by Edward Hirsch
Edward Hirsch's love of poetry is undeniable. His enthusiasm shows all through How to Read a Poem And Fall in Love with Poetry. The only problem for me was that he didn't quite bring it down to the beginner level I was hoping for. As I read, I felt as if I was assumed to have a certain amount of knowledge regarding poets and poetry already, not to mention a fabulous library of poetry to which I could just wander over and pluck up the text in question. I didn't understand some of the references he threw out there with no explanations.
Rather than irritating me, it made me curious. Maybe his point was not only to remind people of things they might already know but also to fan the flames of inquisitiveness. (I almost said "fan the flames of inquisition", but that was not a pleasant image.)
My favorite parts were when a complete poem or section of a poem was printed out and he went on to analyze it in detail. I inevitably had those great "A-ha!" moments when I went back, reread, and thought about his comments. Unfortunately there are only a handful of those sections included. That's not a fault of the book, only of my understanding of what was in it.
I need to find a better "beginner" poetry book, but I will be keeping this one around not only for the excellent reading list at the back of the book, but to return to later once my knowledge is at a greater level to take in and better understand its content. In the meantime, I have a literature textbook that seems to have a very good poetry section, and I recently purchased The Making of a Poem: A Norton Anthology of Poetic Forms. Those should move me a little further down the knowledge path!
NOTICE: (Updated March 5, 2010)
Beginning December 19, 2009, Books 'N Border Collies will be posting but only intermittently while I pursue personal goals. I plan to share some reading I'm doing, but there will be no reviews. I will, however, be sharing my exploration of vegetarian cooking and the cookbooks and websites I use to educate myself. I hope you enjoy it!