World Poetry Criticism

Poetry, as a means of creative expression, predates the written word. Poems in various forms were recited and later written around the world in service of conveying messages and describing the human experience. Historically, religion and aspects of culture have inspired poetry. Scholars speculate that the repetition, rhythms, and rhyming associated with poems allowed for easier memorization of messages relayed only through oral traditions. The development of alphabets and written language provided the ability to preserve poetry. Fragments of poems have been found on various artifacts, including commemorative stone carvings, left behind by numerous cultures.

Poems through the centuries have taken on a wide variety of forms and have focused on innumerable themes from odes venerating objects to depictions of everyday behaviors to emotions, especially those associated with fear, grief, and love. The ancient Sumerian poet Enheduanna, the archaic Greek poet Sappho—both female—the Islamic mystic Rumi, and the Italian poet Dante (Alighieri) all predate the time of William Shakespeare and the proliferation of poetry that survives in the English language. Also before Shakespeare, the anonymous epic poem Beowulf, set in ancient Scandinavia, and Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales serve as poetry milestones during the evolution of the English language.

Poetry allows for deeper insight into very particular aspects of specific cultures but can also focus on universal human experiences that reach across cultures and time. Different countries and cultures have contributed various styles, approaches, and forms to the craft from the Irish limerick to Japanese haiku to the English sonnet.

In the increasingly connected world of the twentieth century, poets like Pablo Neruda of Chile, Jacques Prévert of France, and Shu Ting (pen name of Gong Peiyu) of China became internationally known for their contributions to poetry in their native languages. While nothing replaces reading a poem in the language in which it was written, translators work hard to convey the rhythms, emotions, and messages of poems from other cultures when introducing work to non-native readers.

Poets today have the advantage of any number of paths to creating their works—from adhering to traditional forms to mixing various poetic elements to innovating new approaches. Additionally, a significant number of poets blend languages to depict the experiences of people with mixed heritage or to bring new insights into how language itself plays a role in facilitating or complicating interactions between humans.

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World Poetry Criticism Resources

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  • Essential Literary Genres: Poetry, 1st Edition

    Essential Literary Genres: Poetry, 1st Edition

    Essential Library   |   2017   |   ISBN-13: 9781624023064

    This title examines the genre of poetry in the works of William Shakespeare, Rafael Campo, Robert Browning, Emily Dickinson, Yuko Taniguchi, Langston Hughes, and Gwendolyn Bennett. It features four analysis papers that consider poetry, each using different critical lenses, writing techniques, or aspects of the genre. Critical-thinking questions, sidebars highlighting and explaining each thesis and argument, and other possible approaches for analysis help students understand the mechanics of essay writing. Features include a glossary, references, websites, source notes, and an index. Aligned to Common Core Standards and correlated to state standards.

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  • Juan Felipe Herrera: From Migrant to Poet Laureate, 1st Edition

    Juan Felipe Herrera: From Migrant to Poet Laureate, 1st Edition

    Mitchell Lane   |   2021   |   ISBN-13: 9781680206722

    Juan Felipe Herrera had an unusual childhood traveling with his migrant parents from one farm to another. They did not speak much English, but they taught him much about the world around him. For this family, it was a world that spanned two countries: Mexico and the United States. Young Juan learned early that his life had a lot in common with great literature. He loved stories from the time his mother first told them to him. Read more about Juan Felipe Herrera as he discovers his voice and the road that led to him becoming the first Latino poet laureate in the United States.

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  • Poetry for Students

    Poetry for Students

    Gale   |   2022   |   ISBN-13: 9780028674353

    Each volume of Poetry for Students contains easily accessible and content-rich discussions of the literary and historical backgrounds of 16 works from various cultures and periods. Each poem covered in this new resource was specially chosen by an advisory panel of teachers and librarians—experts who have helped us define the information needs of students and ensure the age-appropriateness of this reference's content.

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