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Language Arts & Disciplines Poetry

How to Read (and Write About) Poetry - Second Edition

by (author) Susan Holbrook

Broadview Press
Initial publish date
Dec 2021
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Dec 2021
    List Price

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How to Read (and Write About) Poetry invites students and others curious about poetry to join the critical conversation about a genre many find a little mystifying, even intimidating. In an accessible, engaging manner, this book introduces the productive questions, reading strategies, literary terms, and secondary research tips that will empower readers to participate in literary analysis. Holbrook explicates a number of poems, initiating readers into critical discourse while highlighting key poetic terms. The explications are followed by selections of related works, so the book thus offers what amounts to a brief anthology, ideal for a poetry unit or introductory class on poetry and poetics. A chapter on meter illuminates the rhythmic dimension of poetry and guides readers through methods of scansion.

The second edition is updated throughout and includes a fresh selection of poems and the latest MLA citation guidance.

About the author

Susan Holbrook's poetry books are the Trillium-nominated Joy Is So Exhausting (Coach House, 2009), Good Egg Bad Seed (Nomados, 2004) and Misled (Red Deer, 1999), which was shortlisted for the Pat Lowther Memorial Award and the Stephan G. Stephansson Award. She lives in Leamington, Ontario, and teaches North American literatures and Creative Writing at the University of Windsor. She is the author of a poetry textbook, Reading (and Writing About) Poetry (Broadview Press, 2015) and co-editor, with Thomas Dilworth, of The Letters of Gertrude Stein and Virgil Thomson: Composition as Conversation (Oxford, 2010).

Susan Holbrook's profile page

Editorial Reviews

“Students need textbooks like this, to show them the range of poetry’s pleasures and to guide them toward becoming better readers and writers. But educators need them too, to provide models for how to present our artform with all the rigour it deserves while still making room for questions, affection, and wit. Susan Holbrook is a wonderful teacher—contemporary, diverse in her tastes, wearing her erudition lightly, and pointing out pathways rather than giving directions. I won’t be the only reader who is grateful to have learned from her.” — Adam Sol, Victoria College, University of Toronto

How to Read (and Write About) Poetry is a consummate guide to the rich, nuanced field of poetry. For nervous novitiates, it demystifies the artform and provides an array of practical points of access. Holbrook is a wonderful, welcoming guide. For more comfortable poetry readers, pedagogues, and poets, this book presents a skilful demonstration of how to talk about poetic language without killing it. Indeed, this is no exegesis as exhumation herein: you will find no dust upon the carefully curated poems chosen from across the field. With language itself as the loamy soil, you can almost feel her bringing the poems alive, until they pulse with life and mystery as she guides readers through their lush wildness.” — Gregory Betts, Brock University

“In this approachable and compelling collection, Susan Holbrook gathers together traditional sonnets and irascible ones, the choicest concrete texts and resounding poems for the ear, the well-wrought urns, and a veritable playground of repetition, apostrophe, enjambment, and metonymy.” — Nicole Markotić, University of Windsor


Other titles by Susan Holbrook