The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics, 4th edition

Roland Green and associates have done a tremendous job in revising Terry Brogan’s and Alex Preminger’s magisterial 3d edition of this classic work. It’s a vast compendium of poetic lore, terminology, technique, and history with an astutely chosen set of contributors. At 1664 pages, I am still cruising the book and wishing I had the  digital edition as well. This is a work to dip into at any page for a wealth of detailed and often absorbingly arcane information. PEPP is up to date, with entries for new poetic developments right up to the present (yes, Lavinia, Conceptual poetry, Kootenay school, and Flarf have entries, along with my own précis on “absorption,” and new entries on antropofagia, codework, cognitive poetics, Xul, Sanskrit poetry, and many more). The index alone is worth the price of admission. Here is “F” from the topical index (available on-line): 

fractal verse
Frankfurt school
frottola and barzelletta
furor poeticus

As a kid (and as the kid I still am) I read through dictionaries and encyclopedias, a to z; this book holds that same kind of transfixing fascination.It also shows how new encyclopaedias (I prefer that spelling) can remain relevant in the wake of Wiki. Each of the entries is signed and bears the stamp of its author. While scholarly and descriptive in tone, the book has a thousand different points of view of what poetry is and how it works, hundreds of contradictory, or at least competing, programs.  As with the best compendia of odd facts and magical formulae, the wild swerve from one entry to the next offers delight upon delight.



I wrote this for Lemon Hound's December feature of recommended books.