The Body of Poetry

Essays on Women, Form, and the Poetic Self
Annie Finch
A collection of essays, reviews, and memoir by one of the brightest poet-critics of her generation


The Body of Poetry collects essays, reviews, and memoir by Annie Finch, one of the brightest poet-critics of her generation. Finch's germinal work on the art of verse has earned her the admiration of a wide range of poets, from new formalists to hip-hop writers. And her ongoing commitment to women's poetry has brought Finch a substantial following as a "postmodern poetess" whose critical writing embraces the past while establishing bold new traditions. The Body of Poetry includes essays on metrical diversity, poetry and music, the place of women poets in the canon, and on poets Emily Dickinson, Phillis Wheatley, Sara Teasdale, Audre Lorde, Marilyn Hacker, and John Peck, among other topics. In Annie Finch's own words, these essays were all written with one aim: "to build a safe space for my own poetry. . . . [I]n the attempt, they will also have helped to nourish a new kind of American poetics, one that will prove increasingly open to poetry's heart."

Annie Finch, poet, editor, and critic, has published twenty books of poetry and poetics including Spells: New and Selected Poems, The Body of Poetry: Essays on Women, Form, and the Poetic Self,  An Exaltation of Forms: Contemporary Poets Celebrate the Diversity of Their Art, A Poet's Craft: A Comprehensive Guide to Making and Sharing Your Poetry, and The Ghost of Meter: Culture and Prosody in American Free Verse.  Based in New York, Dr. Finch travels widely to teach and perform her poetry and is the founder of, where she teaches poetry, meter, and more. She is the winner of the eleventh annual Robert Fitzgerald Prosody Award for scholars who have made a lasting contribution to the art and science of versification.

Praise / Awards

  • " . . . offers a glimpse into the criticism and esthetics of a refreshingly singular critic. A self-proclaimed 'postmodern poetess,' Annie Finch lives up to the moniker, presenting a simultaneously thorough and mercurial array of musings on poetics focusing on form and meter, remaining three beats ahead of the rank-and-file herd of traditional prosodists. Finch revivifies the dusty vault of prosody with the arcane dexterity of a necromancer. . . . [T]his text is an important one for the serious reader of poetry, particularly those who are troubled by the surface limitations and contradictions of metric formal verse, but who are eager to meet such work on its own territory with an astute and unbiased critic such as Finch as their guide. The most incisive portions of this text belong in any list of essential writings on meter."
    Art New England

  • ". . . the collection serves well as encouragement and inspiration for any poet who reads it."
    —Moira Richards,

  • "The Body of Poetry seems a highly applicable must-read for any poetry enthusiast. It would work especially well as a textbook for any university course tackling the writing or analysis of poetry."

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Copyright © 2005, University of Michigan. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • 5 3/8 x 8.
  • 192pp.
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  • Hardcover
  • 2005
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-09895-8

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  • $79.95 U.S.

  • Paper
  • 2005
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  • 978-0-472-06895-1

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  • $20.95 U.S.

  • Audio Download
  • 2021
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  • 978-0-472-00418-8

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  • $9.99 U.S.

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