin of a PoemThe Art of ReadingPoems2. Words: Texture and SoundTexture of LanguageChoosing WordsThe Muscle of LanguageSound PatternsThe Surprise of LanguageThe Kinship of WordsPoems3. Images: The Perceptual FieldThree Image PoemsImages and PerceptionLiteral ImagesPoemsFigurative ImagesSymbolsPoems4. The Speaker: The Eye of the PoemThe Invented "I"The Personal "I" SpeakerThe Public VoiceThe Invisible SpeakerPoems5. Rhyme and RepetitionRhymePoemsRepetitionPoems6. Meter: The Measured FlowWhat Is Meter?ScansionIambic PentameterMore Key MetersTwo Other Metrical OptionsRhythm and MeaningPoems7. Free VerseThe Genesis of Free VerseThe Free Verse Craft of the LineVoiceFree Verse, the Tradition and BeyondPoems 8. Traditional and Open FormsLooking at FormsTraditional FormsPoemsOpen FormsProse PoemsOpen Forms Poems 9. Subject and StyleTypes of PoemsStylePoems on Four SubjectsPoems10. Interpretation: The Wide ResponseWhat Is Meaning?Gaps and HolesPower SourcesCritical DiscriminationsPoems11. A Poet's HandbookInvoking Your MuseBeginning with a White PageSuggestions for Writing and RevisingExercisesYour Poems out the DoorIndex of TitlesIndex of Authors and TitlesIndex of Terms and Topics

Editorial Reviews

PRAISE FOR UNDER THE TUSCAN SUN AND BELLA TUSCANYMayes displays a gift for conveying everyday life through her writing. . . . [She] presents a simpler, less frantic version of how to live one's life.-USA TodayFrances Mayes is, before all else, a wonderful writer."-Chicago TribuneSomehow, this is a narrative at once joyful and full of common sense,a balance that few other writers have struck so perfectly. It's as intimate asa lover's whisper, honest and true, and vividly captures a sense of place."-San Francisco Chronicle "