The Art of Syntax Rhythm of Thought, Rhythm of Song

Art of...

Ellen Bryant Voigt

Graywolf Press




120 Pages



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With intelligence and precision, Ellen Bryant Voigt parses out the deft and alluring shape of poetic language in The Art of Syntax. Through brilliant readings of poems by Bishop, Frost, Kunitz, Lawrence, and others, Voigt examines the signature musical scoring writers deploy to orchestrate meaning. "This structure—this architecture—is the essential drama of the poem's composition," she argues. The Art of Syntax is an indispensable book on the writer's craft by one of America's best and most influential poets and teachers.

The Art of Syntax is part of The Art of series, a line of books by important authors on the craft of writing, edited by Charles Baxter. Each book examines a singular, but often assumed or neglected, issue facing the contemporary writer of fiction, nonfiction, or poetry. The Art of series means to restore the art of criticism while illuminating the art of writing. Of the series, Baxter writes, "The Art of series is meant to restore criticism as an art, with writers examining features of their craft in lively and colorful prose."


Praise for The Art of Syntax

Praise for Ellen Bryant Voigt:

"One of our most acute poetic thinkers."—Edward Hirsch

"Since Randall Jarrell, poets have bemoaned the lack of a true poet-critic, a sensibility at once commonsensical, laconic, and appropriately imaginative. Now we have Ellen Bryant Voigt, who offers Jarrell's combination of wit and gravity—as well as his critical urgency in choosing subjects of scrutiny."—Carol Muske-Dukes

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  • Ellen Bryant Voigt

  • Ellen Bryant Voigt is the author of seven collections of poetry, including Messenger: New and Selected Poems 1976–2006, which was a finalist for the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. She lives in Vermont.