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Which poetry dictionaries and handbooks are best? (1 Viewer)

petergrimes

Senior Member
Hello

I read in the 'Poetry in a nutshell' post by RHPeat, that it may well be a good idea for myself to purchase a poetry dictionary and a poetry handbook. Do any of the kind people of the forum have any recommendations as to which ones I should buy? I'm from the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, so ones written in American English might not be ideal (although I do not know, it may make not one bit of difference). Or is the internet an able substitute? Is there a combined book that serves just as well as two? Personally I think I'd like my own copies (I quite like books), so any recommendations would be much appreciated.

Thank you kindly, petergrimes
 

clark

Met3 Member
Staff member
Chief Mentor
As Tim says, by all means ask Ron.

I can absolutely recommend MH ABrams' ​A Glossary of Literary Terms -- This gem was first published in the 1957 and has gone thru 7 reprints and extensive updates in the intervening 63 years, making it STILL one of the best general reference books around. Find it here:

https://mthoyibi.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/a-glossary-of-literary-terms-7th-ed_m-h-abrams-1999.pdf

To my surprise, the entire book (333 pages) seems to be available online! Abrams was an American professor teaching at Cornell. I would NOT be concerned about his nationality. The principles of criticism are the same on both sides of the big pond, except for some spellings and very occasional bit of usage. The book is FREE online and cheap Used thu Amazon.
 

RHPeat

Met3 Group Leader
Staff member
Senior Mentor
As Tim says, by all means ask Ron.

I can absolutely recommend MH ABrams' ​A Glossary of Literary Terms -- This gem was first published in the 1957 and has gone thru 7 reprints and extensive updates in the intervening 63 years, making it STILL one of the best general reference books around. Find it here:

https://mthoyibi.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/a-glossary-of-literary-terms-7th-ed_m-h-abrams-1999.pdf

To my surprise, the entire book (333 pages) seems to be available online! Abrams was an American professor teaching at Cornell. I would NOT be concerned about his nationality. The principles of criticism are the same on both sides of the big pond, except for some spellings and very occasional bit of usage. The book is FREE online and cheap Used thu Amazon.

Peter

Clark has you on the right book, which is outstanding. You might find it on Amazon. I'll offer you more. If you know someone in the states that going to college they might find some of these other books in used book stores or when the colleges are changing semesters or quarters. Barns and Noble will reprint books out of print as well. If you have them over there.

1. Yes "A Glossary of Literary Terms" third edition by MH Abrams is tops with a lot of great insights, just to browse through, as well as study.
2. Another great poetry dictionary would be John Drury's "The Poetry Dictionary." It is very contemporary, and includes a lot of history as well. concerning forms, sonnets' etc. The works.
4. The old standby handbook on poetry in the US is: Babette Deutsch's "Poetry Handbook." It's wonderful book, I picked mine up at a yardsale about 40 years ago for a Buck and a quarter. It's holding up quite well with all my wear and tear on it. along with some clear packing tape over the binding for reinforcement.
5. Another Handbook for the beginner might be the "Unbroken Line, Writing in the Lineage of Poetry" by Miriam Sagan.

Second Hand text books. That might be found in large cities & towns used by collages and universities can be found in paper back form for required English classes.
A.) Sound and Sense, An Introduction to Poetry by Laurence Perrine. is a great text book, with great poetry in the back.
........................Besides offering exercises on the subject of each chapter
........................it also gives 105 pages of poems, most pages have more than one poem. By well known and historical important poets.
B.) Poetry and Experience, By Archibald MacLeish Is a fantastic text book used at Yale University at one time, with great poetry in the back by four major poets.
........................1. The Private World: Poems by Emily Dickinson
........................2. The Public World: Poems by Yeats
........................3. The Anti-World: Poems by Rimbaud
........................4. The Arable World: Poems by Keats
C.) Another text to consider, used in universities that can be found in used book stores or yard sales is "Poetry is for People" Edited by McDonough & Doster

Rhyming dictionaries should have listings for different numbers of syllables:Like for 1 syllable words, 2 syllable words, 3 syllable words, and 4 syllable words, You can use online dictionaries but they are not going to be as productive.

If you can come by an unabridged dictionary is nice to have; they are a great source of information. I picked up one at a library book sale for 3 dollars. I bet it cost 2 or 3 hundred new. A bit dog eared. But the words are all there.

The Thesaurus is helpful on a word search along with a very good college dictionary. Doesn't it nag you when you have a feeling for the word that you can't remember it at all. Sometimes you have the word with the opposite meaning. Get a dictionary of antonyms and synonyms together on the same page. I have other books I find useful as well. Build yourself a poetry library. I have my own.

a poet friend
RH Peat
 
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petergrimes

Senior Member
Hi guys, thanks for your help,
hi TL yes my original thought was indeed to message RH, but I thought the poetry mentors probably had enough to do. So I thought I'd throw it open to the community. Well that didn't quite work to plan, for I've managed to drag three of you into it! Best laid plans, at least the advice is now down on this thread, so when the next pandemic hits and someone like me falls into poetry, its all down here. Thank you all for your help.

clark nice to meet you, thank you, that's brilliant, it's great it's free and I am ordinarily very pro-thrift (I lived in Yorkshire for three year) but I'll certainly look online for a used copy also. Thanks for the help and advice and at least I can look through it whilst I'm waiting to get my grubby hands on a copy (most excellent of you to post the link). Cheers PG

Hello Ron, well met. Thank you for going out of your way to write such a comprehensive, useful and detailed list of recommendations - with all the excellent advice on how best to procure them at a reasonable price. It is more than appreciated. I'll ferret around the t'internet and see what's what. I think I'll just get a couple at first - that best fulfil my current requirements, then branch out further once I have a handle on them. You've been extremely helpful. More than helpful, much appreciated. Thank you kindly, all the best PG
 

RHPeat

Met3 Group Leader
Staff member
Senior Mentor
Peter

After you find how helpful these books are for the new comer; you will be on the lookout in the future when you see old books for sale. Many times, required text, books get tossed, yet they are still full of that information to educate yourself. Go for it, for sure it will help in your deeper understanding of what you want to accomplish. Remember that a book is only a beginning point. The creative process calls on you to use it as a form of adventure into greater knowing and understanding. Plus you have more to critique with in the forums as well. Definitely continue to workshop your writing. It is very valuable. For the dialogue becomes deeper concerning each piece you write due to what you are teaching yourself about the craft. A little bit can go a very long ways on the journal's endeavors toward better writing. I have my eye on you now, because I know your interest is very high. I think Clark would agree with me there. We truly like people who have that willingness to find every notch in the doorframe just to measure up. My best to you in finding some good books in your longing to improve yourself as a writer. The knowledge is out there if the seeker is looking deep enough into the dark woods. You might find some old college text books over there that I've never heard about at all. Clue me in when you find them.

a poet friend
RH Peat
 

clark

Met3 Member
Staff member
Chief Mentor
Peter -- i would add: critiquing your fellow poet's work is an invaluable aid to your own poetic journey, if you form one firm resolve--to always back up the opinions you express with clear references to the poem at issue. The text, the title, the line length, the imagery, the rhythm, the stanza lengths--you do not need a technical vocabulary, for example, to express an opinion about a particular image, let us say. It moved you deeply. . .but don't stop there. Look in yourself and ask WHY? Write it down. Help the poet understand in as subjective terms as you wish why youi think you reacted as you did. As time goes on, perhaps you will find some technical language helpful. Not now? Don't worry about it. Baby steps. I have had excellent critiques from young poets who barely know a 'poem' from a 'meop', but they love poetry, know what works for them in a poem, and set out to express 'why this works here, for them, but that image over there doesn't work for them, and here's why.' Will you make mistakes? Of course you will. We're all here to pick each other up when we fall on our faces . . .
 

petergrimes

Senior Member
Hi RH and Clark,
sorry for the lateness of my reply, I've bought a cricket game and its monopolising all of my time (playing the Ashes). I'll PM you both within the next couple of days depending on how long it takes to bowl the Aussies out. I've got them 84 - 4 so it might be short, but having said that I had them 57 - 6 in the first innings of the last Test and then Cummings and Paine put on a 350 plus partnership. Anyways, that probably A - means nowt to you and B - is also of no interest to thee whatsoever, so I'll leave it at that.

All the best and thanks for everything, much appreciated PG
 

Bloggsworth

WF Veterans
I bought a rhyming dictionary, no idea where it is; I bought several books about how to write poetry, hardly read a page; looked at my thesaurus in 1997 - Clearly they should not be set aside lightly (Insert Dorothy Parker here...)
 

clark

Met3 Member
Staff member
Chief Mentor
If I found a book called How To Write Poetry ​I would shove it so deeply into that place where the sun never shines, it would morph into a permanent albino
 

Pulse

Staff member
Senior Mentor
Ruth Padel's 52 Ways of Looking at a Poem has a comprehensive glossary of poetic terms. She spent a year submitting a poem a week to one of the Sunday papers.
 

TL Murphy

Met3 Member
Staff member
Chief Mentor
Peter, I found both of these books very helpful and enjoyable top read as well: “The Making of a Poem” by Evan Boland and Mark Strand; “The Shape of a Poem” by Peter Meinke
 

petergrimes

Senior Member
Katrina and Tim - cheers guys thanks. That's very helpful and very much appreciated. I did get a handbook a few months back (by John Lennard) but thought I'd lost it in. Your messages encouraged me to look again and i've found it. Which is great, cheers (I thought it was big and purple but its small and blue). Cheers guys its much appreciated. I will most certainly check them out. Cheers PG
 
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