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Having reviewed over 1100 books on this blog, I have now written one myself. Motherdarling is a story about a search for a missing Will which reveals long-hidden family secrets. It is available on Kindle through Amazon. Read it and find out whether this critic can write. I live in Canterbury, England. I lived for more than thirty years in Bedford. Having retired from teaching; I became a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Liminality. I achieved my PhD in 2019. I am now properly retired. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. Follow me on twitter: @daja57

Friday, 9 September 2016

"The Ode Less Travelled" by Stephen Fry

Having loaned this book to my mate Fred, I thought I had better re-read it.

With his usual verbal brilliance and Wildean asides, Fry dissects the techniques and forms of poetry from Chaucer to Dylan Thomas, from Europe to Indonesia. He explains metre (iambs, trochees, dactyls and the less usual forms), stanzas, liners and feet (trimeter, tetrameter, pentameter, Alexandrine etc) and techniques such as enjambment, caesuras, and trochaic substitutions etc. He explains rhymes which should be "natural, transparent, seamless, discreet and unforced", and slant rhymes, and their patterns such as cross rhyming and envelope rhyming.

Then he goes through the forms. Well! I knew the sonnet. I had heard of odes and ballads but I didn't really know what they were. He explains, and this is not an exhaustive list, the ballad, anglo-saxon styles, Dante's terza rima, rubai, Spenserian stanza, Heroic verse, Sapphic, Pindaric, Horatian, and lyric odes, anacreontics, villanelles, sestinas, pantoums, ballades (NOT the same as ballads!), rondeaus and rondea redoubles, haikus, tankas, luc bats, limericks, clerihews, and the variants of sonnets. Each of these Fry illustrates with a poem of his own, as well as judiciously picked 'real' poems (did you know that 'Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night' by Dylan Thomas was a villanelle?), while exhorting you to READ ALOUD and do poetry exercises.

I felt so ignorant.
BUT

It made me want to read and write poetry. 

September 2016; 327 pages

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