Friday, May 25, 2012

Book Beginnings: Meinke's The Shape of Poetry

"Since this book first appeared in 1999, the millennium arrived, and we elected Barack Obama, a president who not only enjoys poetry, but has serious poet friends, one of whom, Elizabeth Alexander, read at his inauguration. As I write this, our country's enmeshed in a nasty recession and a mean-minded political struggle for the nation's soul. However it turns out, I urge you all--even you rare hermits who actually live in garrets--to participate and bear witness. Poets are citizens, too."

I chose this passage from the introduction to Peter Meinke's wonderful book, The Shape of Poetry, rather than the actual beginning of the book, because everything about it serves notice that this isn't your usual poetry book.

Now that I'm a little further in, I keep asking myself why Meinke isn't better known. He's a master of the formalist's art and more than that, he's a great teacher.

Maybe a lot of folks aren't interested in his deconstruction of older, more complex forms like the villanelle and the sestina, which are brilliantly displayed here, shining like cut glass. But for any poetry geek, this is good stuff.

Want more of this? Check out Book Beginnings every Friday at Rose City Reader, where bookish folks share and riff on the first sentence (or so) of what they're reading.


  1. That statement is a great beginning and a wonderful comment on our society. Here is my post (it is just a fun read). Book Beginnings

  2. It sounds really good, and interesting. I am definitely reading this one, thanks for posting about it!! :) Hop on over if you have the time:
    Juli @ Universe in Words

  3. Awesome beginning, and so timely! Thanks for sharing....


  4. That's a great beginning...and now I'm very intrigued!

    Here's my @ Book Beginnings Post.

  5. Just what are "serious poet friends"? Do I get to count you as one? I hope so! Also, my neighbor writes poetry and has several books of it published. But he wrote a poem about going to Starbucks, so is he not serious enough?

    Thanks for posting to Book Beginnings!

  6. That's a great beginning! Here are my Friday Memes.

  7. Rose, I'm not sure what "serious poet friends" are -- perhaps the rest of the book will reveal that.

    Just attended a poetry workshop with this author and he says poetry can be about anything, BUT the best poems reveal their secrets over time. So I think he would say that a poem about Starbucks should also have something else going on, something below the surface.

    Am I a serious poet? Nah, not yet. :-)

    But I am having fun with the Book Beginnings meme! Great idea!

  8. Thanks for visiting and commenting, everyone! Is this a great meme or what?!


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