Poetry, arguably, has a greater range of conceptual meaning than perhaps any other term in English. At the most basic level everyone can recognize it - it is a kind of literature that uses special linguistic devices of organization and expression for aesthetic effect.
However, far grander claims have been made for poetry than this - such as Shelley's that the poets "are the unacknowledged legislators of the world," and that poetry is "a higher truth."
In this Very Short Introduction, Bernard O'Donoghue provides a fascinating look at the many different forms of writing which have been called "poetry" - from the Greeks to the present day. As well as questioning what poetry is, he asks what poetry is for, and considers contemporary debates on its value. Is there a universality to poetry? And does it have a duty of public utility and responsibility?
- David A. Hippchen
Not an intro to poetry, perhaps a history?
Snooty nonsensical ramblings hour after hour, not an introduction to poetry but rather a brief history of a series of quotes about poetey. Waste of time and money.
- Earth Lover
Excellent Reflections on Poetry
This book could be much longer. But then it wouldn't be "very short." In any case, it's very engaging and thought-provoking.
This is not a history of poetry, and contains few extended samples, It focuses on lit-crit topics such as:
- What is Poetry - what makes something a poem?
- How does it function? What is it "good for"?
- Are there rules? Are they only made to be broken? Are there special "poetic" uses of language?
- What does it mean to be "true to nature"?
I will return to this book for the questions and thoughts it provokes.