The Poem's Heartbeat: A Manual of Prosody

Alfred Corn

Prosody—the art and science of poetic meter—is the very foundation of writing and reading poetry. Treatments on the subject are often overly technical (and drier than dust), so poet and educator Alfred Corn set out to write one that would be informative and engaging. “What’s really needed,” notes Corn in his preface, “is a study that assumes no knowledge of meter on the part of the reader but then provides accurate information.” In ten progressive chapters he covers everything from the basics of line and stress and metrical variation to phonic echo and unmetered poetry. The Poem’s Heartbeat provides an appendix of sample scansions, an index of terms, a bibliography, and abundant examples of poems—from Shakespeare’s time to the present day—that illustrate concepts such as slant rhyme and iambic pentameter. The Poem’s Heartbeat: A Manual of Prosody is an indispensable guide for poets, readers, students, and teachers.

ISBN: 9781556592812

Format: Paperback

About the Author

Alfred Corn has published eleven books of poems, most recently Unions (2014) and two novels, most recently Miranda’s Book, which also appeared in 2014. His three collections of essays are The Metamorphoses of Metaphor, Atlas: Selected Essays: 1989–2007, and Arks & Covenants. He received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, and awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the Academy of American Poets. He has taught at Yale, Columbia, the University …

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The Poem’s Heartbeat may well be the finest general book available on prosody.” —Library Journal, starred review

“A provocative, definitive manual.” —Publishers Weekly

“This book shatters stereotypes equating the study of prosody with poetry boot camp and instead introduces the fine art of versification. By the book’s end, Corn, magi-teacher and impeccable guide, has taught the novice to become artist and magician, wielding stress and syllable to spark ‘intuitive and technical lightning-flashes’ and a ‘depth charge of insight’ that leave the dreary formal footsteps of tradition far behind.” —Boston Review

“Unlike many prosody handbooks, The Poem’s Heartbeat is written in a narrative format, almost like a conversation between the writer and the reader—not dry and crusty like a textbook… This is a superb book.” —Rain Taxi