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How a Poem Moves

ECW Press

A collection of playfully elucidating essays to help reluctant poetry readers become well-versed in verse

Developed from Adam Sol’s popular blog, How a Poem Moves is a collection of 35 short essays that walks readers through an array of contemporary poems. Sol is a dynamic teacher, and in these essays, he has captured the humor and engaging intelligence for which he is known in the classroom. With a breezy style, Sol delivers essays that are perfect for a quick read or to be grouped together as a curriculum.

Though How a Poem Moves is not a textbook, it demonstrates poetry’s range and pleasures through encounters with individual poems that span traditions, techniques, and ambitions. This illuminating book is for readers who are afraid they “don’t get” poetry but who believe that, with a welcoming guide, they might conquer their fear and cultivate a new appreciation.


“Going beyond the question of what poems mean, Sol investigates how they work — how they elicit emotion, provide or withhold information, and construct memorable images. His selections, largely derived from his time as a juror for the 2015 Griffin Poetry Prize, tend toward the relatively lesser-known, making this survey equally worthwhile for beginners who can learn from Sol’s instruction and for more seasoned readers who will delight in the new discoveries contained within.” — Publishers Weekly

“Adam Sol approaches poetry with a unique sensitivity; one that illustrates with exceptional clarity and insight, just how a poem moves.” — Scott Griffin, founder of the Griffin Poetry Prize

“In short, conversational essays that tease out music and meaning in equal measure, Adam Sol explores the living, beating heart of poetry. With an eye to poets of diverse backgrounds and aesthetic modes, and featuring impromptu asides on rhythm and meter, How a Poem Moves is just as at home in the university classroom as the doctor’s waiting room. Rich with lively commentary and shrewd insight, these essays trace a sharp and considerate mind at work. Sol is a thoughtful and affable guide to ignite — or reignite — a love of poetry.” — Cassidy McFadzean, award-winning author of Hacker Packer

“How a Poem Moves is the perfect antidote to the condition commonly known as Fear of Poetry. And Adam Sol is the perfect companion on this tour of the sounds, sights, and emotional delights of poetry. As someone who’s spent most of her life reading and writing poems, I’m thrilled by Sol’s ability to describe what he loves in a way that teaches me to see it, too.” — Tracy K. Smith, U.S. Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Life on Mars

“There is in our wounded world a great need for the balm and challenge poetry can provide. These beautiful, rich, and often surprising meditations get the reader excited about the gift that poems contain. Adam Sol trains the ear as much as the mind's eye. He is the Roger Tory Peterson of poetry. This is a book I will pass out like religious tracts to my friends. I am grateful for it.” — Shelagh Rogers, Host and Producer at The Next Chapter, CBC Radio One

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