Singing School: Learning to Write (and Read) Poetry by Studying with the Masters (Paperback)

Singing School: Learning to Write (and Read) Poetry by Studying with the Masters By Robert Pinsky Cover Image
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“Magnificent . . . poems to inspire [with] brief and brilliant, offhand notes about how to read them.”—Alan Cheuse, NPR

Quick, joyful, and playfully astringent, with surprising comparisons and examples, this collection takes an unconventional approach to the art of poetry. Instead of rules, theories, or recipes, Singing School emphasizes ways to learn from great work: studying magnificent, monumentally enduring poems and how they are made— in terms borrowed from the “singing school” of William Butler Yeats’s “Sailing to Byzantium.”

Robert Pinsky’s headnotes for each of the 80 poems and his brief introductions to each section take a writer’s view of specific works: William Carlos Williams’s “Fine Work with Pitch and Copper” for intense verbal music; Emily Dickinson’s “Because I Could Not Stop for Death” for wild imagination in matter-of-fact language; Robert Southwell’s “The Burning Babe” for surrealist aplomb; Wallace Stevens’s “The House Was Quiet and the World Was Calm” for subtlety in meter. Included are poems by Aphra Behn, Allen Ginsberg, George Herbert, John Keats, Mina Loy, Thomas Nashe, and many other master poets.

This anthology respects poetry’s mysteries in two senses of the word: techniques of craft and strokes of the inexplicable.

About the Author

Robert Pinsky is the author of numerous books of poetry, including the Pulitzer Prize finalist The Figured Wheel, and prose, including The Sounds of Poetry. He served as United States Poet Laureate from 1997 to 2000, during which time he founded the Favorite Poem Project. He has edited several anthologies, most recently The Book of Poetry for Hard Times. Pinsky teaches at Boston University and lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Praise For…

The latest in what has become a Pinsky pedagogical legacy.
. . . By paying deep attention to these masters, the poet
becomes a poet, through ‘the particular work’ of listening.
— Huffington Post

Sparkling. . . . Pinsky has selected a tremendously fresh and
exciting variety of salient poems. . . . This stimulating and
creative guide will intrigue and enlighten everyone interested
in poetry.
— Booklist

Singing School is nothing like the usual anthology of safe and sane selections. Instead, it is a gathering of poetry designed to stimulate the young and startle the old practitioner, with a surprise around every corner. . . . A book that will instruct and charm every reader.

— Alicia Ostriker
Product Details
ISBN: 9780393348972
ISBN-10: 0393348970
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Publication Date: July 28th, 2014
Pages: 240
Language: English