Customer Reviews

24
4.2 out of 5 stars
The Sounds of Poetry: A Brief Guide
Format: PaperbackChange
Price:$11.09 + Free shipping with Amazon Prime
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item


There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on April 1, 2001
I have been a fairly big poetry fan for awhile now, but never have been able to pick up how subtle poetry really is. If you are like me and have read poems before, and have felt the frustration in not being able to explain why they sound so wonderful, this book is for you. For instance, who would have known that juxtaposing words with Germnaic and Latin roots can often produce a pleasing effect? Pinsky will allow you to pick up on this.
Some have said that Pinsky is dry and condescending in this work. It's true, Pinsky talks about poetry in a way devoid of all mysticism, but I think this no-nonesense and more objective approach is wonderful. Additionally, I don't see any actual condescension in the work. P's goal is not only to be simple, but also to show how misleading usual terminology can be. However, paradoxically, it is knowledge of what this terminology means and how it is useful, along with how Pinsky's ability to describe how subtle the sounds of poetry are that will teach you how to talk about poetry intelligently, if only with yourself.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on March 25, 2005
Too many poetry books (and teachers) approach meter as though it were a clearly defined binary system of equally stressed and equally unstressed syllables. Robert Pinsky is largely successful at showing how to appreciate the rich variety of sounds in the English language while avoiding a lot of technical terms and descriptions. It's important to keep in mind that this is not intended as an overview of the basics of poetry, but a "brief guide" to one aspect of how poetry works. He discusses rhythm and meter (including the effects of duration and pitch), rhyme and its variations, and blank and free verse. There were a few aspects of the book I didn't fully agree with. Pinsky treats all meter as variations of iambic. He includes some elements of word choice (particularly etymology) that are not convincingly related to sounds. And his tone is at times too simplistic - not condescending, exactly, but annoyingly dumbed down. However, this short book is well worth reading to get a poet's perspective on the importance of sound in verse.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Don't be deceived by the bad reviews you see from a few others here. What likely disappoints them about this book is its refusal to be useable, to give a method to read or write rhythm, to make illusory markings of beats or syllables. Far from reducing poetry to a scheme, Pinsky brings out the uniqueness of every line, every sounding of words together. He shows how the power of a poem involves tones and speeds and flows of sound played against subtle turns of syntax.

He shies away from neat categories of verse. Instead, he'll show marvels, such as iambic pentameters within Ginsberg's "Howl."

Not only can you learn about poetry here, but find such sentences as: "The emotion, the sexual horniness, produces an artifact of extravagant control." Rather than a book to pick up for practice or study, I found it was hard to put down.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on April 19, 2003
for an appreciation of poetry. The sounds of poetry were one of the most important aspects of western poetry before Homer, when the sounds were integral pnemonics for poems to be remembered by many people in many places for long times. Homer's epics were known by rote for their sounds. Language's sounds & music are still one of the most important aspects of poetry today; I think they always will be. Poetics run deep, & with poetry so much is invested in the sounds. This is absolutely the best resource I know for a student of poetry to begin to develop an ear for poetry. To continue to develop it of course you need to care, & you need to read. Pinsky has been doing great services to poetry throughout his career as poet & scholar. I hope this review has been useful to you.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon March 9, 2007
Robert Pinsky's The Sounds of Poetry is an invaluable guide to the most critical--and one of the most neglected--aspects of poetic writing: sound. I first read this book when taking an undergrad poetry-writing course, and I found it immensely helpful.

Pinsky takes a great deal of potentially clunky, academic information and distills it into a fast, easily-digestible handbook. In just over 100 pages, he outlines the essentials of rhythm, meter, the meaning carried by sounds, and the interrelation of all three. For anyone who has read, studied, or written poetry before, there won't be much new here, but having so much good advice in such a concentrated form makes this little book an excellent read. Even several years after taking that course, I still find myself browsing this book, looking for helpful reminders and inspiration.

Pinsky's book is not only helpful and informative, it's a fast, fun read--it both delights and informs. Horace would be proud.

Highly recommended.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on December 18, 1999
This is obviously not the first book to explore poetry from an angle other than the meaning of its words -- for another example, see John Ciardi's "How Does a Poem Mean?". Nonetheless, it's a very readable discussion of one of the things that distinguishes poetry from prose -- the importance of how it sounds, either spoken aloud or spoken in the reader's mind. I love to read poetry, and this book has given me a new layer of understanding -- both of poems themselves and of what I enjoy about them.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on October 10, 2008
Pinksky's close careful discussion of how sound works in poetry is immensely instructive, like being taken on a leisurely tour through an art museum accompanied by a first-rate docent. After reading this book, unless you are either already a superb reader or supremely stupid, you will find new registers, new nuances in poems you thought you knew through and through. William Carlos Williams called poems "machines made of words": Pinsky takes several poems apart and carefully points out and explains the workings of some of their most delicate and precise inner mechanisms. I know of no other book that treats this subject as well.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on April 21, 2001
Robert Pinsky's book "The Sound of Poetry" emphasizes the formal elements of poetry. His exploration of poetry centers on the premise that poetry is a musical art form that harmonizes the audible elements. Pinksy lucidly illumines the everyday reader into the mystery of verse. His careful analysis of poetic structure and rhythms get at what the core of a great poem is. While in this attempt he sometimes tries to phrase the inexpressible he still manages to make the reader understand his point. The inexactness of language which sometimes fails in prose, becomes the same basis for beautiful poetry.
While aimed more precisley at young poets, any english speaker who has the patience to stick with this worthy tome can gain an increased understanding of the nature of the language that can only expand and inform his or her own poetry and prose and broaden the richness of his or her life experience.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on July 23, 2000
This book enlightened me regarding both the nuts-and-bolts and the art of poetry. I would recommend it to a thoughtful reader.
However, I had to read a couple of sections more than once, and it took me a while to get through it. I'd say it's a little bit "wordy."
I learned from it. I'm glad I read it. I now appreciate more of the remarkable "language behind the language."
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on November 12, 2010
A quick read that invites many re-readings for those serious about learning about the methods of poetry. He writes in a way that anyone can understand even if they have no background in literature or poetry. Highly recommended for those discovering poetry who want more depth about the methods to the madness.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
     
 
Customers who viewed this also viewed


A Poetry Handbook
A Poetry Handbook by Mary Oliver (Paperback - August 15, 1994)
$9.76
 
     

Send us feedback

How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you?
Let us know here.

Your Recently Viewed Items and Featured Recommendations 
 

After viewing product detail pages, look here to find an easy way to navigate back to pages you are interested in.