Cover Image: The Craft of Poetry

The Craft of Poetry

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Member Reviews

What a brilliant concept and how masterfully and playfully executed. A complete range of the poetry styles, techniques, and approaches explained entirely in verse. So you can learn from, get acquainted with, and more deeply understand all of them while enjoying the poetry itself.

I can imagine this book to become a must-have for students and avid writers/readers of poetry, because it will serve as a unique supplement to the already existing theoretical books. 

However, for a newbie like me this wasn't as enjoyable and educational a read as I hoped and expected. There are no explanations whatsoever on the actual meaning of each technique, style, approach...I was supposed to be led by the verse and feel/understand the flow, the meaning, etc. 
This was just too confusing for me and I didn't want to Google them every single time. I know the author left this out on purpose, but again: for a newbie to poetry like myself this was a bit frustrating.

A generous 3,5 stars.

ARC provided by Netgalley
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A guide to the art and craft of poetry written entirely in verse, which makes such absolute sense that you wonder why no one ever thought of it before. It makes so much sense and is easier to understand some of the rules of poetic rhythms, cadence, style when reading poems written in those ways. In addition some of the poems words do even more to describe the various poetic style they are illustrating. Very clever and innovative way of understanding poetry. 

With thanks to the publisher and Net galley for an Arc in exchange for a review.
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Written entirely in verse, this handbook shows rather than tells us how to write poetry. Divided into five sections, Newlyn covers poetry foundations, figures, techniques, forms, and concepts. The poems take the reader on a journey, walking us through a village in North Yorkshire and exploring its beauty while demonstrating an incredible range of techniques. The result is an original, absorbing, and accessible guide that also stands on its own as an enchanting poetry collection.
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There's autological, and there's autological times a few thousand.  Any creative writing teacher worth their salt could easily compile a poetry lesson - "here's a sestina, this is what a Clerihew needs" - and lead by others' examples.  This book turns every instruction needed in a poetry guide into verse, and strong verse at that, and also sticks indelibly to writing about one particular stretch of Yorkshire waterway the author knew as a child.  It clearly goes further than many a poetry curriculum might – but is the effort worth it?

The book is definitely set out like a course of poetry lessons.  We start with the groundings, looking at form, line-length, rhythm and rhyme, initially all in blank verse (except for the latter of course), and yet everything is almost a stand-alone poem showing us the different crossings over the water, and the landscape thereabouts.  Figurative speech is held back to look at individually in the second lesson, and here the book might potentially lose a few.  But I liked that what we needed was to get a bit of homework done of our own, and that the poems showing metonymy, synecdoche and so on were just giving a poetic essence of those figures of speech.  Until we get to lesson three and the different styles of feet and stress, the writing seems to pull back from avowedly showing us what it's subject is ('Alliteration' does not constantly, interminably use it/self), for it always has that secondary purpose of building our knowledge of that Yorkshire landscape and its characters.  Or is that third purpose, for not only do we get the example in every poem here, but a kind of tutorial hand on shoulder to show us what it feels like to use these techniques.

That tutorial hand is what makes this so memorable.  It speaks to a second-person 'you' to posit the reader at the waterside, and more often than not the successful completion of a line, verse or poem by us is equated to having crossed the beck, going from the side of the empty page to the side where a bit of art may lie.  It's also what makes something simple like 'Omission' be such a thoughtful guide, and immensely greater as fourteen lines than being just one definition on a page of many.  Every potential poetic structure, from haiku up to epic (minus the teacher's favourite, the acrostic) is featured, before the advanced pupils get to further considerations, of mood, tone and intent.  And it all wraps up to being just the most joyously engaging lesson imaginable.  (For one thing, no other poetry lesson has had me scouring google earth to see whereof it's talking.)  So don't pass the chance of buying this by, and never assume to go finding this in a charity shop.  "It will need the air to turn blue" indeed.  No, this one's a keeper.
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In the beck of my hand, between finger and thumb
the kindle rests; the moment has come. 

On the page you see new lines laid out:
Lucy Newlyn is dispelling doubts.
The curtain lifting, we read on

Across the ocean of enjambment
And the seas, you are a
poet who wished they knew it. 
Here are Ken and Agnes, Lucy and Beck;

I'm a loser baby, so why don't you thrill me?
Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita
I found myself in a sunlit dell, 
a brook beckoned me to cross a bridge
whereon was etched Anna 4 Rick/Lee.
I crossed, not once, but again and again and again.

And on the bridge's other side, a Yorkshire lass,
who knows as well the Cotswold airs, was waiting. 
The map she brought, a welcome guide. 
Each ordnance survey sign, she singled out 
and showed me: water, viaduct, hill and dale,
lines, ways, turns, rhymes and footpaths.

You could lose yourself in this, she said, be careful.
Take it easy as you go, and take your time. 
The way is hard to see, but don't you worry,
I'll stay with you for now until you're fine. 
I breathed in deep and felt myself in good hands. 
She smiled and turned, then started on her way.
I smiled and started off on mine as well
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This marvellous, innovative guide to poetry will leave you wondering why nobody else has thought to write such a book before. I've read a few poetry guides over the years and while they've nearly all provided me with useful technical information concerning the composition or appreciation of poetry, few have stayed with me as satisfying reading experiences in their own right. With The Craft of Poetry, Lucy Newlyn has written an enjoyable, playful volume of poetry that reveals its machinery while it entertains. This is an enriching book for both readers and writers.

She begins with a memory, of time spent on the banks of a stream, and then returns to this place over and over again in poems that employ an array of techniques and forms. The scope of the book is huge: there are poems that define common poetic terms (metaphor, allegory, ballad, tone) and poems for terms much less familiar (polysemy, virelay, aubade, anacoluthon). But the explorations of craft here are never dry, we engage with the concepts while reading image-rich, skilful poems that remain a pleasure to read. The book that came to my mind was Queneau's masterpiece Exercises in Style (a book Newlyn mentions in her afterword), but that was a work of prose, I can't recall coming across any work similar in relation to poetry. 

I received an advanced copy in e-format in return for an honest review, but I will be seeking out a hard copy upon release (I see I've made 34 highlights in the e-book on my first reading); this is a book I will return to. The Craft of Poetry will be a great tool for writers looking for inspiration, readers of poetry who want a deeper understand of how good poetry casts its spell on us, and for any teachers of writing/English.
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I think it is well done- explaining each aspect of poetry through a poem.

However, as someone very new to poetry (like, I don't read poetry at all), I was hoping to get excited about it, but I didn't. Not my cup of tea, but that is my own fault.

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This collection of nature poems has a fascinating concept: it's a book that teaches you how to read it as it goes.

The poems are grouped under sections such as foundations, figures, techniques, and form. I love the poems on onomatopoeia and metrical feet, which I can see being used to teach the concepts very effectively in classrooms - part of the poet’s stated intent.

It does help if you have some understanding of the poems’ headings (which include Chiasmic Rhyme and Archaism) to get the full appreciation of what they’re trying to do, but for learning and illumination on the techniques of poetry, they’re really useful, and the poetry is accessible even if you’ve got no interest in learning the difference between symbol and allegory.
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It was a brave move from Author/Poet Lucy Newlyn to structure ‘The Craft of Poetry’ as a collection of poetry styles linked to together by a meander through a village in North Yorkshire but the final result is a well connected and excellent introduction to poetry in all it's forms.

This is the sort of book that would make an excellent addition to any poetry curriculum, course or reading group allowing the reader to obtain an understanding of differing poetry styles while opening up paths to discover more about individual styles that appeal to the reader.

The author mentions in the introduction that they hope to:

“… build a bridge between academic and practical methods … introduce and exemplify key poetic figures, techniques, forms and concepts.”

A goal that is well achieved throughout the book.

Highly recommended for anyone as both an introduction to the form or as a reference example of poetry forms.
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Listen, as you slosh and and splash around,
to the lap-lap-lapping of a river-sound:
the purest expression of your purest wish.” (Onomatopoeia).

 Lucy Newlyn’s The Craft of Poetry presents an innovative and enjoyable way of communicating the several ways in which poetry works – how it can present a new way of seeing the world through the skilful deployment of techniques that create joy, thoughtfulness, meditation and empathy with others; through the making new of the commonplace, enabling a re-seeing of the ordinary, poetry creates a second universe of the improbable and the seeming impossible, a place where anything can happen.

Principles of working in verse are shown (not told) in this book; the crafting of meaning from methods like synecdoche, and parallelism are demonstrated in Newlyn’s own verses that originate, she explains, in the valley of the Widdale, North Yorkshire, ‘a winding stream in which I used to paddle, wade and swim’.

This is very much a teacher’s book and that is meant as a compliment – I can imagine using it in my classes.  Personification, for instance, is explicated through a poem which begins,

The trees are always trees, but sometimes
you make them beseeching hands, lifted in prayer
or offering gifts, sometimes falling or tangled hair.

This says it all – no amount of explanation can beat this pithy demonstration – ‘you make them’ is precise, communicative and accurate.

I strongly recommend this book to all readers.  Even if poetry is not your “thing”, there is plenty of interest in how a writer in full command of her subject, gets it across on the page.
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This was a clever, interesting and accessible book covering the various components of poetry. It is spilt into 5 parts - foundations, figures, techniques and concepts. 

This isn’t your average poetry craft book, instead each concept is told through a poem, introducing you to each one, allowing you to get a small glimpse as it what it’s about. 

I loved this - there were no massive blocks of paragraphs and no complicated explanations of what they were about. It’s perfect for anyone starting our writing poetry or even for someone who is interested in a fresh take on the world of crafting poetry.
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