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Patterns of Poetry: An Encyclopedia of Forms [Paperback]

Miller Williams
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent second reference book Sept. 13 2000
Format:Paperback
It must be frustrating for an author such as Williams to have written a very good and useful book, only to have another author (Lewis Turco) become the standard reference. After you own Turco, then you should pick up Williams. Williams uses the traditional marks for meter; an advantage for some readers - others will find it less intuitive than Turco's notation.
What Williams provides that Turco does not is more information on the current use of the form. His introductory elements of poetic forms is short and limited to the topic at hand - poetic forms. His arrangement of forms provides a more useful structure to learn and understand forms; while Turco gives the forms in alphabetic order, Williams provides the following organization (in chapters): 1) fully defined traditional stanza patterns 2) Loosly defined traditional stanza patterns 3) Traditional poems of set length 4) Traditional froms of indefinite length 5) Nonspecific forms and formal elements 6) Variations on the stanzas 7) Variations on the poems
His appendices have fascinating material relating structural linguistics to prosody, some observations on line breaks and a glossary of terms.
In a classroom setting where teaching the forms as a basis for literary critique, I would reach first for Williams. For writing poetry in forms, I would reach first for Turco. The best solution is, obviously, to own both.
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5.0 out of 5 stars great book of forms May 29 2002
Format:Paperback
Turco's Book of Forms has pretty much become the standard encyclopedia of poetic forms. And for good reason. But you shouldn't overlook Williams' Patterns of Poetry which is just as good, and in some way superior. It's well written and Williams chooses great example poems, and he divides the book seven sections, three appendices, and a glossary, which makes the book very accessible for the reader. While I would never say not to get Turco's book, I do think that you should also add Patterns of Poetry to your library.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent second reference book Sept. 13 2000
By M. J. Smith - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
It must be frustrating for an author such as Williams to have written a very good and useful book, only to have another author (Lewis Turco) become the standard reference. After you own Turco, then you should pick up Williams. Williams uses the traditional marks for meter; an advantage for some readers - others will find it less intuitive than Turco's notation.
What Williams provides that Turco does not is more information on the current use of the form. His introductory elements of poetic forms is short and limited to the topic at hand - poetic forms. His arrangement of forms provides a more useful structure to learn and understand forms; while Turco gives the forms in alphabetic order, Williams provides the following organization (in chapters): 1) fully defined traditional stanza patterns 2) Loosly defined traditional stanza patterns 3) Traditional poems of set length 4) Traditional froms of indefinite length 5) Nonspecific forms and formal elements 6) Variations on the stanzas 7) Variations on the poems
His appendices have fascinating material relating structural linguistics to prosody, some observations on line breaks and a glossary of terms.
In a classroom setting where teaching the forms as a basis for literary critique, I would reach first for Williams. For writing poetry in forms, I would reach first for Turco. The best solution is, obviously, to own both.
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great book of forms May 29 2002
By adead_poet@hotmail.com - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Turco's Book of Forms has pretty much become the standard encyclopedia of poetic forms. And for good reason. But you shouldn't overlook Williams' Patterns of Poetry which is just as good, and in some way superior. It's well written and Williams chooses great example poems, and he divides the book seven sections, three appendices, and a glossary, which makes the book very accessible for the reader. While I would never say not to get Turco's book, I do think that you should also add Patterns of Poetry to your library.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Useful, Engaging Reference July 21 2008
By Kevin L. Nenstiel - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
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.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book for poets Dec 8 2010
By Dr. Bon-Ton - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a short review, as time is of the essence right now. Miller Williams has written an excellent book on poetic forms. He doesn't include ALL possible forms, but he includes the major forms, and gives good explanations of how the forms can be worked, and great examples of poems written IN the forms. If you are a poet and want to expand your repertoire, this is the book for you.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must for poetry writers. Dec 26 2012
By Penelope - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
To write great poetry one MUST learn about the "science" of poetry. Forcing oneself to operate with in the confines of a form is excellent practice.
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