Poet Miller Williams, who has been described as "the Hank Williams of poetry," here sets out a list of the formal prosodic structures of poetry as established by centuries of tradition. Not satisfied limiting himself to a few popular forms like sonnets and villanalles (as Boland and Strand did), Williams delves into obscure Celtic, Asian, and Middle-Eastern forms, as well as humorous forms, forgotten European forms, and even nonce forms.
The book is broken into seven chapters dividing forms according to stanza structure, set-length structure, open-ended length forms, and variations. Within the chapters, the forms are organized according to length rather than alphabetically, perhaps making this book slightly more useful to critics than to poets. And the slim number of examples within each entry could have you racing to the library to find out more about how the forms are actually used than Williams can demonstrate.
This book is NOT about the creative process of poetry; for that, try out Susan Goldsmith Woolridge's Poemcrazy or Brenda Ueland's If You Want to Write. Rather, this book shows you the prosodic structures poets have used through history. There is also useful content on how to read the prosody for formal significance and on the importance of the line. Highly lucid, if perhaps a bit short, this book is highly recommended, both for creative writing students and for budding poetry critics, to comprehend more and better the forms that make up the poetic tradition.