Page extent: 120
ISBN: 9781849430852
Binding: HardBack

On Poetry

Glyn Maxwell

HardBack (02 May 2012)

'The most compelling, original, charismatic and poetic guide to poetry that I can remember.  A handbook written from the heart by one of the true modern masters of the craft.' Simon Armitage

A collection of short essays and reflections on poetry from the acclaimed British poet Glyn Maxwell. These essays illustrate Maxwell’s poetic philosophy, that the greatest verse arises from a harmony of mind and body, and that poetic forms originate in human necessities – breath, heartbeat, footstep, posture. He speaks of his inspirations, his models, and takes us inside the strange world of the Creative Writing Class, where four young hopefuls grapple with love, sex, cheap wine and hard work. With examples from canonical poets, this is a beautiful, accessible guide to the most ancient and sublime of the realms of literature.

Additional Information

ISBN13 9781849430852
Binding HardBack
Page Extent 120


'It really is a tremendously good book, and should be read by anyone who writes poetry and anyone who's interested in how and why poetry is written… this is the best book about poetry I've ever read' Adam Newey, Guardian

'Glyn Maxwell’s 'On Poetry', on the execution and philosophy of the art, is probably going to be a modern classic' The Spectator

'A cogent, engaging, elegantly structured, and, at times, inspiring account and defence of the poet’s art and calling.' Times Literary Review

'There are a handful of books about writing that I count among my indispensible texts: by Guy Davenport, Randall Jarrell, Durs Grünbein, Keats, Pound, Brodsky, Virginia Woolf, Fanny Burney, Eliot. I knew on about page two that this book was one of them' Katy Evans-Bush, Poetry Review

'Emergent or fledged, formalist or free, you should buy this book to encounterits beautifully put argument. I've given away two copies already, but am holding tight to my third.' Poetry London

'There are certain books which transcend their status as collections of words on paper (or quantum splodges in e-space) and, like kaleidoscopes, benignly shatter and transform their reader's perspectives.  With these books, one is sent on extraordinary journeys of thought, perception and experience, and one's soul is tinged with enduring magic. This is very much the case for me with one of last year's surprise literary best-sellers, On Poetry by Glyn Maxwell' David Birkett

'A wee gem of a book, essential reading for anyone who reads or writes poetry.' Alan Spence, The Scotsman

'It is funny, original, and doesn’t presuppose expertise on the part of the reader. It is the best book on reading and writing poetry for a general audience that I have ever read.' Australian Book Review

‘Defiantly and exhilaratingly poetic… I like the urgency and stringency of Maxwell’s advice, and it should be useful to students coming to a poem, providing a set of keys to allow them entry… If the book is witty, and occasionally glib, it’s also profound… Arguing with this book is part of the joy of it: it’s provocative and opinionated and personal and urgent; by turns good-humored and intemperate; and full of earned advice on the writing and reading of poems.’ Nick Laird, The New York Review of Books

‘Glyn Maxwell’s effusive little book On Poetry is one of the best guides I have ever read to the greatest and most intimidating of all the literary forms. Maxwell is himself a poet and he wears his expertise confidently but casually. He takes on daunting, recondite concepts and elucidates them stylishly and personably, in the same spirit by which Roger Fry demystified the Post-Impressionists and Julia Child universalized the Quiche Lorraine… On Poetry…navigates a welcoming middle path between hidebound tradition and the free-for-all of formlessness. It reminds us that although only a select few are called to be Poets, reading, writing, and loving poetry is for anyone.’ Sam Sacks, Open Letters Monthly

'This wonderful new book by respected poet and dramatist Maxwell presents an inspiring how-to as well as a strong defense of poetry as a craft. The work reads as a prose poem in celebration of poetry… With an eye for how the poet brings life to words on a page, the author guides the reader through the importance of form and sound, thus teaching how a poem breathes. Each of the six chapters explicates a different poetic element…with a clarity of vision and delightful examples sure to engage poets, readers, and writers alike… Maxwell’s intelligent, conversational approach is exhilarating in its openness and breathtaking in its insight into the art of writing poems; a highly recommended book for all readers, teachers, and students of poetry.' Herman Sutter, Library Journal

'A playful, challenging, provocative, and always surprising explication of the formal elements of poetry… [Maxwell] provides new ways of seeing the formal dimensions of poetry, whether canonical examples, his own works, or fresh-out-of-the-writing-workshop exercises… Required reading for anyone genuinely interested in contemporary poetry.' M. F. McClure, Choice

'A wry, learned, immensely helpful running commentary on teaching young poets to write.' Rachel Hadas

'What’s particularly delightful here is the author’s pleasure in skewering the lazy standards and attitudes of the day. Passionate and witty, it takes the young writer to the heart of the matter.' J.D. McClatchy