Mark Strand & Eavan BolandIn the introductory statement the writers say this book is intended to answer those basic questions such as how does a sonnet work, what is a Sestina & what rules govern it, how many lines make up a Villanelle & what is it’s rhyme scheme? To do this they have traced the history of the various forms, in many cases back to the peasant origins and work songs of the countryside or the Balladeers who sung stories, spun the tales & spread the news through their communities and out to a wider audience. By answering these questions, by providing an overview of the major poetic forms, their history and the rules that they follow, bend or break, they hope to provide the reader with a key that will open the path to what will be a lifelong journey, with this book as a guide and map.
After the introduction, both editors state their case for poetry via their own personal experience, first as readers, discovering the art and on to the status they later achieved as poets in their own right, it’s this experience, insight and passion that stops this book being a dry academic exercise and makes it a suitable aid at what ever level you want to use it for, whether a university student or just someone wishing to understand more.
What’s wonderful about this book is the amount of poetry within the pages, easily outnumbering the pages of text, example after example used to demonstrate form and just there to be read. This isn’t just a text book, it’s an anthology of poetry with writers such as Mathew Arnold, Elizabeth Bishop, Louise Gluck, Dylan Thomas, W.B. Yeats, Charles Simic, Sylvia Plath, W.S. Mervin and Gwendolyn Brooks, plus hundreds of others, it also ends with a fantastic series of biographies on the featured writers & a suggested reading list, making this a book that any lover of poetry, or even someone getting into poetry for the first time, will find a useful addition to their bookshelf, either as a reference tool or as a collection of poetry to be dived into when the mood takes.
Eavan Boland was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1944. The daughter of a diplomat and a painter, Boland spent her girlhood in London and New York, returning to Ireland to attend secondary school in Killiney and later university at Trinity College in Dublin. Though still a student when she published her first collection, 23 Poems (1962), Boland’s early work is informed by her experiences as a young wife and mother, and her growing awareness of the troubled role of women in Irish history and culture. Over the course of her long career, Eavan Boland has emerged as one of the foremost female voices in Irish literature. Her awards include a Lannan Foundation Award in Poetry, an American Ireland Fund Literary Award, a Jacob's Award for her involvement in The Arts Programme broadcast on RTÉ Radio, and an honorary degree from Trinity. She has taught at Trinity College, University College, Bowdoin College, and she was a member of the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa. She is also a regular reviewer for the Irish Times.Mark Strand was born on Prince Edward Island, Canada,he grew up in various cities across the United States. Strand originally expressed interest in painting and hoped to become an artist. He received a B.A. from Antioch College and a B.F.A. from Yale University in 1959. His interest in painting waned, and by the age of twenty, he had decided to become a poet instead. He is now recognized as one of the premier contemporary American poets as well as an accomplished editor, translator and prose writer. The hallmarks of his style are precise language, surreal imagery, and the recurring theme of absence and negation; later collections investigate ideas of the self with pointed, often urbane wit. Named the U.S. Poet Laureate in 1990, Strand’s career has spanned nearly four decades, and he has won numerous accolades from critics and a loyal following among readers