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The Art of the Poetic Line by James…

The Art of the Poetic Line (2008)

by James Longenbach

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A fascinating and in-depth look at the various reasons (and effects) of line breaks (sorry – make that “line endings”) in poetry.

While you may not agree with all of his conclusions, it's hard to fault either his passion or thoroughness. (On a personal note, I'm always impressed when I find myself arguing against the author as I read, and then find that he addresses the very points I'm making on the next page.) Think of it as a lineation seminar that you can carry with you and revisit at will. (It's even pocket-sized!)

Possibly a little advanced for poetry novices, but well worth the effort. A good read, good arguments, and extremely good value. Recommended. ( )
1 vote joannasephine | Nov 16, 2009 |
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The meaning of a poem is in the cadences and the shape of the lines and the pulse of the thought which is given by those lines. -- George Oppen
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Poetry is the sound of language organized in lines.
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"Poetry is the sound of language organized in lines." James Longenbach opens The Art of the Poetic Line with that essential statement. Through a range of examples - from Shakespeare and Milton to Ashbery and Glck - Longenbach describes the function of line in metered, rhymed, syllabic, and free-verse poetry. That function is sonic, he argues, and our true experience of it can only be identified in relation to other elements in a poem. Syntax and the interaction of different kinds of line endings are primary to understanding line, as is the relationship of lineated poems to prose poetry. The Art of the Poetic Line is a vital new resource by one of America's most important critics and one of poetry's most engaging practitioners.… (more)

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