The Architecture of Poetry by Brad Leithauser. Knopf, $28 (368p) ISBN 978-0-525655-05-3


Brad Leithauser. Knopf, $28 (368p) ISBN 978-0-525655-05-3

Rhyme’s Rooms: The Architecture of Poetry

Poet and novelist Leithauser (The Promise of Elsewhere) brilliantly elucidates poetry for “the reader who loves words and literature, but maybe feels some trepidation… on confronting a poem on a page.” He maintains that a society’s literary health can be gauged by the vigor of its poetry and those who read it, and explores the craftwork of several poets, playwrights, and songwriters. In doing so, he delineates the building blocks of poetry, such as stanzas, meter, and rhyme, along the way tracing the internal rhymes in Robert Frost’s work; calling Shakespeare’s blank verse “stately yet pliable, solid without being stolid”; and extolling Stephen Sondheim as “Byron’s progeny.” Leithauser facilitates a deep appreciation of the craft without slipping into academic jargon, and his own prose is lyrical, as when he describes a poem as “a compact sonic parade, marching clamorously through the tunnel of the ear canal, an ever-shifting zone of commotion in which the most recent sounds serially dominate.” His writing is a joy to read, as is his message that poetry can benefit one’s mind—the first message of all poems, he writes, is to “slow down.” Readers ready to discover the power of poetry need look no further. (Feb.)





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