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A Little Book on Form An acute and deeply insightful book of essays exploring poetic form and the role of instinct and imagination within form—from former poet laureate Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winning author Robert HassRobert Hass—former poet laureate winner of the National Book Award and recipient of the Pulitzer Prize—illuminates the formal impulses that underlie great poetry in this sophisticated graceful and accessible volume of essays drawn from a series of lectures he delivered at the renowned Iowa Writers’ WorkshopA Little Book on Form brilliantly synthesizes Hass’s formidable gifts as both a poet and a critic and reflects his profound education in the art of poetry Starting with the exploration of a single line as the basic gesture of a poem and moving into an examination of the essential expressive gestures that exist inside forms Hass goes beyond approaching form as a set of traditional rules that precede composition and instead offers penetrating insight into the true openness and instinctiveness of formal creationA Little Book on Form is a rousing reexamination of our longest lasting mode of literature from one of our greatest living poets

  • Hardcover
  • 464 pages
  • A Little Book on Form
  • Robert Hass
  • 11 December 2014
  • 9780062332424

About the Author: Robert Hass

Robert Hass was born in San Francisco and lives in Berkeley California where he teaches at the University of California He served as Poet Laureate of the United States from 1995 to 1997 A MacArthur Fellow and a two time winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award he has published poems literary essays and translations He is married to the poet Brenda Hillman

10 thoughts on “A Little Book on Form

  1. says:

    Do I put this in essays? Do I put this in poetry? Both And certainly in Finished in 2017 as it will be the lastThis book was a bit of a struggle It's big for one thing Damn near 500 pages And it's not the same as essays on poetry I've read by say Tony Hoagland or Jane Hirshfield both accomplished in the fieldNo as the introduction warns us this book is based on Robert Hass's lecture notes from teaching at university It reads it too You get definition of terms You get a little historical background You get snippets of poems and occasionally a full poem as examples And you get Hass's opinions of sameThe first five chapters are on stanzas One Two Three Four and A Note on Numbers After that the chapters treat on subjects such as Blank Verse Sonnets Sestinas Villanelles Odes Elegies Satires Georgics Difficult Forms Collages and Abstractions and Oulipos and Procedural Poetics Oh My Prose Poems and Free VerseMeaning it's a reference book hybrid essay book than the type thing Hoagland and Hirshfield Inc excel at Hass is a learned man and all a guy who might teach you how to scan poetry properly if that's your thing but it was all a bit too academic for my tastes 25 stars rounded up for kindness

  2. says:

    A good rehash for me of a college course Versification that I took with Robert Fitzgerald many years ago in college It contains a lot of examples goes beyond the set forms and meters and provides an excellent history of each

  3. says:

    Having read Schmidt’s book that covers the work of 50 modern poets my thoughts posted here I now wanted to read a book to help me understand the art of poetry so I chose thisThis book is divided into two parts the first is like an intro of the mechanics of poetry Hass in using examples of poetry and extracts of one to four lines gets you comfortable about thinking about rhymes and seuences before he launches into the second part the form As I kept reading I understood this to mean a template where there are different kinds and have names like Blank Verse Sonnet and Ode I give the complete list belowSome parts were harder to grasp than others but I realised how big this subject is and liked how Hass not just tried to explain each form with examples but for some he showed how it developed through the ages to modern times I also found it helpful how through the book he listed further reading sections to help me continue my journey and further my understanding of this art It’s the kind of book that invites you to re read parts of it again and again which I would not hesitate to do as it had a vast example of poets and poetry some from the East I also found the end chapters helpful; detailed examples of prosody demonstrating how stresses and metering work with a uick run down of some poetry tech terms Overall I thought it was a good book to start with as a beginner who is interested in this subject Forms included Blank VerseSonnetSestinaVillanelleOdeElegySatireGeorgicProse formsAlso variable stanzas difficult forms and mixed forms have a chapter each and discussed in depth

  4. says:

    I liked this book especially the concept that form in poetry is about time not space A four line stanza with breaks makes an interesting pattern on a page but the form is in the short pause after each line and the longer pauses between stanzas It reads easily if you like poetry; if you don't you probably won't read it unless someone makes you The book is based on notes for a class he taught for people who want to write poetry but don't expect too esoteric an approach He starts with the basics of form 1 2 3 and 4 line poetry or stanzas One line? He thinks haiku could be a one line form that is conventionally presented as three lines in English translation He devotes long chapters to popular forms in English poetry sonnet ode and elegy I don't much like sonnets so this chapter dragged a little for me The chapter on odes is beautiful with the high point being a care full reading of an ode by Keats Already with you tender is the night He makes a case that the Four uartets by Eliot is a series of odes in part and that The Wasteland is an elegy without a body In summary the book presents a lot of information and some wisdom gracefully and vividly It may be that he does not get too far from the hands on craft that he is a master of

  5. says:

    Not uite a little book and not uite the font of revelation I'd hoped it would be either Hass is always interesting readable and entertaining and his knowledge of poetry is encyclopedic However if you're looking for a book that will give you insight into why certain poets break their lines or stanzas the way they do you're not really going to find that here because each poem is kind of an ideogram of itself If you're strictly looking for examples of forms this is a useful handbook But if you're looking for greater insight into lineation and form itself and what makes a poet decide to move his or her poem a certain way I didn't find much help here In Hass' defense perhaps that can ONLY be discovered in each particular poet

  6. says:

    A mix of poetry uotations from a particular white male canon and dense academic analyses of their style If that's your jam this is your book I got a couple knowledge items out of it but after struggling for months to finish it I uit halfway throughThe Kindle Unlimited page count is misnumbered; it counts to nearly 500 pages at the halfway point where I stopped and the second half is unnumbered A minor formatting error I suppose since eBooks don't really have pages anyway but it affected my reading experience especially given that the book is not a page turner Being told that I am reading 500infinity pages deeply undermines the title of little book

  7. says:

    I need a physical version of this so I can just page through It's a good book It does a great job of taking you through examples of the form tracing lineage and showing the vastly different things poets can do Admittedly I skipped over a lot of the further reading material but I would like to go back to it some afternoon This is the book that helped get me into haiku and finally make me like Keats view spoilerWordsworth still sucks though hide spoiler

  8. says:

    This book was adapted from a class that Hass taught As such it felt like a bit of a slog at times Even so I was able to read a lot of poetry which was incredible through this large and sometimes boring book

  9. says:

    Consider the opening uatrain of Emily Dickinson’s I cannot live with YouI cannot live with You –It would be Life –And Life is over there –Behind the ShelfIts lines alternate between iambic trimeter and iambic bimeter a shortening of Dickinson's usual alternating iambic tetra and trimeters hymn form There are no end rhymes unless you consider Life and Shelf to be off rhymes Its subject Life is abstract and there is no imagery or movement until over there Behind the shelf” Each of the four lines contains a reference to Life live Life Life and Shelf And its ending couplet lends itself to two diametric interpretations 1 Life there behind the Shelf is over; or 2 Life is over there there behind the Shelf Formally this uatrain resembles the opening of a poetic argument of a Shakespearean sonnet but with its lines containing fewer feet plainer vocabulary and a destitution of romantic decor metaphor and end rhymes End rhymes would evoke unity or synchronicity whereas the subject here is conflict and separation In this way Dickinson’s poetic form performs restraint for us and it launches into an argument for restraint and separationUsing dozens of examples like the one just described Robert Hass' A Little Book on Form sheds light on how poetic form combines with syntax prosody vocabulary juxtaposition imagery rhetoric metaphors paradox etc etc to make or break a poemWhen I first ordered A Little Book on Form I expected to receive a “little” book However at 447 pages the book is big not little It takes the reader on a journey of forms from one and two line poems to haikus Victorian medievalism modernism blank and free verse collage prose poetry and procedural poetics among others The book is “little” only in relation to the vast expanse of its subject matter The volume succeeds by being high level and methodical without skimping on specificity and plenty of interesting examples Besides being a Pulitzer Prize winning poet Hass is a scholar and this book brings you into his master classroom I felt like I was attending his Iowa workshop where I understand Hass once taught this material It seems to be the real deal and I expect that I will be coming back to this little book again and again 📓

  10. says:

    I agree wholeheartedly with those reviewers critics and Goodreads subscribers who have lavished their praise upon this thrilling book Perhaps every compliment within possibility has already been bestowed I will offer only this idiosyncratic observation the book's subtitle irks me I want to substitute the phrase imagining of for imagination of because it is we writers we poets we human beings who activate the mental imagining of poetry and its vivifying formsFrom the perspective of Mr Hass form is an expressive and dynamic forceThe way the poem embodies the energy of the gesture of its making page 3 hardcover edition A poet must nourish hisher formal imagination the intuitions that shape a work of art ibid by listening attentively to the complex rhythms and pulses of language Mostly they poets listen and record what they are just hearing or have just heard page 113 hardcover editionAccordingly I will task myself with listening with listening reverently to the many exemplary poems chosen by Mr Hass for publication within these pages I will read these poems aloud record my voice then listen to the recordings In this way I can transform the immensely significant notes of Mr Hass into my own personal how to write poetry guide an essential handbook for training my own intuitive imaginings

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