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The Body of Poetry: Essays on Women, Form, and the Poetic Self

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The Body of Poetry collects essays, reviews, and memoir by Annie Finch, one of the brightest poet-critics of her generation. Finch's germinal work on the art of verse has earned her the admiration of a wide range of poets, from new formalists to hip-hop writers. And her ongoing commitment to women's poetry has brought Finch a substantial following as a "postmodern poetess" The Body of Poetry collects essays, reviews, and memoir by Annie Finch, one of the brightest poet-critics of her generation. Finch's germinal work on the art of verse has earned her the admiration of a wide range of poets, from new formalists to hip-hop writers. And her ongoing commitment to women's poetry has brought Finch a substantial following as a "postmodern poetess" whose critical writing embraces the past while establishing bold new traditions. The Body of Poetry includes essays on metrical diversity, poetry and music, the place of women poets in the canon, and on poets Emily Dickinson, Phillis Wheatley, Sara Teasdale, Audre Lorde, Marilyn Hacker, and John Peck, among other topics. In Annie Finch's own words, these essays were all written with one aim: "to build a safe space for my own poetry. . . . [I]n the attempt, they will also have helped to nourish a new kind of American poetics, one that will prove increasingly open to poetry's heart." Poet, translator, and critic Annie Finch is director of the Stonecoast low-residency MFA program at the University of Southern Maine. She is co-editor, with Kathrine Varnes, of An Exaltation of Forms: Contemporary Poets Celebrate the Diversity of Their Art, and 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.


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The Body of Poetry collects essays, reviews, and memoir by Annie Finch, one of the brightest poet-critics of her generation. Finch's germinal work on the art of verse has earned her the admiration of a wide range of poets, from new formalists to hip-hop writers. And her ongoing commitment to women's poetry has brought Finch a substantial following as a "postmodern poetess" The Body of Poetry collects essays, reviews, and memoir by Annie Finch, one of the brightest poet-critics of her generation. Finch's germinal work on the art of verse has earned her the admiration of a wide range of poets, from new formalists to hip-hop writers. And her ongoing commitment to women's poetry has brought Finch a substantial following as a "postmodern poetess" whose critical writing embraces the past while establishing bold new traditions. The Body of Poetry includes essays on metrical diversity, poetry and music, the place of women poets in the canon, and on poets Emily Dickinson, Phillis Wheatley, Sara Teasdale, Audre Lorde, Marilyn Hacker, and John Peck, among other topics. In Annie Finch's own words, these essays were all written with one aim: "to build a safe space for my own poetry. . . . [I]n the attempt, they will also have helped to nourish a new kind of American poetics, one that will prove increasingly open to poetry's heart." Poet, translator, and critic Annie Finch is director of the Stonecoast low-residency MFA program at the University of Southern Maine. She is co-editor, with Kathrine Varnes, of An Exaltation of Forms: Contemporary Poets Celebrate the Diversity of Their Art, and 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.

40 review for The Body of Poetry: Essays on Women, Form, and the Poetic Self

  1. 5 out of 5

    Donna Cowan

    I loved this book! I read an excerpt of her essay "How to Create a Poetic Tradition" online and was hooked. This book contains that essay and many more. "The Body of Poetry" has a premise that will fascinate both genders: that "the poem's body has come to be despised by literary culture." Her short essay (or rather, almost a checklist) "Omniformalism: A Manifesto," is something every poet should read (and probably post above his/her desk). In it, she suggests that every poem should have physical I loved this book! I read an excerpt of her essay "How to Create a Poetic Tradition" online and was hooked. This book contains that essay and many more. "The Body of Poetry" has a premise that will fascinate both genders: that "the poem's body has come to be despised by literary culture." Her short essay (or rather, almost a checklist) "Omniformalism: A Manifesto," is something every poet should read (and probably post above his/her desk). In it, she suggests that every poem should have physicality, permeability, structure, kinship, continuity, and mystery, and explains these beautifully. As Finch is an accomplished poet, this is some of the most beautiful literary criticism you'll ever read.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Lynnell

    An enormously useful and wise collection of practical criticism that, over the course of the book, suggests a persuasive and well-considered thesis about how the metrical code, sometimes "ghost", inhabits and drives a poem. Her primary examples and explications are from her own and other women's poetry (including a really wonderful essay on Maxine Kumin's "Looking for Luck"), hence the title, but her aesthetic generally sets the definition of most free verse poetry in relief in clarifying ways. I An enormously useful and wise collection of practical criticism that, over the course of the book, suggests a persuasive and well-considered thesis about how the metrical code, sometimes "ghost", inhabits and drives a poem. Her primary examples and explications are from her own and other women's poetry (including a really wonderful essay on Maxine Kumin's "Looking for Luck"), hence the title, but her aesthetic generally sets the definition of most free verse poetry in relief in clarifying ways. I do not know Finch's poetry, but am encouraged to seek it out.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    This is a fabulous book that explores neglected avenues our poetic history as well as the subject of prosody, which I don't think I really understood until I read this book. Finch approaches her subjects with genuine intellectual curiosity and an open mind--two characteristics often absent in contemporary criticism. This is a fabulous book that explores neglected avenues our poetic history as well as the subject of prosody, which I don't think I really understood until I read this book. Finch approaches her subjects with genuine intellectual curiosity and an open mind--two characteristics often absent in contemporary criticism.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Lesley Wheeler

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sara Ryan

  6. 5 out of 5

    Readtolive

  7. 4 out of 5

    Andrea Cleary

  8. 4 out of 5

    Leucosia

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

  10. 5 out of 5

    Catherine Schweig

  11. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

  12. 4 out of 5

    Ali

  13. 5 out of 5

    Larissa Shmailo

  14. 4 out of 5

    Laura Wiseman

  15. 5 out of 5

    Sherry Chandler

  16. 4 out of 5

    Alison Hedlund

    A seminal book on poetics, essential to contemporary poets.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Katherine

  18. 4 out of 5

    Allison HedgeCoke

  19. 5 out of 5

    Aricka Foreman

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jilly

  21. 5 out of 5

    O.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Ann Michael

  23. 4 out of 5

    Tara Betts

  24. 5 out of 5

    Suzanne

  25. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jeannine

  27. 5 out of 5

    Sara Kearns

  28. 4 out of 5

    Elena Karina

  29. 5 out of 5

    Pamela

  30. 4 out of 5

    Juliet

  31. 4 out of 5

    Stef

  32. 4 out of 5

    Steve Owen

  33. 4 out of 5

    Andrea

  34. 4 out of 5

    Dana Miranda

  35. 5 out of 5

    Jocelyn

  36. 4 out of 5

    Moira Russell

  37. 4 out of 5

    Megan

  38. 4 out of 5

    Kimberly

  39. 5 out of 5

    Holly Woodward

  40. 4 out of 5

    Bridget (awesome spark)

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