A critic, author, translator, and former Poet Laureate of the United States, Pinsky is one of America's most active advocates for the art, craft, and ongoing tradition of poetry. In this book, writing plainly and specifically—that is, for general readers as well as for poets and students of all levels—he explains in detail how the various sounds of poetry embody the work of art that is "performed" in us when we read it aloud.
The Sounds of Poetry devotes clear, erudite, and informative chapters to the sonic (or "technological") elements of verse itself: accent and duration, syntax and line, rhythm and diction, like and unlike sounds, and blank verse and free verse. Pinsky illustrates these with examples from the work of some fifty English-speaking poets—from Shakespeare, Milton, and Emily Dickinson to William Carlos Williams, Wallace Stevens, Robert Frost, Elizabeth Bishop, Louise Glock, C. K. Williams, and Frank Bidart.
As one reviewer noted in The Atlantic Monthly, this guide is an "authoritative yet accessible introduction to the tools of the poet's trade [that] can be read with profit by the serious student and the amateur alike."