If you have ever felt mystified by, or unable to enjoy the significance of poetry, this book will lead you step by step to understanding and love of this branch of literature, guided by a gifted poet and teacher. The Art of Poetry is an excellent middle school or high school curriculum; it will teach the practice of reading a poem slowly and carefully, introduce students to the elements of poetry (such as imagery and metaphor) and the many forms that can make a poem, from sonnet to open verse. In the belief that practice is the best way to learn, this book is rich with explications, exercises, and activities. A biography of each poet is also included, and we are providing audio files of many of the poems (linked below).
Excerpt: There has never been a civilization without poetry. From the beginning of time, people have sought to turn their thoughts, feelings, and stories into memorable speech to share with others. Using language, the poet preserves something precious in the world by allowing us to live next to her, to see what she sees, to enter the experience she has built for us with her words and attention to the moment. Poetry acknowledges something deep within our nature – an urge to name, say, sing, grieve, praise, out of our solitariness, to another person. It makes words into a material thing, hard and solid as a table, dense with significance.
-from the Introduction