From Publishers Weekly
In this delightfully erudite, charming and soundly pedagogical guide to poetic form, British actor (narrator of the Harry Potter movies, among other roles), novelist and secret poet Fry leads the reader through a series of lessons on meter, rhythm, rhyme and stanza length and reveals the structural logic of every imaginable poetic form, including the haiku, the ballad, the ode and the sonnet. Writing poetry, like any hobby, should be fun, Fry claims, and while talent is inborn, technique can be learned. Inviting readers to study the wealth of choices of form available in the world's major poetic traditions, Fry himself pens intentionally vapid yet entertaining poems that demonstrate each form's rules and patterning, and ends each lesson with wittily devised exercises for readers. Fry rails against the dumbing down of verse in a section subtitled "Stephen gets all cross": "It is as if we have been encouraged to believe that form is a kind of fascism and that to acquire knowledge is to drive a jackboot into the face of those poor souls who are too incurious, dull-witted or idle to find out what poetry can be." Fry has created an invaluable and highly enjoyable reference book on poetic form, which deserves to achieve widespread academic adoption, despite or even because of its saucy and Anglocentric tone. (Aug. 17)
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The author, a noted novelist, comedian, and actor, doubts his new book will make it onto school curricula, and that's a shame. Of all the poetry guides you're likely to read (and there are a ton of them out there), this one's probably the most entertainingly written and downright useful. The book is full of technical terms--spondee, enjambment,
trochee--but these are explained so cleverly and so clearly that we very quickly can use them as though we've been doing so all our lives. The book is an education not only in the mechanics of poetry but also in its history. And, naturally, it's full to bursting with the author's delightfully impish wit: "The above," he writes at one point, "is precisely the kind of worthless arse-dribble I am forced to read whenever I agree to judge a poetry competition." Fry's legion of fans will get an enormous kick out of it, and English-lit students will learn more from this one book than they will from a stack of more traditional textbooks. David PittCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved