Perrine's Sound and Sense: An Introduction to Poetry Paperback – Dec 30 2010
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"Obviously, I love this text--have loved it now for 30 years. . . . I would not take very much out of what is here--it teaches so very well."
"These are all fine poems, to be sure."
"[Chapter 2] is one of my favorite chapters in the book. I remember it helping me over fifteen years ago when I first started teaching poetry at Moorhead State University, and I still find it immensely helpful for my students. I wouldn't change much here." --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
About the Author
Thomas R. Arp received a B.A. in English from the University of Michigan (1954) and a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship to Stanford University. In 1955-1956, he produced educational television for the University of Michigan. He received an M.A. in 1960 and a Ph.D. in 1962 -- both from Stanford. He taught at Bowdoin College, Princeton University, University of California at Berkeley, Hull University (England), and Southern Methodist University. Macmillan published his volume, THE FORM OF POETRY, in 1966, and he received a Fulbright lectureship at University of Bucharest (Romania) in 1969-1970. Arp joined Laurence Perrine in preparing revised editions of SOUND AND SENSE, STORY AND STRUCTURE, and LITERATURE: STRUCTURE, SOUND, AND SENSE beginning in 1982. He became sole author of the books in 1997 and was joined by Greg Johnson in 2002. Dr. Arp passed away in 2015.
Greg Johnson received an M.A. in English from Southern Methodist University and a Ph.D. in English from Emory University. Dr. Johnson is the author of twelve books of fiction, poetry, criticism, and biography, including LAST ENCOUNTER WITH THE ENEMY (Johns Hopkins, 2004), WOMEN I'VE KNOWN: NEW AND SELECTED STORIES (Ontario Review, 2007), the novel STICKY KISSES (Alyson Books, 2001), and several books on Joyce Carol Oates, including INVISIBLE WRITER: A BIOGRAPHY OF JOYCE CAROL OATES (Dutton, 1998) and JOYCE CAROL OATES: CONVERSATIONS 1970-2006 (Ontario Review, 2006). He joined the author team of PERRINE'S LITERATURE in 2002 and has been the sole author since Thomas Arp's passing in 2015.
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If the tone of the writing was not so condescending, this could be a great book. It defines most of the terms necessary to understand critical texts on poetry, including those analyses related to meter, style, and tone. I find the questions after each poem to be helpful and thought-provoking. That said, it is frustrating to me that the author presents ideas and arguments in absolutes (must, must not, never, always, etc.) and then asserts that the logic that MUST be applied to point A CANNOT be applied to point B (but maybe I have spent too many hours working with lawyers).
My suggestion would be to read the text with a grain of salt. Glean the terminology, answer the questions posed at the end of each poem, follow their suggestions of rereading and considering the many facets of poetry, and try to overlook the condescending manner in which the authors display their opinions as fact.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
But from the beginning I found Perrine's style and approach to be stimulating, rather than analytical. Throughout we are immersed in poetry, great poetry, familiar poetry, unfamiliar poetry. Perrine argues that poetry needs to be read and reread carefully for full understanding and appreciation. We need to learn to think about poetry with some seriousness, but not in a cold, calculating manner. We approach new poetry with our eyes and ears open, our senses alive.
Yes, as other reviewers point out, Sound and Sense is structured and does methodically explore poetic forms in some detail. But this is not a drawback. It is actually an aid to understanding. Perrine manages to achieve his instructional objective without diluting his central message: poetry is to be enjoyed. He never forgets that his subject is poetry, and not poetic form and structure.
I have since learned that Perrine's text is still in use today, nearly fifty years after publication of the first edition. (See recent 10th edition 0155073966, June 8, 2000.) How can that be? Few textbooks achieve ten printings, much less ten editions. Even the title change signifies respect; it is no longer simply Sound and Sense, it is "Perrine's Sound and Sense".
I highly recommend Perine's text to anyone willing to invest a little time and study to poetry. The return will be worthwhile. I give Sound and Sense five stars.
I am a writer. I am a Poet; there I've said it (deep breath); I weaver of words, a spinner of tales, and to hear my wife tell it, a wordsmith. It took me a long time after I started writing poetry for me to finally claim the title as my own. I wrote poetry but I did not feel like a poet; I was not and am not classically trained in the arcane art of poetry. My degrees are in Leadership and Business Administration not Fine Arts. When I first started writing poetry I had no idea what an Iambic meter, Iambic Pentameter, or even a meter were when speaking of poetic creation. I wrote my poetry from the heart and soul not caring about the "rules" of writing poetry.
But then my wife suggested that I might want to actually study the mechanics of poetry in order to better understand the art-form. She suggested that I might want to pick up a copy of what is widely regarded as the definitive guide to writing and understanding poetry: "Perrine's Sound and Sense: An Introduction to Poetry" by Thomas R. Arp. I picked up the ninth edition of this seminal book.
"Perrine's Sound and Sense: An Introduction to Poetry" is a relatively thin volume considering the subject matter, checking in at 412 pages, and is divided into two sections: Part 1 The Elements of Poetry, and; Part 2 Poems for Further Reading.
"Perrine's Sound and Sense: An Introduction to Poetry" is not casual reading, it is at its core and test book meant to teach, to mentor the reader in the foundations of writing poetry. The author not only lays out the case for poetic creation, but also give examples of what he is trying to relate; poetry is sprinkled like marker posts throughout the book pointing you in the right poetic direction.
Another was "Perrine's Sound and Sense: An Introduction to Poetry" is like a test book is that it asks question of the reader about a poem given as an example in the book; for example after Alfred Lord Tennyson's poem The Eagle, the book asks the following questions:
1. What is peculiarly effective about the expression "crooked hands," "Close to the sun," "Ringed with the azure world," "wrinkled," "crawls," and "like a thunderbolt"?
2. Notice the formal pattern of the poem, particularly the contrast of "the stands" in the first stanza and "he falls" in the second. Is there any other contrast between the two stanzas?
For anyone unfamiliar with The Eagle, by Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809 - 1892) here it is:
He clasps the crag with crooked hands;
Close to the sun in lonely lands,
Ringed with the azure worlds, he stands.
The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;
He watches from the mountain walls,
And like a thunderbolt he falls.
By asking question, and then answering them of course, the reader is led to a better understanding of poetry and the way in which different poet's covey their message within the parameters of fixed poetic rules. In "Perrine's Sound and Sense: An Introduction to Poetry" the author, in the case Thomas R. Arp (Laurence Perrine was too ill to update this edition) lays out a rule or argument, gives an example of that rule in the form of a poem, and then asks questions of the reader to broaden, or tighten their understanding of the concepts presented. I found this to be a very effect method of coming to an understanding of poetry and the various rules governing its creation.
I tend to be a free-verse poet; I tried to write more structured verse but I found it too constraining. I did not always want my lines and stanzas to rhyme or otherwise conform to some of the more ridged rules of poetry, so I tend to write outside the lines as it were. But "Perrine's Sound and Sense: An Introduction to Poetry" helped me tighten my free-verse poetry by pointing out the right and wrong way to write this type of poetry. I have learned that I can drift outside the rules as long as I use some of the rules or poetry. Before reading "Perrine's Sound and Sense" I thought the rules of poetry were set in stone, but after reading the book I realize that poets are free to express themselves in a number of ways and still wear the label Poet.
I highly recommend "Perrine's Sound and Sense: An Introduction to Poetry" not only to aspiring and seasoned poets, but for readers of poetry as well. Gaining a broader understanding of what poetry is, can only heighten ones enjoyment of writing and reading this wonderfully expressive art-form.
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