PN Review Print and Online Poetry Magazine
News and Notes
Digital Access to PN Review
Access the latest issues, plus back issues of PN Review with Exact Editions For PN Review subscribers: to access the PN Review digital archive via the Exact Editions app Exactly or the Exact Editions website, you will first need to know your PN Review ID number. read more
PN Review Prize winners announced
Carcanet Press and PN Review are delighted to announce the winners of the first ever PN Review Prize. read more
Most Read... Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
Drew MilneTom Raworth’s Writing
‘present past improved’: Tom Raworth’s Writing

(PN Review 236)
Rebecca WattsThe Cult of the Noble Amateur
(PN Review 239)
Alejandro Fernandez-OsorioPomace (trans. James Womack)
(PN Review 236)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Kei MillerIn the Shadow of Derek Walcott
1930–2017

(PN Review 235)
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
Gratis Ad 1
Gratis Ad 2
Next Issue Peter Scupham at 85: a celebration Contributions by Anne Stevenson, Robert Wells, Peter Davidson, Lawrence Sail

This review is taken from PN Review 209, Volume 39 Number 3, January - February 2013.

Small Nouns Crying Faith michael heller, This Constellation Is A Name: Collected Poems 1965-2010 (Nightboat Books) $22.95
michael heller, Speaking the Estranged: Essays on the Work of George Oppen Shearsman Books) £10.95

How should one prepare to be a poet? What should your line on adjectives be? Can their function be usurped entirely by verbs? What role does the image play? What rhythms should you compose by, the metronome's or that of the musical phrase? And why should the copula be avoided in any tightly written verse?

These look like preliminary questions, and yet you could search hard through the plethora of books on how to write poetry these days to find them addressed with anything like coherence. They were certainly all addressed in the movement known as Imagism, and in the writings of its most vigorous exponent, Ezra Pound. Pound was a born pedagogue. Gertrude Stein captured this side of him with affectionate exasperation: 'There is something of the village explainer about Ezra. If you are a village, fine. If not, not.'

Pound took many of his cues from Ernest Fenollosa, whose study of Chinese verse led him to some radical conclusions about its English equivalent. And so we get the famous formulations. The image should be directly presented. Not a single unnecessary word should be employed. All vague, post-symbolist phrasing is to be outlawed. Pound explained why 'The misty lands of peace' is a terrible line. His analysis was shrewd and pithy, and surely as relevant now as it was then. Self-regarding emotionalism, and the ceaseless caressing of one's tremulous sensibilities, followed inevitably by yet one more lyric rehearsal of sincerity: this is the sort ...


Searching, please wait... animated waiting image