The Puzzle of Poetry
  • Publication Date: March 13, 2020
  • ISBN: 9781554814824 / 1554814820
  • 280 pages; 6" x 9"

Note on pricing.

Ebook will also be available for purchase upon publication.

Exam Copy

Availability: Canada & the US

The Puzzle of Poetry

  • Publication Date: March 13, 2020
  • ISBN: 9781554814824 / 1554814820
  • 280 pages; 6" x 9"

The Puzzle of Poetry offers students a readable, reliable guide to understanding poetry. Instead of carving poems up into their elements, The Puzzle of Poetry describes how experienced readers of poems go about understanding them. Each line, sentence, or syntactical unit in a poem is a clue to the “puzzle.” As with crossword puzzles, figuring out the answer to one clue can help you figure out the answer to others. This book teaches the reader to check what they know in a poem against what else they know to find meaning, a systematic but creative approach that can help language to come alive.

Each chapter is a lively and personal discussion of an element of poetry, and a short guide to writing about poetry is included. Varied examples of poetry are provided throughout, from Anglo-Saxon verse to Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jay-Z.

  • 1. Why Read Poetry?
  • 2. Whitman’s Specialty: How to Solve the Puzzle of Poetry
  • 3. How to Read a Poem
  • 4. The Play of Language
  • 5. “No Ideas Except in Things”: The Image in Poetry
  • 6. “Shorter than Leprechauns”: Figurative Language in Poetry
  • 7. “Not This Pig”: Who Speaks in Poems?
  • 8. “Listen, My Children, and You Shall Hear”: Sound in Poetry I
  • 9. “Listen, My Children, and You Shall Hear”: Sound in Poetry II
  • 10. Fret Not at Narrow Rooms: How to Read a Sonnet
  • 11. “The Dancer from the Dance”: Form and Content in Poems
  • 12. Evaluating Poetry
  • 13. Thirteen Ways of Writing about Poetry
  • 14. Appendix: Stanzas and Forms
  • 15. Coda: Imaginary Gardens with Real Toads in Them

John Marsh is Associate Professor of English at Pennsylvania State University.

  • • Presents an original and distinctive theory of reading and understanding poetry
  • • Has a personal, poetic, and beautifully crafted writing style (with a bit of humor)
  • • Provides varied and unexpected poetic examples throughout