´What is poetry? Poetry related to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special, so that it will be remembered and valued´.
As I am fighting hard to update my poetry TBR, reading about poetry can also be a helpful incentive. This is why I considered seriously going through the suggestions in A Little History of Poetry by John Carey, pen and paper on the side.
The book reads easily, the references are not complex from the academic point of view, the perspective is chronological-historical and there are also enough quotes to inspire your next read. If you really want to have a systematic overview of the poetic works of humanity. Especially if you are a beginner literature student or looking for some basic writing, this book can be really helpful to update the information.
On the other side, with some noticeable exceptions, the references are predominantly from the English-speaking realm. It starts with the Epic of Gilgamesh - because it is history after all - it mentions Hafez, Villon (but not the rich poetry of the French Middle Ages), Dante and Petrarch, Heine, Rilke and Goethe, Pushkin and Lermontov. In the final chapter, Poets in Politics, there is place for Spanish-speaking poets like Paz and Lorca and even Yehuda Amichai is mentioned. However, those poets do not necessarily appear as part of the wider history of poetry - in terms of influences, impact on the history of poetry etc. - and are rather present to add diversity to the bigger picture.
Therefore, use this Little History of Poetry without too many expectations, just as a reference that can encourage your poetry reading plans. As for me, I will keep reading more poetry, no matter the original language was written in.
Rating: 2.5 stars
Disclaimer: Book offered by the publisher in exchange for an honest review