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Poetry For Dummies [Paperback]

The Poetry Center , John Timpane
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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Book Description

May 15 2001 For Dummies
Sometimes it seems like there are as many definitions of poetry as there are poems. Coleridge defined poetry as “the best words in the best order.” St. Augustine called it “the Devil’s wine.” For Shelley, poetry was “the record of the best and happiest moments of the happiest and best minds.” But no matter how you define it, poetry has exercised a hold upon the hearts and minds of people for more than five millennia. That’s because for the attentive reader, poetry has the power to send chills shooting down the spine and lightning bolts flashing in the brain — to throw open the doors of perception and hone our sensibilities to a scalpel’s edge.

Poetry For Dummies is a great guide to reading and writing poems, not only for beginners, but for anyone interested in verse.  From Homer to Basho, Chaucer to Rumi, Shelley to Ginsberg, it introduces you to poetry’s greatest practitioners. It arms you with the tools you need to understand and appreciate poetry in all its forms, and to explore your own talent as a poet. Discover how to:

  • Understand poetic language and forms
  • Interpret poems
  • Get a handle on poetry through the ages
  • Find poetry readings near you
  • Write your own poems
  • Shop your work around to publishers

Don’t know the difference between an iamb and a trochee? Worry not, this friendly guide demystifies the jargon, and it covers a lot more ground besides, including:

  • Understanding subject, tone, narrative; and poetic language
  • Mastering the three steps to interpretation
  • Facing the challenges of older poetry
  • Exploring 5,000 years of verse, from Mesopotamia to the global village
  • Writing open-form poetry
  • Working with traditional forms of verse
  • Writing exercises for aspiring poets
  • Getting published

From Sappho to Clark Coolidge, and just about everyone in between, Poetry For Dummies puts you in touch with the greats of modern and ancient poetry. Need guidance on composing a ghazal, a tanka, a sestina, or a psalm? This is the book for you.


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From the Back Cover

"Wonderful.... This book demystifies poetry for all." —Lawrence Ferlinghetti, poet & painter, and co-founder of City Lights Books

Praise for Poetry For Dummies "Poetry For Dummies is a pleasant romp...with tons of information, informally and intelligently presented.... A fine introduction to poetry." —Willis Barnstone, author of Sappho: A New Translation and Algebra of Night

"Amaze and delight your friends at coffee houses or cocktail parties! Nobody who reads this welcoming and enlightening introduction to poetry from Sappho to slams will be a dummy about poetry anymore." —Ed Taylor, Executive Director, just buffalo literary center

Get expert tips on writing your own poems

Understand and appreciate the pleasures of poetry Can't tell the difference between an iamb and a trochee? Don't worry! This friendly guide demystifies all that complicated jargon and explains how to truly enjoy poetry. The authors walk you through poetry's history, show you where to find exciting contemporary readings, and provide easy exercises to stimulate your own poetic juices.

Discover how to: Understand the language and forms of poetry Interpret a poem's possible meanings Get a handle on poetry through the ages Find poetry readings near you Write your own poems

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About the Author

The Poetry Center in San Francisco sponsors readings and awards and houses a renowned poetry archive. John Timpane, Ph.D., is the author of It Could Be Verse: Anybody's Guide to Poetry. Maureen Watts is a writer and longtime poetry activist who serves on the board of the National Poetry Association

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
The word poetry sends chills down the spines of many otherwise strong and balanced people. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Never Expected it to Be This Good..... March 27 2004
Format:Paperback
Poetry for Dummies was another of those books I was really hoping I didn't like. The whole "For Dummies" series gets on my nerves to begin with, so it is double trouble when I picked this title up and found it valuable on so many counts.
The opening section: Poetry 101 is an excellent read and in and of itself makes the book worth the purchase.
Each chapter clearly marks the intent across the top and is chock filled with check lists, hints and suggestions for the reader AND the practicing (new and old alike) poet. I was thinking, "This will all be old hat, I am sure" until I saw the authors include the staff from The Poetry Center in San Francisco.
What poet or poet-in-the-making doesn't nod, smile and point when we read this affirmation? "Poetry has more meaning, music and emotion per words, per syllable, per letter than any other kind of writing." (I could have sworn I heard an "Amen!" from the crowd or maybe... that was me.)
The book also includes some very valuable appendices with websites and poetry organizations.
Excellent resource for all poets and the people who love them. Check this one out.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Good Book Feb. 7 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I was a bit skeptical about this book before I bought it but I'm really getting a lot out of it. I don't know anything at all about poetry prior to buying this but it really walks you through it in a way that is interesting and easy to follow. A good purchase.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I wish this had been my course textbook!! Feb. 19 2007
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I am a University student studying to get my Bachelor of Arts degree in English, so I have had to do a bit of studying on Poetry. In my Criticism course there was a large section devoted to poetics, and as hard as I tried, I just did not understand it all...it was NOT sinking in. I read the course notes and listened to my lectures, but it wasn't sinking in. So, I got this book...and boy did it help!! It broke down all the concepts into easily understandable venacular, and FINALLY >>> I got it!! I don't think that I could have passed my course without it! I really wish they would make it one of the course textbooks, and in fact when they asked for comments on the course, I suggested it :) I don't understand why things have to be so difficult when there are books like these out there...learning should be enjoyable, and this book really helped to make that happen for me :)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Poetry for Dummies-even me Sept. 6 2009
Format:Paperback
Of all the poetry books which offer to help you understand and find your own poetic Muse this book stands alone as the Best of all. Perhaps some might say that this is a lot of praise but I still have my dog eared copy and I have poured over it constantly to glean nuggets of inspiration when the old Writer's Block came knocking at my soul. I have mentioned this book to others to buy or loan out from their library-hopefully they followed my advice and have bought their own copy as well-Buy this book-if you ever honestly want one book to help you in writing poetry then get your hands on this book
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5.0 out of 5 stars Simplifying the Obscure in Poetry Dec 30 2001
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Poetry For Dummies is the first book of its kind to be readable, sensible and understandable. For the novice or the more proficient, it is a great source book. Lots of innovative ideas and suggestions as well as rock solid poetic info! The college course I took in Creative Poetry (an upper division course!) didn't give me the easy access and insight that this book did.
Guess I qualify as a "Dummie!"
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