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!


Sunday, April 26, 2009


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!


Belle said...

Poetry is something that I've always found challenging. I like the idea of learning to really read it!

The Bookworm said...

sounds like a good book! I really have to be in the mood to read poetry.

Lezlie said...

Belle ~ Me, too. I've always had a hard time with it. If I find a really good beginner book, I'll be sure to let you know!

Naida ~ It was! I'm not much on poetry in general, so I'm hoping that educating myself about it will help me to appreciate it more. I do know I like the poetry of Christina Rossetti! :-)


Ladytink_534 said...

Not sure if I would find this dreadfully boring or completely enlightening lol. Easily could go either way!

Lezlie said...

Ladytink ~ It really could go either way. If we were to read it again, I would do it in stages, not in one chunk. Straight through was too much for my brain to take in. There may be more "enlightening" times that way.


Rebecca Reid said...

I have this book out from the library but I haven't started yet. I'm hoping I have most of the poems he mentions in my anthologies. thanks for the warning about going in bits rather than all at once. It looks like a great book, and I look forward to my curiosity being piqued, but it does sound more dense than I imagined!

joanna said...

Hmm, sorry it wasn't what you thought it would be! Let me know when you find a beginner's poetry book though, I'd love to go through that myself! :-)

JoAnn said...

If you find an absolute beginner book, I'd definitely be interested!
Wonder if there is a 'Poetry for Dummies' ;-)

Lezlie said...

Rebecca ~ There was much more to this one that I expected. I can't wait to see your thoughts on it!

Joanna ~ I will definitely keep on the lookout and report back. I think there are a lot of us who would like to learn more about poetry in a novice-friendly way.

JoAnn ~ There *is* a Poetry For Dummies book! If my other books don't do the job, I may turn to that next! :-)


Elen said...

What an intriguing book! I've never been very good with poetry, though I can appreciate individual poems. It would be very interesting to learn how to read poetry in a more rewarding way. Stephen Fry has written a book about poetry that looks promising, too:

Lezlie said...

Elen ~ I will have to look into that one! Thank you for the suggestion! I am on a mission to figure this poetry thing out. :-)


Serena said...

I really am amazed by this undertaking of yours to read about poetry and to come to a better understanding of the form. I have a couple of book recommendations for you, if you are interested in learning more about the genre:

Poems, Poets, Poetry: An Introduction and Anthology by Helen Vendler

The Making of a Poem: A Norton Anthology of Poetic Forms (Paperback)
by Mark Strand

How to read a poem-- and start a poetry circle Peacock, Molly

Lezlie said...

Serena ~ Thank you so much for the recommendations! I have The Making of a Poem, and I plan on dipping into that this summer. I'll definitely check into the others also!