The Craft of Poetry: A Primer in Verse by Lucy Newlyn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Who would've thought that this city girl would so deeply enjoy a book of pastoral poetry? This collection of poems is a clever work of art that also doubles as an educational tool for poets. Each poem illustrates a particular poetic foundation, figure, technique, form or concept. Rather than boring us with instructional explanations, Newlyn lets her poetry do the talking.
Bursting with vivid imagery, Newlyn's crafty poems serve as a hospitable guide, gently leading the reader through the landscape of her hometown village of Appersett. Newlyn shows us how one place can be seen and then re-seen and then seen all over again from a totally different perspective. Newlyn gave a grandiose life to a place that at first glance would seem small and mundane. There are many lessons between these pages, and they aren't all about how to craft a poem.
Even when I wasn't particularly too fond of a particular poem itself, I appreciated the poem's purpose, which forced me to give it a deeper look than I would've otherwise. I wanted to pick apart exactly what Newlyn was trying to illustrate. I enjoyed the many little "Ahh, I see what you did there!" moments.
Newlyn presents herself not just as teacher but also as mentor. I appreciated the not-so-subtle urgings to the reader to try their hand at certain techniques, to resist hesitation, and to just go ahead and write. By the end of this collection, I wanted to begin taking on the challenge of taking the new tools and techniques that I'd learned to create my own world, to tell my own story.
While I did appreciate the lead-by-example style of the book, I think I might have preferred if there were also brief descriptions for each particular tool. I think it would increase the accessibility of the book as it may not always be convenient to have to look up anything that isn't understood through the poem alone. There were definitely a few concepts that I had to google to better understand.
This collection was quite an undertaking, and it was beautifully, brilliantly done. I can absolutely see myself using it as a reference and a source of inspiration again and again.
Thanks to NetGalley and Lucy Newlyn for the ARC
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