A collection of playfully elucidating essays to help reluctant poetry readers become well-versed in verse
Developed from Adam Sol’s popular blog, How a Poem Moves is a collection of 35 short essays that walks readers through an array of contemporary poems. Sol is a dynamic teacher, and in these essays, he has captured the humor and engaging intelligence for which he is known in the classroom. With a breezy style, Sol delivers essays that are perfect for a quick read or to be grouped together as a curriculum.
Though How a Poem Moves is not a textbook, it demonstrates poetry’s range and pleasures through encounters with individual poems that span traditions, techniques, and ambitions. This illuminating book is for readers who are afraid they “don’t get” poetry but who believe that, with a welcoming guide, they might conquer their fear and cultivate a new appreciation.
Poet and professor Sol examines the work of 35 contemporary poets, in the process creating a valuable guide for the uninitiated to reading poetry. Some selections are modern iterations of classic forms, including a ghazal by Rahat Kurd, an ode by Ross Gay, and a sonnet by Don Paterson. Most, however, are free verse, but of varied meter, rhythm, and structure. Sol explores Richard Siken's "Dots Everywhere," an examination of art, perception, and the creative impulse, and Marilyn Dumont's "How to Make Pemmican," a plea for readers to educate themselves about indigenous cultures disguised as a recipe. He notes Jennifer L. Knox's use of humor to temper serious subject matter, "high-wiring the balance between raucous comedy and searing tragedy," and Oliver Bendorf's manipulation of readers' gender identity expectations in the remarkably clever "Queer Facts About Vegetables." Going beyond the question of what poems mean, Sol investigates how they work how they elicit emotion, provide or withhold information, and construct memorable images. His selections, largely derived from his time as a juror for the 2015 Griffin Poetry Prize, tend toward the relatively lesser-known, making this survey equally worthwhile for beginners who can learn from Sol's instruction and for more seasoned readers who will delight in the new discoveries contained within.