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The Art of Syntax

Rhythm of Thought, Rhythm of Song
Ellen Bryant Voigt

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.

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A virtuosic discussion by Ellen Bryant Voigt on the ways poets order words to create artful effects on the music and meaning of language

About the Author

Ellen Bryant Voigt
Credit: Barry Goldstein
Ellen Bryant Voigt is the author of The Art of Syntax and 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 is also the author of a collection of essays on poetry, The Flexible Lyric. She founded and teaches in the MFA program for writers at Warren Wilson College, and lives in Vermont.
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  • "[Voigt] writes clearly and succicntly, even though her topic is. . . . complex and. . . . challenging to the average reader."—The Georgia Review
  • "A worthwhile book on craft."—Cerise Press
  • “[Voigt is] 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


This book is made possible through a partnership with the College of St. Benedict, in honor of the legacy of S. Mariella Gable, a distinguished teacher at the College, and by the generosity of Graywolf Press donors like you.
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