An Exaltation of Forms: Contemporary Poets Celebrate the Diversity of Their Art

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Annie Finch, Kathrine Varnes, Kathrine Lorne Varnes
University of Michigan Press, 2002 - Literary Criticism - 442 pages
At once handbook, reader, and guide to the literary tastes and wisdom of poets, An Exaltation of Forms is an indispensable resource certain to find a dedicated audience among poetry lovers. The editors invited over fifty contemporary poets to select a poetic meter, stanza, or form, describe it, recount its history, and provide favorite examples. The essays represent a remarkably diverse range of literary styles and approaches, and show how the forms of contemporary English-language poetry derive from a wealth of different traditions.
The forms range from hendecasyllabics to prose poetry, haiku to procedural poetry, sonnets to blues, rap to fractal verse. The range of poets included is equally impressive--from Amiri Baraka to John Frederick Nims, from Maxine Kumin to Marilyn Hacker, from Agha Shahid Ali to Pat Mora, from W. D. Snodgrass to Charles Bernstein. Achieving this level of eclecticism is a remarkable feat, especially given the strong opinions held by members of the various camps (e.g., the New Formalists, LANGUAGE poets, feminist and multicultural poets) that exist within today's poetry community. Poets who might never occupy the same room here occupy the same pages, perhaps for the first time. The net effect is a book that will surprise, inform, and delight a wide range of readers, whether as reference book, pleasure reading, or classroom text.

Poet, translator, and critic Annie Finch is director of the Stonecoast low-residency MFA program at the University of Southern Maine. She is author of The Ghost of Meter: Culture and Prosody in American Free Verse, Eve, and Calendars. She is the winner of the eleventh annual Robert Fitzgerald Prosody Award for scholars who have made a lasting contribution to the art and science of versification.

Kathrine Varnes teaches English at the University of Missouri-Columbia. She is the author of the book of poems, The Paragon. Her poems and essays have appeared in many books and journals.

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I believe that this amazing volume could someday surpass Turco's standard book of form. Why? Because Annie Finch does some wonderful things -- she knows of what she speaks, yet makes it all so ... Read full review

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