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Poems, Poets, Poetry: An Introduction and Anthology

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- An introduction to poetry by a renowned critic and teacher. Recognized internationally as one of America's greatest literary critics, Helen Vendler is a frequent reviewer of poetry for The New Yorker and The New York Review of Books. Poems, Poets, Poetry reflects her teaching to thousands of undergraduates in the core poetry course that she has taught at Harvard since 19 - An introduction to poetry by a renowned critic and teacher. Recognized internationally as one of America's greatest literary critics, Helen Vendler is a frequent reviewer of poetry for The New Yorker and The New York Review of Books. Poems, Poets, Poetry reflects her teaching to thousands of undergraduates in the core poetry course that she has taught at Harvard since 1981. - An innovative approach to reading and writing about poetry. Part One begins with a unique demonstration: Vendler first reads a dozen poems to show how they represent life events, then rereads the same dozen poems to reveal how poets use language to transform those events into memorable art. The author devotes the rest of the text to unfolding poetry's layers: formal, thematic, linguistic, lyric, social, historical, and evaluative. To illustrate this, Vendler examines 65 poems, and provides prompts to help students read 106 others. Two new chapters in Part Two illuminate ways to think and write about both individual works and groups of poems. - An ample and diverse anthology of 268 poems by 128 poets. Spanning eight centuries of English-language poetry, the anthology in Part Three offers a broad choice of canonical and contemporary selections that includes one of the most extensive collections of multicultural American poetry available in an introductory text.


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- An introduction to poetry by a renowned critic and teacher. Recognized internationally as one of America's greatest literary critics, Helen Vendler is a frequent reviewer of poetry for The New Yorker and The New York Review of Books. Poems, Poets, Poetry reflects her teaching to thousands of undergraduates in the core poetry course that she has taught at Harvard since 19 - An introduction to poetry by a renowned critic and teacher. Recognized internationally as one of America's greatest literary critics, Helen Vendler is a frequent reviewer of poetry for The New Yorker and The New York Review of Books. Poems, Poets, Poetry reflects her teaching to thousands of undergraduates in the core poetry course that she has taught at Harvard since 1981. - An innovative approach to reading and writing about poetry. Part One begins with a unique demonstration: Vendler first reads a dozen poems to show how they represent life events, then rereads the same dozen poems to reveal how poets use language to transform those events into memorable art. The author devotes the rest of the text to unfolding poetry's layers: formal, thematic, linguistic, lyric, social, historical, and evaluative. To illustrate this, Vendler examines 65 poems, and provides prompts to help students read 106 others. Two new chapters in Part Two illuminate ways to think and write about both individual works and groups of poems. - An ample and diverse anthology of 268 poems by 128 poets. Spanning eight centuries of English-language poetry, the anthology in Part Three offers a broad choice of canonical and contemporary selections that includes one of the most extensive collections of multicultural American poetry available in an introductory text.

30 review for Poems, Poets, Poetry: An Introduction and Anthology

  1. 5 out of 5

    kaelan

    Vendler’s introduction is intended for novices; but her sagacious and analytic approach manages to achieve accessibility without forfeiting depth. Each chapter explains a particular way of looking at a poem—whether as an arranged life, or as an exploration of language, and so on. And then, after you're armed with a toolbox of interpretive techniques, Vendler pits you against a truly marvelous selection of poems. For anyone who is literary-minded, but whose knowledge of poetry is lacking, this int Vendler’s introduction is intended for novices; but her sagacious and analytic approach manages to achieve accessibility without forfeiting depth. Each chapter explains a particular way of looking at a poem—whether as an arranged life, or as an exploration of language, and so on. And then, after you're armed with a toolbox of interpretive techniques, Vendler pits you against a truly marvelous selection of poems. For anyone who is literary-minded, but whose knowledge of poetry is lacking, this introduction will be indispensable.

  2. 5 out of 5

    David Stephens

    “Reality is a cliche from which we escape by metaphor.” It didn't take me long while reading Helen Vendler's introduction to poetry to remember this quote from Wallace Stevens, as so much of the best poetry deals with the flouting of conventions and the subverting of cliches. Perhaps the formulaic thinking of greeting cards is necessary at times, but what seems to me even more necessary and fascinating are the new metaphors created and explored by poetry. (There's no way any baby-related greetin “Reality is a cliche from which we escape by metaphor.” It didn't take me long while reading Helen Vendler's introduction to poetry to remember this quote from Wallace Stevens, as so much of the best poetry deals with the flouting of conventions and the subverting of cliches. Perhaps the formulaic thinking of greeting cards is necessary at times, but what seems to me even more necessary and fascinating are the new metaphors created and explored by poetry. (There's no way any baby-related greeting cards could top William Blake's "Infant Sorrow.") Poetry can deny the quotidian activities and occurrences of life that seem to cycle through interminably while at the same time, provide an escape through a multitude of options that is limited only by the poet's imagination. As Vendler makes clear, these options don't necessarily involve overthrowing traditional aspects of living. They could also include variations of literary themes or formats or choosing to characterize a moment of life differently. Since art is an arrangement of life, poets have an unlimited range as to how they piece together and present that moment they have pulled from its temporal progress. They can stick to one tone or image or present the progression of a series of tones or images. They can use a well-worn rhythmic pattern ironically or slightly altered to fit a different topic. They can vary verb tenses, agencies, or grammatical structures. They can select a wide array of spacial or temporal arrangements for the setting. And, Vendler does a great job breaking down all of these intricacies that poets have available. She not only explains them one at a time, but she circles back to hit on similar techniques several times throughout the book using different poems. This may sound repetitive, but she explains the technique differently each time; so, if it didn't quite make sense the first time (or even if it did), then it makes a little more sense the next time. She instills in readers the most important questions they should be asking and makes it clear that they should be asking every question they can come up with, including why certain things are excluded. The book covers a broad range of topics outside of what I've already mentioned as well. It explains how poems arise from either private events (birthdays, deaths) or public events (war, ceremonies). It apprises readers how the narrator can be partially based on the poet or entirely fictionalized and how much of that narrator's past can be shown in limited amounts of space. It shows how well poetry can be tied to social movements or ethnic characteristics or confront moral dilemmas. On top of all this, it contains an impressive anthology of poetry that will leave plenty to read and analyze for a long time to come.

  3. 5 out of 5

    John

    Helen Vendler is a longtime literary critic, writer, and professor of poetry. This very voluminous book is part of the introductory to poetry class she teaches at Harvard. It is an excellent and straightforward and wide-casting look at poetry. The book solely concentrates on the poems themselves. You don’t need to know the background or historical period of a particular poet. All you need is the poem on the page accompanied by Professor Vendler illuminating narratives on the poem. A book for som Helen Vendler is a longtime literary critic, writer, and professor of poetry. This very voluminous book is part of the introductory to poetry class she teaches at Harvard. It is an excellent and straightforward and wide-casting look at poetry. The book solely concentrates on the poems themselves. You don’t need to know the background or historical period of a particular poet. All you need is the poem on the page accompanied by Professor Vendler illuminating narratives on the poem. A book for someone starting out with poetry, but very much helpful for those familiar with poetry but wishing to take a deeper look and have a clearer understanding of what poems do.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    This is, by far, the best textbook on the subject that I've seen. And it's not just for undergrads; I still haven't fully absorbed all her insights. But the book still gets only four stars, because Vendler doesn't say much about the intuitive and emotional aspect of poetry. Granted, that might be hard to speak of in a textbook, but it's still necessary to try. Poetry isn't just about words; there is something else present, and without that something else there is no poetry. This is, by far, the best textbook on the subject that I've seen. And it's not just for undergrads; I still haven't fully absorbed all her insights. But the book still gets only four stars, because Vendler doesn't say much about the intuitive and emotional aspect of poetry. Granted, that might be hard to speak of in a textbook, but it's still necessary to try. Poetry isn't just about words; there is something else present, and without that something else there is no poetry.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Eileen

    i feel that this textbook is a guide on how to completely and totally destroy and annihilate of a work of poetry. it turns the analysis of poetry into a science and takes interpretation way too far, thus unravelling everything to poem originally stood for and making it into some sort of mathematical equation. i'm temporarily scarred--it will take me a little bit to like poetry again. >:[ on the other hand, it has a good anthology in the back so that's how it got it's second star. i feel that this textbook is a guide on how to completely and totally destroy and annihilate of a work of poetry. it turns the analysis of poetry into a science and takes interpretation way too far, thus unravelling everything to poem originally stood for and making it into some sort of mathematical equation. i'm temporarily scarred--it will take me a little bit to like poetry again. >:[ on the other hand, it has a good anthology in the back so that's how it got it's second star.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ashleigh

    A very good introduction to poetry. Gives readers the basic tools and frame of reference needed to begin understanding and developing their own interpretations of poetry in general. I read this in a class as a college freshman, and it was through that class that I truly developed my appreciation for poetry--and this book was definitely part of the process.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    This is an intelligent and detailed look at how to understand and talk about poetry, with lots of solid suggestions for making poetry less formidable. I came to new insights about familiar poems and feel better prepared to talk about poetry with my students. Highly recommended for teachers.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    Assigned for an Intro to Writing Poetry course in college. We didn't use it much, and I haven't felt compelled to go back to it since. Assigned for an Intro to Writing Poetry course in college. We didn't use it much, and I haven't felt compelled to go back to it since.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Melissa White

    Using this for my ENLT class this semester. And more intro to poetry classes.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Katherine

    Just can't stand the rules that go along with poetry, and this anthology is chalk full of rules. Arhjgdhfgjsdf. Just can't stand the rules that go along with poetry, and this anthology is chalk full of rules. Arhjgdhfgjsdf.

  11. 5 out of 5

    D Liu

    Though I have only read the first four chapters (and that is probably the most I will read unless Mr. Zeoli assigns more) I appreciate Vendler's wisdom and insight on Poetry. Her dedication and passion towards her craft is demonstrated through something Mr. Zeoli said in class one day when we were discussing Vendler (and his literary crush on her): She memorized all of Shakespeare's sonnets (of which there are 154. 126 are addressed to a young man, and the other 28 towards a woman). To be cont.. Though I have only read the first four chapters (and that is probably the most I will read unless Mr. Zeoli assigns more) I appreciate Vendler's wisdom and insight on Poetry. Her dedication and passion towards her craft is demonstrated through something Mr. Zeoli said in class one day when we were discussing Vendler (and his literary crush on her): She memorized all of Shakespeare's sonnets (of which there are 154. 126 are addressed to a young man, and the other 28 towards a woman). To be cont..

  12. 5 out of 5

    Claire

    I did finish this eventually! Overall, an interesting textbook. Good variety and choice of poems to study, although not every analysis was equal; some were way too scholarly for a novice (or, reader of poetry who has no interest in scholarly analysis--i.e., many of us). I learned a lot about the scholarly and literary side of poetic discourse, though, and for that I am grateful. It is why I read the book, after all. (Not just for all the wonderful cummings and William Carlos Williams pieces!)

  13. 5 out of 5

    Thomfrost

    I have yet to go through the anthology at the end of the book, but the first part is excellent. It isn't hard to see why Vender is widely considered one of the most important critics of her generation. I have yet to go through the anthology at the end of the book, but the first part is excellent. It isn't hard to see why Vender is widely considered one of the most important critics of her generation.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Zo

    Some of the sections are overly simplistic, others are really rewarding. The selection of poems is great, and provided me with a bunch of poets to check out. Overall this was a good intro and helpful, but a little bit lower level than I would have liked.

  15. 5 out of 5

    David Humphreys

    A better than average intro to poetry textbook.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kelly D.

    Poetry is hit and miss for me, but this book has a wide selection.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    The text is excellent, 5 stars. I didn't care for the anthology. The text is excellent, 5 stars. I didn't care for the anthology.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Penninga

    Perfect anthology to build up a poetry unit. I loved the analysis points and instructional guides to understand poetry better. I still like Mary Oliver’s better, however!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Humphrey

    Helen Vendler makes poetry comprehendible and enjoyable. First of all, she covers all the major structural terminology, which is convenient. On top of that, she provides useful strategies for breaking down and examining poems. Yes, it's a style of New Criticism and thereby likely to be criticized for destroying the ‘aura’ of the poem, or something. Personally, however, I enjoy the approach of examining why/how a piece of work makes you feel a certain way; an understanding of the relation between Helen Vendler makes poetry comprehendible and enjoyable. First of all, she covers all the major structural terminology, which is convenient. On top of that, she provides useful strategies for breaking down and examining poems. Yes, it's a style of New Criticism and thereby likely to be criticized for destroying the ‘aura’ of the poem, or something. Personally, however, I enjoy the approach of examining why/how a piece of work makes you feel a certain way; an understanding of the relation between a work's form and content heightens my sense of appreciation. Recommended to anyone who has wanted to give poetry a try but doesn’t know how to begin. I had read a couple chapters of this for class this past fall, and so I finished up what hadn't been assigned in the main portion (though not the writing about poetry section) as well as the useful appendices. I haven't finished going through the anthology section yet, but I've finished Vendler's text proper.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Natalie Tyler

    Vendler's genius is in the way she talks about poetry and the way she works through poems. This is a fantastic book for anyone who wants to become a better reader of poetry. If you want to engage in a deeper, more introspective and thoroughly insightful relationship with poetry, this is a great book. So many people resist poetry because they want it to be thoroughly available in one reading; working at learning how to interpret poetry is one of the most richly rewarding enterprises I can think o Vendler's genius is in the way she talks about poetry and the way she works through poems. This is a fantastic book for anyone who wants to become a better reader of poetry. If you want to engage in a deeper, more introspective and thoroughly insightful relationship with poetry, this is a great book. So many people resist poetry because they want it to be thoroughly available in one reading; working at learning how to interpret poetry is one of the most richly rewarding enterprises I can think of and this book is a superb "vade mecum". I give it five stars for the way Vendler tries to open up a relationship with her readers; certainly I lamented the lack of many a great poem, but you cannot have everything.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

    I read this book with Helen Vendler during a NEH institute at Harvard in 2008. It would take a small book to review this textbook in a way that might pay it justice. Suffice it to say that Dr. Vendler, the "grande dame" of American poetry, suffuses each poem she treats with power and a grace that commands the reader to pay better attention to the poem, the poet, and the act of creation itself. Had we all the good fortune of learning to read poetry from Dr. Vendler, the place of poetry in our soc I read this book with Helen Vendler during a NEH institute at Harvard in 2008. It would take a small book to review this textbook in a way that might pay it justice. Suffice it to say that Dr. Vendler, the "grande dame" of American poetry, suffuses each poem she treats with power and a grace that commands the reader to pay better attention to the poem, the poet, and the act of creation itself. Had we all the good fortune of learning to read poetry from Dr. Vendler, the place of poetry in our society--and perhaps literacy itself--would be in a far better state.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Lindsay Edwardson

    I think that this book would be helpful in any high school English class during a poetry unit. It provides information on various aspects of poetry and it also provides a large variety of poems. Each part is broken up into different sections, such as poetic kinds, narrative versus lyric, and content genres. It is a really long anthology, so I could only see certain sections being used during the unit.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kelly Barry

    Vendler does a great job of deconstructing poems. However, it should only be read for the purpose of practicing deconstructing different poems and poets. I personally skipped to the anthology in the back when my class was done, as it is a great anthology. Recommended for literary theory scholars and students, particularly those into comparing Old styles with more Modern styles. Only complaint: Only ONE poem by Edgar Allen Poe in the anthology!!!!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Joshua Stephen

    Probably the foremost authority in teaching poetry, Vendler's book is a must for those studying poetry. While poetry for most is a prose expression with revolving rhyme schemes, Vendler goes into expert detail on the craft of the genre and the many tools used by poets to master the art. If you are writing or thinking about writing poetry, do yourself a huge favor and read this book. It will change the way you understand the art. Probably the foremost authority in teaching poetry, Vendler's book is a must for those studying poetry. While poetry for most is a prose expression with revolving rhyme schemes, Vendler goes into expert detail on the craft of the genre and the many tools used by poets to master the art. If you are writing or thinking about writing poetry, do yourself a huge favor and read this book. It will change the way you understand the art.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Helm-Ropelato

    I've been reading Helen Vendler's books for years and she never disappoints great expectations. With this book, Vendler offers an opportunity to eavesdrop, so to speak, on the undergrad poetry class she teaches to the privileged creatures attending Harvard. It's a textbook, yes, but for those passionate about poetry, what could be better? I've been reading Helen Vendler's books for years and she never disappoints great expectations. With this book, Vendler offers an opportunity to eavesdrop, so to speak, on the undergrad poetry class she teaches to the privileged creatures attending Harvard. It's a textbook, yes, but for those passionate about poetry, what could be better?

  26. 5 out of 5

    Vanessa

    Poems, Poets, and Poetry contained many of my favorite pieces of poetry. This collection of poetry I read for a class, however, the class and the book changed my life. Literary works such as Vendlers Poetry collection will be "go-to" poems I read my entire life for pleasure. I find myself talking and sharing some of these works of hers 6 years later. Poems, Poets, and Poetry contained many of my favorite pieces of poetry. This collection of poetry I read for a class, however, the class and the book changed my life. Literary works such as Vendlers Poetry collection will be "go-to" poems I read my entire life for pleasure. I find myself talking and sharing some of these works of hers 6 years later.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Hannah Berg

    Helen, the strange but astute critic, is forever in our hearts (or, for M, forever an object of hatred). Always gratitude to G for leading us through this one, and showing me how to talk about lyric's nuts and bolts...And grateful to Vendler for this pretty good, easy-to-use manual to the magic engine parts that allow us to be charioted away on the (otherwise) viewless wings of poesy. Helen, the strange but astute critic, is forever in our hearts (or, for M, forever an object of hatred). Always gratitude to G for leading us through this one, and showing me how to talk about lyric's nuts and bolts...And grateful to Vendler for this pretty good, easy-to-use manual to the magic engine parts that allow us to be charioted away on the (otherwise) viewless wings of poesy.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Stacia

    A textbook for a writing class I took in college, I found this at my mom's and have been making notes in it so I can use it with my students this fall. The anthology is awesome. Explanations of devices are authenticated with interesting examples. It's a really good guide! A textbook for a writing class I took in college, I found this at my mom's and have been making notes in it so I can use it with my students this fall. The anthology is awesome. Explanations of devices are authenticated with interesting examples. It's a really good guide!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Alyssa

    Wonderful resource for any high shool/college student seeking to better uderstand the complex and beautiful conventions of poetry; for that matter, a wonderful addition to any adult's home library who seeks to do the same. Wonderful resource for any high shool/college student seeking to better uderstand the complex and beautiful conventions of poetry; for that matter, a wonderful addition to any adult's home library who seeks to do the same.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Melissa Engberg

    This is my absolute favorite anthology, ad it's a really fabulous textbook. Have used it as both a student and a teacher, and would recommend it to anyone teaching poetry, teaching creative writing, or just looking for a good anthology and book on prosidy! This is my absolute favorite anthology, ad it's a really fabulous textbook. Have used it as both a student and a teacher, and would recommend it to anyone teaching poetry, teaching creative writing, or just looking for a good anthology and book on prosidy!

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