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A Collection of Thoughts on Prosody
Donald Justice; David Koehn, ed.; Alan Soldofsky, ed.; Donald Revell, pref.

2017 • 216 pp. 6 x 9"
Poetry Criticism

$19.95 Paperback, 978-1-63243-032-8

“For those not lucky enough to have been part of the four generations of poets who attended Donald Justice’s legendary “forms” class, Omnidawn has now made it possible for everyone... [continued in Reviews below]”—Jorie Graham,

A collage of essays and metrical samples from one of the great prosody scholars

Justice’s insights serve as a sort of de facto taxonomy, an organically designed system that he uses to present his lecture on each respective aspect of the evolution of poetic form. There is no formal thesis here, but rather a kind of scrapbook that has a broader motive. The material possesses no hidden secrets; the treasures lie in plain sight and simply need be discerned to open the artist’s mind to their possibilities.

Click here for TABLE OF CONTENTS

Reviews / Endorsements

“For those not lucky enough to have been part of the four generations of poets who attended Donald Justice’s legendary “forms” class, Omnidawn has now made it possible for everyone to take a seat at the table. What a blessing it is, via these pages, to sit in that classroom once again. Here are the lessons not only of a poet’s poet, but of a teacher’s teacher. From the astonishing expressivity of the poetic foot, with its magic ability to build an entire voice and vision, to the endless nuances of accentual stress, to the detailed history of such tools—Justice’s understanding of prosody was incomparable. By the time he guides one to the understanding of the architectural movement of a poem, one has entered the whole cathedral of the medium, step by step. Justice’s brilliant musician’s ear, and mastery of the minutest nuances of form, will give any practitioner—at any stage of their writing—the essential tool-kit. No one who sat in his presence ever forgot what he taught, or his understanding of what poetry serves. It is incredible to see it preserved, as in a time capsule, and brought back to us at a moment when perhaps we need it more than ever. Here is one of the few places one can go for the uncompromising rigor, finesse and wisdom that are needed to keep this art form alive.”—Jorie Graham

“Here is a book of prosody that serves not only as a catalogue and history but also, as delineated in David Koehn’s meta-prosody introduction and Donald Revell’s pithy preface, the raison d’etre for deploying particular metrical and non-metrical structures. Compiled from the working course-pack of Donald Justice’s poetry classes, Compendium is a wide- ranging encyclopedia of what was and remains possible in the line, word and syllable.”—Tyrone Williams

“To the art of versification, from chance to traditional methods (which aren’t, after all, that different), both in theory and in practice, Donald Justice brings astonishingly nuanced insight, not opinion. Compared to some of his more pyrrotechnic contemporaries, such as Merrill and Hollander, Justice offers incomparable subtlety, austerity, stoicism, and form as self-effacement.The wealth of quotes and examples from great masters of prosody, provided without comment, indicate literary erudition at its apex. Here is the structure of verse in English—the infinite relativity of sounds and silences that compose the nature of the art.”—James Galvin

“David Koehn’s brilliant, probing introduction about Donald Justice reflects the poet’s intense devotion to poetic innovation rooted in his impressive understanding of the arts, particularly the ideas and music of John Cage.Compendium: A Collection of Thoughts on Prosody satisfies both critics and poets thirsting for an enhanced understanding of the world’s poets and their methods. Justice’s brilliant essays aggressively unveil inscrutable truths without falsifying the enlightening necessity of total immersion in poetic form.”—Sonja James, The Journal

“This unique and fascinating book offers at once a goldmine of insights from one of our great thinkers on prosody, and a poignantly revealing time capsule of American poetics fifty years ago. The range of his prosodic conversation across centuries and his finely-weighted ear for poetry remain perennially vibrant. This book is a must-have for anyone who wants to understand both the roots of contemporary poetics and those aspects of the art of poetry that will never go out of date.”—Annie Finch, author of A Poet's Ear and Spells: New and Selected Poems

DONALD JUSTICE delighted in the constraint of poetic form and the subtleties of meter. A student of Robert Lowell, John Berryman, and Karl Shapiro at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Justice’s students at Iowa, and later at the University of Florida, included Mark Strand, Jorie Graham, James Tate, and Rita Dove. Justice was a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and was offered the position of poet laureate, declining only because of ill health. He received the Lamont Award, the Bollingen Prize, and the Pulitzer Prize.

Thu, 6 Sep 2018 11:46:44 -0500