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Rediscover Poetry

It'll do you good.

In his excellent book, Rhyme’s Rooms: The Architecture of Poetry, Brad Leithauser explains why poetry matters, how it works, and why we should take the time to read it.

This is the best book on reading poetry I have read in years. Leithauser unpacks the art and beauty of verse in a scholarly yet whimsical manner. He illustrates his argument in defense of lyric poetry by appealing to the work of many of the great poets of the past, showing from their work how poetry works and what it promises.

“A poem,” Leithauser writes, “is a compact sonic parade, marching clamorously through the tunnel of the ear canal, an ever-shifting zone of commotion in which the most recent sounds serially dominate.” Poetry must be heard as well as read if we are to appreciate the deep beauty with which it is crafted.

Leithauser leads us through all aspects of lyric verse - meter, rhyme, image, and how all these work together to make poetry the high-water mark of literature. He explains the “architecture” of verse - lines and stanzas - and how they work together to provide the experience of poetry as moving and transforming. He writes, “The message of most poetry, including the greatest poetry, is usually commonplace or even banal. We treasure it not for its what but its how.” That is, the artistry of poetry is what makes it satisfying and memorable, not the message.

If you only read one book about poetry over the next year - or the next five years - read this one. Brad Leithauser will reignite your interest in lyric verse by helping you to discover how pleasing and satisfying the reading and study of poetry can be.

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