Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
De/Compositions: 101 Good Poems Gone Wrong Paperback – June 1, 2001
All Books, All the Time
Read author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more at the Amazon Book Review. Read it now
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
From Publishers Weekly
Neither Yeats nor Stevens, Dickinson, Auden or Shakespeare escapes Pulitzer-winner W.D. Snodgrass's often droll, (intentionally) paltry rewriting in De/Compositions: 101 Good Poems Gone Bad. In the classroom, Snodgrass (Heart's Needle) deploys the alternate-universe technique he demonstrates in this teacher's and poet's manual that is, he changes the specific words and syntax but retains the sense, meter and length of various poems and asks his students to compare the two versions. Cummings's "anyone lived in a pretty how town" (here "A certain man lived in a very nice town"), Lowell's "Skunk Hour" ("Raccoon Time") and Dickinson's "I Never Lost As Much but Twice" (simply "I've Lost So Much") each possesses a "particular excellence" that he attempts to "dissolve or drive out," thereby laying bare the elements that make a poem great.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
How can you tell if a poem is good? Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Snodgrass would put it next to a bad one and let the reader judge. To that end, he has taken 101 great poems and rewritten them wrong. The bad ones are sometimes so bad as to be funny, but they give readers a chance to see the difference even a small change can make in a poem. The "de/compositions" are divided into five categories: "Abstract & General vs. Concrete & Specific," "Undercurrents," "The Singular Voice," "Metrics & Music," and "Structure & Climax." The only commentaries are short essays on these sections. The poems, good beside bad, stand alone and teach their lessons. What will this book do for readers? Make them laugh maybe, but it will also show them what makes a good poem and possibly help them to write some. Recommended for academic and large public libraries. Lisa J. Cihlar, Monroe P.L., WI
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top customer reviews
I figured, when I put this on reserve at the library, that Snodgrass was going to take poems from otherwise excellent (or, in some cases, overrated; it's about time a serious critic finally takes Emily Dickinson to task for every one of her poems being able to be sung to the tune of "The Yellow Rose of Texas") poets and breaking down what went wrong in them. I was wrong, and what I got was far finer: Snodgrass rewrites 101 poems, taking out the things that make them brilliant and turning them into everything from mediocre sludge to hysterically bad self-parody. In doing so, he highlights what is so wonderful about so many excellent poems better than thousands of pages of explication could; two or three pages of explication at the end of each section is included for clarity and closing notes, to highlight a change or two, but otherwise, Snodgrass lets the poems and their deconstructions (also, the occasional rough draft from the original poet) speak for themselves.
I cannot overstate the importance of this book for the working poet. It should be required reading for everyone who's ever written a poem with any pretense to greatness, and for most, it should be on the short shelf of sacred reference books to which the poet will turn hundreds, maybe thousands, of times over the course of his career. No finer book on (or of) poetry crossed my desk this year; very few finer have ever crossed it. It makes my top five books of the year. *****
As an example, Snodgrass takes the first stanza of William Blake's "The Tyger" and rewrites it (or, to use Snodgrass' expression "de/composes" it) from the usual striking variance of its original meter:
Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
and into strict iambics:
O tyger, beast that burns so bring
In darkling forests of the night,
What godlike hand, what deathless eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?
and then into anapests:
O tyger, you creature that's burning so bright.
In the threatening, darkening forests of night,
What hand of immortal, what diety's eye
Dare hope it could fashion thy feared symmetry?
In so doing, Snodgrass retains the original intent of the poet, but reveals how important word choice, rhythm, voice and meter and structure are to the poet.
A masterful piece of work that teaches without being "teachy." I highly recommend it!
This is not only a text for use in poetry classes, although the 101 "de/composed" poems are taken from Snodgrass's own work as a teacher. There's plenty of knowledge available to the casual reader in comparing the two versions of each poem and reading the accompanying discussion. That itself is a pleasure to read, direct, lucid, insightful, and often humorous. A definite five stars!