The Sounds of Poetry
A Brief Guide
By Robert Pinsky
(Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Paperback, 9780374526177, 144pp.)
Publication Date: September 1999
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The Poet Laureate's clear and entertaining account of how poetry works.
"Poetry is a vocal, which is to say a bodily, art," Robert Pinsky declares in The Sounds of Poetry. "The medium of poetry is the human body: the column of air inside the chest, shaped into signifying sounds in the larynx and the mouth. In this sense, poetry is as physical or bodily an art as dancing."
As Poet Laureate, Pinsky is one of America's best spokesmen for poetry. In this fascinating book, he explains how poets use the "technology" of poetry--its sounds--to create works of art that are "performed" in us when we read them aloud.
He devotes brief, informative chapters to accent and duration, syntax and line, like and unlike sounds, blank and free verse. He cites examples from the work of fifty different poets--from Shakespeare, Donne, and Herbert to W. C. Williams, Frost, Elizabeth Bishop, C. K. Williams, Louise Glück, and Frank Bidart.
This ideal introductory volume belongs in the library of every poet and student of poetry.
Robert Pinsky is Poet Laureate of the United States. FSG published The Inferno of Dante in 1994 and The Figured Wheel in 1996. He teaches in the graduate writing program at Boston University and lives in Newton Corner, Massachusetts.
"A painless journey through the foothills of poetry . . . One of the marvelous things about this book is Pinsky's deep recognition that a poem is successful not because of the poet's ambition or sense of purpose but because of the effect it creates in the reader, and in many readers over time"--Graham Christian, Boston Phoenix