I haven’t blogged about poetry books for a while because I’ve been working my way through a whopper: ‘An Introduction to Poetry’ by XJ Kennedy and Dana Gioia. It’s delightful. It doesn’t speak about form quite as exhaustively as Stephen Fry’s ‘The Ode Less Travelled,’ but it’s still pretty thorough and informative, and it also made a start on filling in the gaps in my knowledge of 20th century American free verse.
I especially enjoyed the sections on critical thinking about poetry. I never entirely liked comparative literature classes when I was a student, but the little discussion questions after each poem in this book really tickled me. Probably just nostalgia for my college days, although I was glad not to have to do the essay exercises.
I read quite an old edition (1998); and its age showed in sections like ‘Writing and Researching on the Computer.’ I’d be curious to see if there are later editions, and if so, which poets from the past decades they’ve chosen to include. The selections included in this one appealed to me a lot — I’ll be sorry to take it back to the library.