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How to Read Poetry Like a Professor: A Quippy and Sonorous Guide to Verse

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From the bestselling author of How to Read Literature Like a Professor comes this essential primer to reading poetry like a professor that unlocks the keys to enjoying works from Lord Byron to the Beatles. No literary form is as admired and feared as poetry. Admired for its lengthy pedigree—a line of poets extending back to a time before recorded history—and a ubiquitous pr From the bestselling author of How to Read Literature Like a Professor comes this essential primer to reading poetry like a professor that unlocks the keys to enjoying works from Lord Byron to the Beatles. No literary form is as admired and feared as poetry. Admired for its lengthy pedigree—a line of poets extending back to a time before recorded history—and a ubiquitous presence in virtually all cultures, poetry is also revered for its great beauty and the powerful emotions it evokes. But the form has also instilled trepidation in its many admirers mainly because of a lack of familiarity and knowledge. Poetry demands more from readers—intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually—than other literary forms. Most of us started out loving poetry because it filled our beloved children's books from Dr. Seuss to Robert Louis Stevenson. Eventually, our reading shifted to prose and later when we encountered poetry again, we had no recent experience to make it feel familiar. But reading poetry doesn’t need to be so overwhelming. In an entertaining and engaging voice, Thomas C. Foster shows readers how to overcome their fear of poetry and learn to enjoy it once more. From classic poets such as Shakespeare, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and Edna St. Vincent Millay to later poets such as E.E. Cummings, Billy Collins, and Seamus Heaney, How to Read Poetry Like a Professor examines a wide array of poems and teaches readers: How to read a poem to understand its primary meaning. The different technical elements of poetry such as meter, diction, rhyme, line structures, length, order, regularity, and how to learn to see these elements as allies rather than adversaries. How to listen for a poem’s secondary meaning by paying attention to the echoes that the language of poetry summons up. How to hear the music in poems—and the poetry in songs! With How to Read Poetry Like a Professor, readers can rediscover poetry and reap its many rewards.


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From the bestselling author of How to Read Literature Like a Professor comes this essential primer to reading poetry like a professor that unlocks the keys to enjoying works from Lord Byron to the Beatles. No literary form is as admired and feared as poetry. Admired for its lengthy pedigree—a line of poets extending back to a time before recorded history—and a ubiquitous pr From the bestselling author of How to Read Literature Like a Professor comes this essential primer to reading poetry like a professor that unlocks the keys to enjoying works from Lord Byron to the Beatles. No literary form is as admired and feared as poetry. Admired for its lengthy pedigree—a line of poets extending back to a time before recorded history—and a ubiquitous presence in virtually all cultures, poetry is also revered for its great beauty and the powerful emotions it evokes. But the form has also instilled trepidation in its many admirers mainly because of a lack of familiarity and knowledge. Poetry demands more from readers—intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually—than other literary forms. Most of us started out loving poetry because it filled our beloved children's books from Dr. Seuss to Robert Louis Stevenson. Eventually, our reading shifted to prose and later when we encountered poetry again, we had no recent experience to make it feel familiar. But reading poetry doesn’t need to be so overwhelming. In an entertaining and engaging voice, Thomas C. Foster shows readers how to overcome their fear of poetry and learn to enjoy it once more. From classic poets such as Shakespeare, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and Edna St. Vincent Millay to later poets such as E.E. Cummings, Billy Collins, and Seamus Heaney, How to Read Poetry Like a Professor examines a wide array of poems and teaches readers: How to read a poem to understand its primary meaning. The different technical elements of poetry such as meter, diction, rhyme, line structures, length, order, regularity, and how to learn to see these elements as allies rather than adversaries. How to listen for a poem’s secondary meaning by paying attention to the echoes that the language of poetry summons up. How to hear the music in poems—and the poetry in songs! With How to Read Poetry Like a Professor, readers can rediscover poetry and reap its many rewards.

30 review for How to Read Poetry Like a Professor: A Quippy and Sonorous Guide to Verse

  1. 5 out of 5

    BAM Endlessly Booked

    This book was exactly what I need to prepare myself for my 2019-2020 poetry project. All poetry vocabulary is defined with examples. The Who what where why how is answered. There is humor throughout so it's not dry. Loved it! This book was exactly what I need to prepare myself for my 2019-2020 poetry project. All poetry vocabulary is defined with examples. The Who what where why how is answered. There is humor throughout so it's not dry. Loved it!

  2. 5 out of 5

    John

    I've read all three of Dr. Foster's books. I do think he has done a great service in helping readers to better understand and enjoy literature. These books are mostly a light-hearted romp through, in some cases, the more difficult works of literature. I think his best book was his first one. The books that look at novels and poems are derivative of the first one. The best book I've read that helps readers understand and appreciate literature is Donald Hall's To Read Literature. Dr. Foster does a I've read all three of Dr. Foster's books. I do think he has done a great service in helping readers to better understand and enjoy literature. These books are mostly a light-hearted romp through, in some cases, the more difficult works of literature. I think his best book was his first one. The books that look at novels and poems are derivative of the first one. The best book I've read that helps readers understand and appreciate literature is Donald Hall's To Read Literature. Dr. Foster does a good job, but Donald Hall's book is still the best of the best.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sher

    I've been reading a little poetry for years. Recently I began reading a lot of poetry and I wanted to understand the structure and types of poetry better. This book has helped a lot, and it is written in a witty voice. Meter, Rhythm , Rhyme schemes, and many different types of poems and poets are covered. I've been reading a little poetry for years. Recently I began reading a lot of poetry and I wanted to understand the structure and types of poetry better. This book has helped a lot, and it is written in a witty voice. Meter, Rhythm , Rhyme schemes, and many different types of poems and poets are covered.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Robert Sheard

    Okay as a general introduction to poetry, but not as helpful as either his overview of literature of his book on novels.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Edward Chamberlin

    I enjoy all of Foster's "how-to" books, since they are always inspirational for me, getting me to seek out more books to read (or movies to see, in the case of the Silver Screen book). I thought there were lots of useful tips for reading poetry early on in this book (read it aloud after a first pass-through; follow the sentence structure instead of the line structure to gain meaning; read a poem multiple times), but that kind of petered out in the second half, which was interesting enough to rea I enjoy all of Foster's "how-to" books, since they are always inspirational for me, getting me to seek out more books to read (or movies to see, in the case of the Silver Screen book). I thought there were lots of useful tips for reading poetry early on in this book (read it aloud after a first pass-through; follow the sentence structure instead of the line structure to gain meaning; read a poem multiple times), but that kind of petered out in the second half, which was interesting enough to read, but not quite as relevant to the topic at hand. Overall, I would recommend this book for anyone seeking to get into lyric poetry, however, and it serves as a useful introduction to a literary genre that was never big, but is probably dying out even moreso in this day and age.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Lori

    Thomas Foster teaches readers how to approach poetry to make it meaningful to them. He discusses the poem's sentence structure, encouraging readers to pause of punctuation as one would do in reading other literature. He discusses arrangement into stanzas, rhyme schemes, meter, repetition, and more. He eventually moves into symbolism and other topics which often scare students. He created a readable introduction to poetry, with limited technical jargon. While armchair poetry enthusiasts may be th Thomas Foster teaches readers how to approach poetry to make it meaningful to them. He discusses the poem's sentence structure, encouraging readers to pause of punctuation as one would do in reading other literature. He discusses arrangement into stanzas, rhyme schemes, meter, repetition, and more. He eventually moves into symbolism and other topics which often scare students. He created a readable introduction to poetry, with limited technical jargon. While armchair poetry enthusiasts may be the most appreciative audience, non-majors taking literature classes with a fair amount of poetry will benefit. I received an uncorrected proof through LibraryThing Early Reviewers with the expectation of an unbiased review.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Paul Hankins

    If you have read the other Foster books on literature and novels, then the set-up and arrangement of this newest title (March 2018) will not surprise you or disrupt the flow of your reading into the ideas presented. Foster provides interesting commentary in the introduction that would be well-suited for the upper level grades as an re-introduction of sorts to poetry and poetic forms. Foster writes, "I think that for most people, however, is the matter isn't so much not liking poetry as feeling s If you have read the other Foster books on literature and novels, then the set-up and arrangement of this newest title (March 2018) will not surprise you or disrupt the flow of your reading into the ideas presented. Foster provides interesting commentary in the introduction that would be well-suited for the upper level grades as an re-introduction of sorts to poetry and poetic forms. Foster writes, "I think that for most people, however, is the matter isn't so much not liking poetry as feeling somehow overmatched, as if it were a contest and the other side had better equipment and more skill" (3). For the rest of the introduction, Foster presents poetry in its bare-bones form and puts the would-be poetry reader at ease for presenting what both bring to the table by way of text and reader. In "Sounds of Sense" and "Sound Beyond Sense," Foster brings the reader gently back to poetry if the reader is patient with returning to some of that early learning in meter and rhyme and literary devices. For the upper grade reader, these elements of the book may serve well as have the other two books mentioned prior. Early on within this book, however, I note that that Foster is reserved in the examples used and they seem more accessible and familiar and I have to think that this is due in part to the potential fear and trepidation poetry brings along with it. The rest of the book presents like the literature and novels with quippy titles followed by a short chapter which includes a definition of the term, and exploration of the term, and samples from the larger poetry community. As more and more classroom teachers seek out nonfiction text for the classroom, this one would be very nice not only as a primer for poetry but as an informing vehicle for the sounds, techniques, and moves we seek in prose.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Deedi Brown (DeediReads)

    All my reviews live at https://deedispeaking.com/reads/. TL;DR REVIEW: How to Read Poetry Like a Professor is fun, helpful, and the perfect book to help you start to read poetry more deeply. For you if: Want to read more poetry but feel like you don’t know how it works. FULL REVIEW: I read a lot, but I didn’t study English or literature in college. I always felt like I was missing the tools to read deeply, to pick up on nuances and meaning. So a few years ago, I read Thomas Foster’s How to Read Liter All my reviews live at https://deedispeaking.com/reads/. TL;DR REVIEW: How to Read Poetry Like a Professor is fun, helpful, and the perfect book to help you start to read poetry more deeply. For you if: Want to read more poetry but feel like you don’t know how it works. FULL REVIEW: I read a lot, but I didn’t study English or literature in college. I always felt like I was missing the tools to read deeply, to pick up on nuances and meaning. So a few years ago, I read Thomas Foster’s How to Read Literature Like a Professor, and I loved it. It was exactly what I was looking for. So this time around, when I wanted to read more poetry but I wasn’t sure how to even approach a poem at anything deeper than surface level, I turned to him again. How to Read Poetry Like a Professor was, once again, exactly what I was looking for. In his signature witty, wisecracking, approachable voice, Foster introduces us to the different elements that make poetry poetry. Things like line breaks, and the sounds in the words, and rhythm. All things I knew were important, but I’d never learned to interpret. This was a great introduction that was both fun and helpful! I do wish that he’d pulled in more examples that came from modern poets rather than classics (lots of old white dudes in there), but ultimately this book ended up being the perfect starter on my poetry journey. Now I find myself actively wanting to read more poetry. (As a first step, I subscribed to a few poem-of-the-day newsletters and followed some Instagram accounts.) Next, to keep learning, I think I’m going to read Don’t Read Poetry by Stephanie Burt!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Gloria

    Thomas Foster makes a valiant attempt to make poetry accessible to those who do not read it often or find it elusive. The two take-aways I value are: read a poem according to its punctuation and not just to the end of the line (this really does help the poem make sense), and read a poem aloud. This is simple advice that makes a difference in flow and comprehension, but Mr. Foster still got caught up a bit too much in technicalities that perhaps are more important for the poet to understand rather Thomas Foster makes a valiant attempt to make poetry accessible to those who do not read it often or find it elusive. The two take-aways I value are: read a poem according to its punctuation and not just to the end of the line (this really does help the poem make sense), and read a poem aloud. This is simple advice that makes a difference in flow and comprehension, but Mr. Foster still got caught up a bit too much in technicalities that perhaps are more important for the poet to understand rather than the reader. He does include quite a few examples which clarifies much, so overall this is helpful, but perhaps did not turn me into an avid poetry reader at this time.

  10. 4 out of 5

    M. Ryan

    This book has been written before. And better. I suppose this is a fine manual for English undergrad students. But even the selections Foster choses as examples are those we have read many times before ("Because I could not stop for Death," "Birches," "Jabberwocky," "The Road Not Taken"). This book has been written before. And better. I suppose this is a fine manual for English undergrad students. But even the selections Foster choses as examples are those we have read many times before ("Because I could not stop for Death," "Birches," "Jabberwocky," "The Road Not Taken").

  11. 4 out of 5

    Crystal

    I have enjoyed two other of Foster's book and even use one in my college-level Literature Appreciation class. I read this book and was hoping that I could employ it to help my students better understand poetry and learn to appreciate and enjoy it. While I am well educated in literature and writing and have even written a few award winning poems, I have to say that I wasn't as pleased with this book as I have been with the others I have read. Foster's wit and humor conveys the idea that there is I have enjoyed two other of Foster's book and even use one in my college-level Literature Appreciation class. I read this book and was hoping that I could employ it to help my students better understand poetry and learn to appreciate and enjoy it. While I am well educated in literature and writing and have even written a few award winning poems, I have to say that I wasn't as pleased with this book as I have been with the others I have read. Foster's wit and humor conveys the idea that there is some much that is complicated about poetry and that understanding it can be very hard. He makes lots of jokes and jabs that are humorous and attempt to disarm the complicated alarm set over poetry. Unfortunately, in my opinion, he is only mildly successful. The complications are still there and while he does break it down a bit, it still really doesn't do much to encourage the appreciation of poetry for the average person/student. There are only a few chapters in this book that I might find usable in my Lit Apprec course. I'm disappointed but such is life. The complications of poetry are a bit like math and this can be discouraging to those who just want to appreciate the answer/solution to the math problem rather than being compelled to learn all the steps in working out a complicated math equation. The beauty of an answer can be appreciated just like a the beauty of a poem without needing to understand every step of the solution/creation. I wish Foster would have included a chapter surround this idea. There is much that is good here for more advanced readers and I would even say that this might be a usable text for a class singularly focused on understanding poetry in a technical sense. It is a good book, just not what I was hoping for this time.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Darrin

    This is the book I wanted and needed to read, though I did not know that when I found it on a best-of list and put a hold on it at our library. I committed to reading poetry more than 2+ years ago now but I had not had any type of formal poetry education since a one semester elective course in my junior year at university. Prior to that, there were a couple of weeks of learning to read and write poetry in 7th grade english where I famously wrote a haiku about love that my teacher thought was outs This is the book I wanted and needed to read, though I did not know that when I found it on a best-of list and put a hold on it at our library. I committed to reading poetry more than 2+ years ago now but I had not had any type of formal poetry education since a one semester elective course in my junior year at university. Prior to that, there were a couple of weeks of learning to read and write poetry in 7th grade english where I famously wrote a haiku about love that my teacher thought was outstanding. Perhaps it was this that has led me all these years later to want to really learn and read more. Professor Foster's book is entertaining and humorous but it was also serious and I learned topics over again that I had forgotten and I learned much that was new to me. Now that I have finished, I feel less intimidated by the poems I am reading and more aware of what a poem is and does. The two chapters that stood out for me were Chapter 5, The Long (or short) Gray Line about line length and line breaks and Chapter 6, Our Word is Our Bond which is about word choice or poetic diction. I think more than any areas of this book, these two chapters gave me real insight into the construction of and how to read poetry. I would have liked that he spend more time on modernist poetry (there is a chapter at the end but not enough, in my opinion) but there were still examples spread throughout the book that he used to illustrate the topics of each of his chapters. There were also many examples of poems and poetry books by authors I have not read and have put on my TBR list for the future including William Carlos Williams' Sour Grapes, Danusha Lameris' The Moons of August, Marianne Moore's poetry, and Christina Rossetii's poetry. This is just an excellent little book for a novice poetry reader like myself. A 5-star seal of approval from me.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kent

    Basic—but everyone needs the basics A thorough guide to poetry. I suspect that everyone could be reminded of some detail of how to read poetry in this book. It does exactly what it should

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sydney Doidge

    A great refresher on all those things I learned and forgot in high school. Now ready to read some poetry with more of an eye for language and form instead of confusion!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jeanine

    Sorts out the nitty-gritty of poetry and explains it in a light, often humorous yet very expert voice. Exactly what I was hoping for out of this book.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Laureano

    Excellent! Very accessible. Now I have to get cracking on reading poetry to apply all that I have just learned.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    Love these series of books.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Alison Robinson

    Yet again, Foster has been able to explain elements of literature that confuse students, or at the least deter them, in a way that makes learning fun and entertaining. I also really enjoyed the examples he selected. I will be using this with my students this year and I am thankful for his humor.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Avel Deleon

    My English teacher during High School: In the next few months, we are going to study poetry. The mere of sight of poetry sent me into a cave, a cave, I knew a little too well during my sophomore year in high school. What did I think about poetry? When I first encountered poetry, I found it to be a drag, convoluted, confusing, and boring. During my sophomore year in college, I had a rewaking, one which included reading 100's of books and among those books were the plays of Shakespeare, a poet I ha My English teacher during High School: In the next few months, we are going to study poetry. The mere of sight of poetry sent me into a cave, a cave, I knew a little too well during my sophomore year in high school. What did I think about poetry? When I first encountered poetry, I found it to be a drag, convoluted, confusing, and boring. During my sophomore year in college, I had a rewaking, one which included reading 100's of books and among those books were the plays of Shakespeare, a poet I have grown very fond of. NOW, I kind of really like poetry. I recently took a course were we read poem after poem deciphering each one like a detective who's attempting to figure out a murder. I just finished "How To Read Poetry Like A Professor" a book that explains the intricacies of poetry. The book covers sonnets, rhyme, Images, symbols, haiku and free verse. If you want to learn about poetry and it's magical powers this book is worthwhile. This is a book you don't necessarily need to read from beginning to end like a novel rather you can read it on the topic that most interest you.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Zachary Morris

    I thought this book was absolutely brilliant while I was reading it! For my summer reading this past summer I read How to Read Literature Like a Professor for my AP literature class and I enjoyed it a lot. I learned about the craft of literary analysis while also feeling like I took away a lot about writing too. That's how I felt about this books as well. I write poetry for fun and reading this book was fun seeing the different techniques used to write poetry as well as how to recognize these di I thought this book was absolutely brilliant while I was reading it! For my summer reading this past summer I read How to Read Literature Like a Professor for my AP literature class and I enjoyed it a lot. I learned about the craft of literary analysis while also feeling like I took away a lot about writing too. That's how I felt about this books as well. I write poetry for fun and reading this book was fun seeing the different techniques used to write poetry as well as how to recognize these different techniques. I feel like I will definitely be coming back to this book some time soon and will probably enjoy it just as much because I'll have learned even more that second time! There were points in this book that made me feel like I could never achieve excellence like the masters, but there was one section about awful poems and how not every poem was perfect and that gave me some hope for my own future writing. And with writing I think I'll be able to better get into the mind of a writer and better analyze different poetry (which is the original meaning of buying and reading this book haha).

  21. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    As another reviewer said, this book has indeed been written before, and better. Foster, in an effort to be true to his brand, I imagine, spends too much time trying to deliver on the "quippy," resulting in a book that, while approachable and at least somewhat instructive, will do little to actually develop one's appreciation for poetry. Which presumably is the reason someone comes to this kind of book in the first place -- to better enjoy poetry, not just to be able to rattle off the names of di As another reviewer said, this book has indeed been written before, and better. Foster, in an effort to be true to his brand, I imagine, spends too much time trying to deliver on the "quippy," resulting in a book that, while approachable and at least somewhat instructive, will do little to actually develop one's appreciation for poetry. Which presumably is the reason someone comes to this kind of book in the first place -- to better enjoy poetry, not just to be able to rattle off the names of different types of poems. If you're short on time and have zero knowledge of poetry, I suppose this is an acceptable place to start. But don't expect it to make the subject come alive for you. For that you're much better off with a book like Frances Mayes' The Discovery of Poetry: A Field Guide to Reading and Writing Poems.

  22. 4 out of 5

    sadiq

    What Is Poetry? Introduction: A (Slightly) Alien Life-Form 1. The Sounds of Sense 2. Sounds Beyond Sense Interlude: What the Heck Is It? How Is Poetry? 3. Redeeming the Time 4. The Rhythm(s) of the Saints 5. The Long (or Short) Gray Line 6. Our Word Is Our Bond 7. Rhyme Thyme 8. Look Who’s Talking 9. If It’s Square, It’s a Sonnet 10. A Haiku, a Rondeau, and a Villanelle Walk into a Bar 11. Shapes of Things to Come Interlude: Is Verse Ever Really Free? 12. Images, Symbols, and Their Friends 1 What Is Poetry? Introduction: A (Slightly) Alien Life-Form 1. The Sounds of Sense 2. Sounds Beyond Sense Interlude: What the Heck Is It? How Is Poetry? 3. Redeeming the Time 4. The Rhythm(s) of the Saints 5. The Long (or Short) Gray Line 6. Our Word Is Our Bond 7. Rhyme Thyme 8. Look Who’s Talking 9. If It’s Square, It’s a Sonnet 10. A Haiku, a Rondeau, and a Villanelle Walk into a Bar 11. Shapes of Things to Come Interlude: Is Verse Ever Really Free? 12. Images, Symbols, and Their Friends 13. Right Out Loud 14. Bards and Beatles Why Is Poetry? 15. Wanted: A Few Good Martians Conclusion: Supreme Fictions

  23. 4 out of 5

    Elaine

    As someone interested in poetry, but no more of an introduction than that one gets in a high school class, I found this book to be quite thorough and readable. Because of it, I was also introduced to some newer poets. The conclusion provided a lovely ending with its beautiful prose. I highly recommend this to anyone needing a brush up on terms or introduction to poetry. I received this copy through a Goodreads Giveaway.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Leigh

    I won this copy in a Goodreads Giveaway! I loved, loved, loved this! I learned so much and I giggled through most of it. What a fun way to learn about poetry! I wanted to get better at understanding the poetry that I am reading and this book certainly helped me to do that!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Dayna Smith

    An excellent primer on how to understand and read poetry. All of Foster's books are marvelous and this one is no exception. A must read for teachers, but very helpful for students and lay-people are well. An excellent primer on how to understand and read poetry. All of Foster's books are marvelous and this one is no exception. A must read for teachers, but very helpful for students and lay-people are well.

  26. 4 out of 5

    I Know Foucault

    Impossible to give an unbiased view This is now the third book that I have read by Foster. Each time has been the same - un unstoppable rush to the next chapter, followed by a dismay that all things must end. I have, it seems, gone through life blithely oblivious to everything that has been around me. I have read thousands of books since those days when my neighbour brought some books back from the newly opened library and gave them to me to read and, in so doing, changed my life. A neighbour who Impossible to give an unbiased view This is now the third book that I have read by Foster. Each time has been the same - un unstoppable rush to the next chapter, followed by a dismay that all things must end. I have, it seems, gone through life blithely oblivious to everything that has been around me. I have read thousands of books since those days when my neighbour brought some books back from the newly opened library and gave them to me to read and, in so doing, changed my life. A neighbour whose value I was also blithely oblivious to. Since reading Foster, I have been less blithe, less oblivious (and, to put this into perspective, “That time of year thou mayst in me behold...”) and the experience is...well...discombobulating. Offsetting the awe, the energy, the wonderment and bewilderment is an -almost- overwhelming sense of regret that I Didn’t Pay Attention To Any Of This Before. The narrative that my mind has constructed over recent months or years is that I thought I was living my life, but as the years go by, I realise that I have only ever lived the smallest part of it. Foster’s books have fed that perception by essentially saying, “Look again. See what you have missed. Now look again.” As for the tone and the manner in which he writes, I am sure that he will have his detractors. Personally, I find it comforting, supportive, collegial. He establishes a relationship with his readers - he’s patient, self-deprecating, insightful and never imposing. What you are left with is a clear understanding of just how deep his passion for the written word is and how consummate he is in his role as an educator. If you’re like me and have almost-lived your life, and you need a gentle doctor to lift the gauzes from your bruised eyes while they show you the world as it is to most likely everyone else, do like I did - buy all of Thomas C. Foster’s books and try to stop yourself from scarfing them down. Where possible, I limited myself to no more than a couple of chapters a day. And that has made all the difference.

  27. 5 out of 5

    L.E. Fidler

    there's some very helpful refresher info in this little nugget from everyone's favorite lit professor thomas c. foster, but i'd be wary using it with totally untrained readers of poetry. let me explain a little... i use How to Read Literature Like a Professor as part of my summer reading for a course because it provides an accessible reintroduction to reading literature for high school students. foster openly admits those readers were not his intended audience (he anticipates an older squad, his a there's some very helpful refresher info in this little nugget from everyone's favorite lit professor thomas c. foster, but i'd be wary using it with totally untrained readers of poetry. let me explain a little... i use How to Read Literature Like a Professor as part of my summer reading for a course because it provides an accessible reintroduction to reading literature for high school students. foster openly admits those readers were not his intended audience (he anticipates an older squad, his age and older, who are hoping to spend some quality retirement time getting down with their inner lit geeks - which is awesome, but the AP audience thanks him highly for his efforts regardless), but i was hoping to recreate some of the same magic with this one and use it (or selections from it) to help my nervous poetry readers flourish. i just don't think that's gonna happen. foster spends much of the first one-hundred pages or so in a deluge of poetic jargon that is off-putting to even the most sympathetic of poetry learners. the latter half of the book - which opens up the discussion to more concretely accessible items like imagery, symbolism, diction, etc. - is ultimately more successful. as always, i like foster's central message about the genre (what is it, even if that means effing the ineffable a bit, how it works, and why it is), but once he starts trying to highlight the stresses and jumps into the poetic irony of the word "iamb" being trochaic, he loses my intended audience. 3 stars. good but nothing particularly new here (ESPECIALLY the chapter on sonnets...)

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jim Razinha

    I wasn't sure I wanted to learn to read poetry like a professor, but I requested a review copy of this some months before publication - I didn't win that particular book lottery, but got it on my own anyway. I set this aside to read Stephen Fry's The Ode Less Travelled first, which made a world of difference in my reception of Foster's work. While not as lyrical nor as educated as Fry's, Foster nonetheless does a good job covering many bases. I was disappointed in the attention to "free verse", I wasn't sure I wanted to learn to read poetry like a professor, but I requested a review copy of this some months before publication - I didn't win that particular book lottery, but got it on my own anyway. I set this aside to read Stephen Fry's The Ode Less Travelled first, which made a world of difference in my reception of Foster's work. While not as lyrical nor as educated as Fry's, Foster nonetheless does a good job covering many bases. I was disappointed in the attention to "free verse", as that is and will like be ever baffling as to how it is even considered poetry (Foster says that what makes free verse "verse and not merely free" is "rules"...and does precious little to explain those rules). And on Cummings, Foster says of "anyone lived in a pretty how town"Before we leave that passage, it would be unfair to not admit that it is a whole lot of fun to say, even if you stumble. Maybe because you stumble. Stumbling is half the fun. Therein lies the secret to Cummings's charm: he leaves you baffled but smiling.Well, actually... I could not disagree more. I find Cummings the height of irritating. And I'm not smiling. I'm cherry picking...there is a lot here and Foster treats it lightly (a lot lighter than non-professor Fry). His humor grates after a while, but it's still a good resource. And I am sure now that I don't want to read poetry like a professor. Even with the two books under my belt, I don't know how much poetry I will or want to read. But, I can still recommend this book.

  29. 5 out of 5

    tortoise dreams

    A capable compendium for the beginning poetry consumer. Book Review: How to Read Poetry Like a Professor is solid, useful, practical. You won't go wrong with this one. That it's not the ideal Platonic archetype I've been seeking isn't Foster's fault. I've been looking for a basic introduction to reading poetry, and this ticks off most, though not all, of the boxes. My gentle fault-finding begins with the order in which the author presents his topics. Foster begins with the sounds of words (such a A capable compendium for the beginning poetry consumer. Book Review: How to Read Poetry Like a Professor is solid, useful, practical. You won't go wrong with this one. That it's not the ideal Platonic archetype I've been seeking isn't Foster's fault. I've been looking for a basic introduction to reading poetry, and this ticks off most, though not all, of the boxes. My gentle fault-finding begins with the order in which the author presents his topics. Foster begins with the sounds of words (such as "those hard g and k sounds"). Although important, for me this is one of the more esoteric elements, I find it comes naturally to many readers and writers, and way too much is made of it when evaluating poetry. Next he turns to meter (y'know, iambic pentameter, etc.), also esoteric, somewhat of a lost art (though making a comeback), and not truly scintillating. While both subjects need to be addressed, I'd put them off till the end to not discourage faint-hearted readers. Maybe begin with the oral tradition, discuss slam poetry, and then after intriguing the reader move on to the more academic topics. I know my criticism is completely subjective, but I say this because I found the first half of How to Read Poetry Like a Professor slow-going and was ready to quit. The second half picked up and saved my read. In fairness, he does work hard at making the book as interesting and fun as possible. Another small critique is a certain lack of diversity in the examples provided, which I'll credit to reasonably trying to keep down the number of copyrights. When I read Foster's previous book, How to Read Literature Like a Professor, I found it good at the time, but since then it has seemed even better in retrospect -- always a good sign when a book gets better over time. Perhaps How to Read Poetry Like a Professor will have the same effect. [3★]

  30. 4 out of 5

    Justin Ferguson

    I've heard a lot about Thomas Foster's "How to Read Literature Like a Professor" and I've even seen it on recommended reading lists for students. While perusing my library's new books, I came across Mr. Foster's "How to Read Poetry Like a Professor" and thought I should brush up on my poetry skills. As an English teacher, I've noticed that poetry can be a tough sell to high school students. However, I've also noticed that poetry can move the students in ways that prose cannot. Many of the emergi I've heard a lot about Thomas Foster's "How to Read Literature Like a Professor" and I've even seen it on recommended reading lists for students. While perusing my library's new books, I came across Mr. Foster's "How to Read Poetry Like a Professor" and thought I should brush up on my poetry skills. As an English teacher, I've noticed that poetry can be a tough sell to high school students. However, I've also noticed that poetry can move the students in ways that prose cannot. Many of the emerging readers or those who are abstract thinkers can relate to poems in ways that novels and short stories isolate them. At first I thought I would read this book with the students to help them understand what poetry is, what to look for, and how to read it. Halfway through the book I decided not to read it with students. It would bore them and I would struggle to get them back in order to read the actual poetry. However, as a teacher, this was a good resource for the technical terms and suggestions for analyzing poetry. Mr. Foster points out that many pre-service English teachers are not taught how to teach poetry. I know this was true in my case. I think "How to Read Poetry" should be included in any English methods courses in order to make sure that these soon-to-be teachers are ready to share the techniques of poetry with their students. While it's not a thrilling read, it doesn't take itself too seriously and it's well worth a read through.

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