Cover image for To sound like yourself : essays on poetry
To sound like yourself : essays on poetry
Snodgrass, W. D. (William De Witt), 1926-2009.
First edition.
Publication Information:
Rochester, N.Y. : BOA Editions, [2002]

Physical Description:
243 pages ; 23 cm.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
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Item Holds
PS3537.N32 T6 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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In his first collection of essays on poetry in 27 years, W.D. Snodgrass goes after that seminal quality, the poet's individual voice, that separates the best poetry from the merely technical and pedantic. Beginning with an essay on the poetic impulse, and continuing through prosody and musicality, Snodgrass gives us an essential handbook for poets and poetry readers.

Responsible for the emergence of American confessional poetry, W.D. Snodgrass won the 1960 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for his first book, Heart's Needle. He lives with his wife, critic and translator Kathleen Snodgrass, in Erieville, New York, and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.

Author Notes

Poet W. D. Snodgrass was born on January 5, 1926. After serving as a Navy typist during World War II, he received bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Iowa. With the publication of Heart's Needle (1959) a collection of confessional poetry that won the 1960 Pulitzer Prize, Snodgrass gained immediate fame as one of the best poets to come out of the 1950s. Snodgrass's later poetry is much less directly personal, as he learned to deal with some of the major historical events of his time. His wrote more than 30 books of poetry, criticism and translations including After Experience (1967) and The Fuehrer Bunker (1977). He taught at numerous colleges including Cornell University, Wayne State University and the University of Delaware. He died from lung cancer on January 13, 2009 at the age of 83.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Showing how one can work from "Pulse and Impulse," "Shapes Merging and Emerging" and even "Against Your Beliefs," poet W.D. Snodgrass offers a series of well-tempered how-tos in To Sound Like Yourself: Essays on Poetry. Snodgrass, whose Pulitzer Prize-winning Hearts Needle (1960) remains influential, gives prosodic examples from Whitman, shows how to add just the right amount of acid to parody and gives sound advice on all sorts of syllabic manipulations. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Two new entries in the recent spate of books about poetry delve into that elusive concept, the poet's voice. In To Sound Like Yourself, The Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Snodgrass offers six lengthy essays examining wordplay, musicality, and other elements that contribute to a distinctive voice. He includes lively descriptions of his own sources of inspiration-owls and belly dancers among them-as well as analysis of other poets, from Whitman to Wordsworth. At times, his complex evaluations seem culled from a graduate-level literature course, assuming familiarity with lesser-known writers, a grasp of music notation, and training in other languages. In Coming of Age as a Poet, Vendler, a renowned poetry critic and author, chooses one breakthrough poem by each of four poets-Milton, Keats, Eliot, and Plath. Through close readings of their structure, imagery, and scansion, she shows how these poems mark each poet's mastery of a unique voice. Three of the four chapters are based on lectures given at the University of Aberdeen. The clarity and expert analysis of all four poems could engage even a casual reader, while the breadth of scholarship and unique interpretations will appeal to more experienced poetry readers. Vendler's work is highly recommended for public and academic libraries, while Snodgrass's work is more appropriate for large university libraries.-Vivian Reed, California State Univ., Long Beach (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Pulse and Impulse
I. Good Gray Poets and Great Horned Owlsp. 11
II. Apple Trees and Belly Dancersp. 20
Against Your Beliefsp. 31
Shapes Merging and Emergingp. 51
Disgracing Are Verse: Sense, Censors, Nonsense and Extrasensory Deceptionsp. 77
I. Codes, Hums and Punsp. 77
II. The High Art of Mistranslationp. 91
III. Dialects, Babblings, Stylesp. 110
Whitman's Selfsongp. 131
I. Dilemma and Doctrinep. 131
II. Structurep. 140
III. Synergy and Syntacticsp. 149
IV. Line and Rhythmp. 157
V. Conclusionsp. 170
Meter, Music, Meaningp. 173
I. Rhythms in Stress Meterp. 176
II. Rhythms in Syllabic Meterp. 196
III. Rhythms in Syllabic-Stress Meterp. 206
Acknowledgmentsp. 233
About the Authorp. 235
Indexp. 236
Colophonp. 244