A Little Book on Form

A Little Book on Form An Acute And Deeply Insightful Book Of Essays Exploring Poetic Form And The Role Of Instinct And Imagination Within Form From Former Poet Laureate, Pulitzer Prize And National Book Award Winning Author Robert HassRobert Hass Former Poet Laureate, Winner Of The National Book Award, And Recipient Of The Pulitzer Prize Illuminates The Formal Impulses That Underlie Great Poetry In This Sophisticated, Graceful, And Accessible Volume Of Essays Drawn From A Series Of Lectures He Delivered At The Renowned Iowa Writers WorkshopA Little Book On Form Brilliantly Synthesizes Hass S Formidable Gifts As Both A Poet And A Critic And Reflects His Profound Education In The Art Of Poetry Starting With The Exploration Of A Single Line As The Basic Gesture Of A Poem, And Moving Into An Examination Of The Essential Expressive Gestures That Exist Inside Forms, Hass Goes Beyond Approaching Form As A Set Of Traditional Rules That Precede Composition, And Instead Offers Penetrating Insight Into The True Openness And Instinctiveness Of Formal CreationA Little Book On Form Is A Rousing Reexamination Of Our Longest Lasting Mode Of Literature From One Of Our Greatest Living Poets

Robert Hass was born in San Francisco and lives in Berkeley, California, where he teaches at the University of California He served as Poet Laureate of the United States from 1995 to 1997 A MacArthur Fellow and a two time winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award, he has published poems, literary essays, and translations He is married to the poet Brenda Hillman.

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  • Hardcover
  • 464 pages
  • A Little Book on Form
  • Robert Hass
  • 12 January 2019
  • 9780062332424

10 thoughts on “A Little Book on Form

  1. says:

    Do I put this in essays Do I put this in poetry Both And certainly in Finished in 2017, as it will be the last.This book was a bit of a struggle It s big, for one thing Damn near 500 pages And it s not the same as essays on poetry I ve read by, say, Tony Hoagland or Jane Hirshfield, both accomplished in the field.No, as the introduction warns us, this book is based on Robert Hass s lecture notes from teaching at university It reads it, too You get definition of terms You get a little historical background You get snippets of poems and occasionally a full poem as examples And you get Hass s opinions of same.The first five chapters are on stanzas One, Two, Three, Four, and A Note on Numbers After that, the chapters treat on subjects such as Blank Verse, Sonnets, Sestinas, Villanelles, Odes, Elegies, Satires, Georgics, Difficult Forms, Collages and Abstractions and Oulipos and Procedural Poetics Oh, My , Prose Poems, and Free Verse.Meaning, it s a reference book hybrid essay book than the type thing Hoagland and Hirshfield, Inc., excel at Hass is a learned man and all, a guy who might teach you how to scan poetry properly, if that s your thing, but it was all a bit too academic for my tastes 2.5 stars, rounded up for kindness.

  2. says:

    Having read Schmidt s book that covers the work of 50 modern poets my thoughts posted here , I now wanted to read a book to help me understand the art of poetry, so I chose this.This book is divided into two parts, the first is like an intro of the mechanics of poetry Hass, in using examples of poetry and extracts of one to four lines, gets you comfortable about thinking about rhymes and sequences before he launches into the second part the form As I kept reading, I understood this to mean a template, where there are different kinds and have names like Blank Verse, Sonnet and Ode, I give the complete list below.Some parts were harder to grasp than others but I realised how big this subject is and liked how Hass not just tried to explain each form with examples but for some he showed how it developed through the ages to modern times I also found it helpful how through the book he listed further reading sections to help me continue my journey and further my understanding of this art It s the kind of book that invites you to re read parts of it again and again, which I would not hesitate to do as it had a vast example of poets and poetry, some from the East I also found the end chapters helpful detailed examples of prosody, demonstrating how stresses and metering work with a quick run down of some poetry tech terms Overall, I thought it was a good book to start with as a beginner who is interested in this subject Forms included Blank VerseSonnetSestinaVillanelleOdeElegySatireGeorgicProse formsAlso, variable stanzas, difficult forms and mixed forms have a chapter each and discussed in depth.

  3. says:

    I liked this book, especially the concept that form in poetry is about time, not space A four line stanza with breaks makes an interesting pattern on a page but the form is in the short pause after each line, and the longer pauses between stanzas It reads easily, if you like poetry if you don t you probably won t read it unless someone makes you The book is based on notes for a class he taught for people who want to write poetry but don t expect too esoteric an approach He starts with the basics of form, 1, 2, 3, and 4 line poetry, or stanzas One line He thinks haiku could be a one line form that is conventionally presented as three lines in English translation He devotes long chapters to popular forms in English poetry, sonnet, ode, and elegy I don t much like sonnets, so this chapter dragged a little for me The chapter on odes is beautiful, with the high point being a care full reading of an ode by Keats Already with you tender is the night He makes a case that the Four Quartets by Eliot is a series of odes, in part, and that The Wasteland is an elegy without a body In summary, the book presents a lot of information and some wisdom, gracefully and vividly It may be that he does not get too far from the hands on craft that he is a master of.

  4. says:

    The chapter on satire taught me that some of my poems are satires, particularly those written in heroic couplets Apparently, the use of forms is common in satire This was only one of many revelations found within A Little Book on Form, which is not so little at over 400 pages, yet still not exhaustive on the subject The chapter on Reading the Sonnet goes on for 50 pages, packed with examples The author begins with one line in his first chapter, appropriately titled One, stating that it is difficult to write a good line than a good poem He moves on to couplets and the Ghazal with their two line stanzas He then explores terza rima, tercet, triplet and haiku, followed by the quatrain Chapters are devoted devoted to blank verse, free verse, elegy and ode The pantoum is not neglected, nor is the villanelle These words may be unfamiliar in our contemporary world where much of the published poetry is unrhymed free verse and form seems to be forgotten, but familiarity with them will greatly add to the enjoyment of poetry, and even to that of free verse The author has much to say about how form rhyme, rhythm, stanza patterns and unrhymed lines compliment and enhance the content of a poem This is not a book to be read in one stretch, but readers will find that it adds to their reading, writing and enjoyment of poetry.

  5. says:

    Not quite a little book, and not quite the font of revelation I d hoped it would be, either Hass is always interesting, readable and entertaining, and his knowledge of poetry is encyclopedic However, if you re looking for a book that will give you insight into why certain poets break their lines or stanzas the way they do, you re not really going to find that here, because each poem is kind of an ideogram of itself If you re strictly looking for examples of forms, this is a useful handbook But if you re looking for greater insight into lineation and form itself, and what makes a poet decide to move his or her poem a certain way, I didn t find much help here In Hass defense, perhaps that can ONLY be discovered in each particular poet.

  6. says:

    I need a physical version of this, so I can just page through It s a good book It does a great job of taking you through examples of the form, tracing lineage, and showing the vastly different things poets can do Admittedly I skipped over a lot of the further reading material, but I would like to go back to it some afternoon This is the book that helped get me into haiku, and finally make me like Keats view spoiler Wordsworth still sucks though hide spoiler

  7. says:

    This book was adapted from a class that Hass taught As such, it felt like a bit of a slog at times Even so, I was able to read a lot of poetry which was incredible through this large and sometimes boring book.

  8. says:

    Consider the opening quatrain of Emily Dickinson s I cannot live with You I cannot live with You It would be Life And Life is over there Behind the ShelfIts lines alternate between iambic trimeter and iambic bimeter, a shortening of Dickinson s usual alternating iambic tetra and trimeters hymn form There are no end rhymes unless you consider Life and Shelf to be off rhymes Its subject Life is abstract, and there is no imagery or movement until over there Behind the shelf Each of the four lines contains a reference to Life live, Life, Life, and Shelf And its ending couplet lends itself to two diametric interpretations 1 Life there behind the Shelf is over or 2 Life is over there, there behind the Shelf Formally, this quatrain resembles the opening of a poetic argument of a Shakespearean sonnet, but with its lines containing fewer feet, plainer vocabulary, and a destitution of romantic decor, metaphor, and end rhymes End rhymes would evoke unity or synchronicity whereas the subject here is conflict and separation In this way, Dickinson s poetic form performs restraint for us, and it launches into an argument for restraint and separation.Using dozens of examples like the one just described, Robert Hass A Little Book on Form sheds light on how poetic form combines with syntax, prosody, vocabulary, juxtaposition, imagery, rhetoric, metaphors, paradox etc etc to make or break a poem.When I first ordered A Little Book on Form, I expected to receive a little book However, at 447 pages, the book is big, not little It takes the reader on a journey of forms, from one and two line poems to haikus, Victorian medievalism, modernism, blank and free verse, collage, prose poetry and procedural poetics, among others The book is little only in relation to the vast expanse of its subject matter The volume succeeds by being high level and methodical without skimping on specificity and plenty of interesting examples Besides being a Pulitzer Prize winning poet, Hass is a scholar and this book brings you into his master classroom I felt like I was attending his Iowa workshop where I understand Hass once taught this material It seems to be the real deal, and I expect that I will be coming back to this little book again and again.

  9. says:

    I agree wholeheartedly with those reviewers, critics, and Goodreads subscribers who have lavished their praise upon this thrilling book Perhaps every compliment within possibility has already been bestowed I will offer only this idiosyncratic observation the book s subtitle irks me I want to substitute the phrase imagining of for imagination of, because it is we writers, we poets, we human beings who activate the mental imagining of poetry and its vivifying forms.From the perspective of Mr Hass, form is an expressive and dynamic force, The way the poem embodies the energy of the gesture of its making page 3, hardcover edition A poet must nourish his her formal imagination, the intuitions that shape a work of art ibid , by listening attentively to the complex rhythms and pulses of language Mostly they poets listen and record what they are just hearing or have just heard page 113, hardcover edition.Accordingly, I will task myself with listening with listening reverently to the many exemplary poems chosen by Mr Hass for publication within these pages I will read these poems aloud, record my voice, then listen to the recordings In this way, I can transform the immensely significant notes of Mr Hass into my own personal how to write poetry guide, an essential handbook for training my own intuitive imaginings.

  10. says:

    I only skimmed the book over the course a few hours, so this is less a review than notes to myself for when I read it again But read again I most certainly shall, because there is a lot to learn here I originally saw it on a bookstore shelf and picked it up because, while I read and enjoy poetry, I ve never actually studied it, so I thought this might help make up for my lack of college lit classes I was not wrong.The book sprang from the author s notes for a seminar for aspiring poets, and parts retain the feeling of notes, while other sections are fully written out It covers the entire breadth of poetry in the English language, from medieval song through the 21st century It brings in poetry of other languages where it has influenced or inspired poetry in English the odes of Horace, Persian ghazals, Petrarchan sonnets and , but it s definitely not about the poetry of the world It includes poems and fragments from nearly 70 different poets, and suggests reading of many, many I d break the book down into four parts, each of which is several chapters, not always adjacent One part considers lines of poetry, either alone or in groups of two to four, with observations about the relationships between grammatical structures and poetic ones, how stanzas of varying sizes have different effects, and some related forms, including haiku, couplets, blues, terza rima, and the ballad A second part discusses structures such as the sonnet, ghazal, villanelle, as well as blank verse, what the author calls difficult forms, constructed or generated poetry, and that apparent contradiction, prose poetry Another part explores poetic genres , including odes, elegies, satires, etc., none of which are constrained either by meter of stanza structure The final part comprises a few chapters about rhythm, stress, and scanning a poem, and how free verse works I think when I come back to this I ll plan to spend a leisurely year with it, reading a chapter with pencil in hand, then going off to spend time with the suggested readings or at least some of them I know there are other books on poetic form out there the author recommends a couple in his introduction , and I ll probably look them up too What I got out of this first pass tells me that there s a lot to get, and that it will give me the tools to deepen my understanding of, and appreciation for, both the poetry I ve already read, and the poems I ve yet to discover.

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