Last month, to honour poetry month, I read James Longenbach’s How Poems Get Made. This is a very readable book that will teach you not only how to dissect a poem but also how to construct one.
Longenbach provides definitions and examples of each element of a poem’s structure. I don’t think I have ever had these elements explained so well. I can see myself using this book again and again when I want to understand a poem better.
As understandable as this book is, I read it twice because I enjoyed the writing so much. Apart from the actual poetry that Longenbach quotes and references, his prose is gentle and measured. Almost without noticing, I learned the elements of poetry.
Listen to this last paragraph and then go and find this wonderful little book for your own reference:
“What does it mean to say that knowledge is free but forever derived? How could knowledge be flowing, happening in the moment of its discovery, but at the same time flown, always having existed prior to the moment of discovery, waiting to happen again? Every lyric poem answers these questions, not with what it says but with its transformative act of saying. This knowledge, lyric knowledge, comes to us in language that is flowing because it has flown.” (Page 152)
(Note: I read the 2018 W. W. Norton and Company edition of this book.)