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The Book of Forms: A Handbook of Poetics

by Lewis Turco

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422254,352 (4.03)6
Companion to the Book of Literary Terms, an indispensable handbook, revised and updated for today's users.

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I found this to be a very useful handbook when I was seriously trying to write formed verse when I was young. It gives clear explanations of the patterns of a wide variety of verse forms; most are late medieval to modern European,but a few are from other cultures. here is also a very helpful bibliography of modern (as of 1968) examples of poets working in these forms, which not only encourage reading some poems which are delightful in themselves, but also makes very clear that these verse forms are by no means "dead" i recent times, just because of the fad for unformed verse in the twentieth century. The book is also a very small hand [pocket size, eay to carry around and consult as needed. ( )
  antiquary | Oct 1, 2017 |
Interesting. Though this is an incredibly useful handbook for the poet with intermediate level training in metrics, I have a few bones to pick with Mr. Turco. First--I have no problem with an author using his own poems as illustrations of forms, especially when other illustrations are scarce. However, it seems a little pompous to provide illustrations written both by oneself and one's pseudonym. In fact, for one who is willing to publish under his own name, the idea of having a pseudonym is, in itself, a little wankety. Second--If one is going to illustrate a poetic form with a poem of his own composition, it seems fairly important to FOLLOW THE FORM, instead of just providing a gloss stating what elements of the example do not belong to the form being illustrated. It would make the book considerably less cumbersome, and considerably more useful. Third--Though I got the impression from the book that Mr. Turco is very proud of his copyrighted code for building models of verse forms, it is significantly more complicated than it has to be. It also demands of the experienced metrician a difficult shift of mindset that would not be necessary if he had simply used the old, tried-and-true scansion symbols that everyone else uses.
Now the good news:
1. It is quite complete.
2. It has a VERY useful and interesting several chapters on rhetorical devices that are of use to the poet.
3. It forces on writers of "free verse" the much less respectable epithet of "prose poets."
4. Though many of Turco's examples come from his own work (see note above), the ones that do not are from respectable sources (Although in the section on "Rubaiyat," he somehow neglects even to mention Fitzgerald's translations of Omar Khayyam.

In summary: If you write metrical poetry, pick it up. It's goods outweigh its bads, and if you happen to be a complainer, it'll give you plenty to talk about. ( )
3 vote clayjs | Apr 22, 2009 |
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Companion to the Book of Literary Terms, an indispensable handbook, revised and updated for today's users.

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