Read more about Naming the Unnameable: An Approach to Poetry for New Generations

Naming the Unnameable: An Approach to Poetry for New Generations

(17 reviews)

Michelle Bonczek Evory, Kalamazoo Community College

Copyright Year: 2018

ISBN 13: 9781942341499

Publisher: Open SUNY

Language: English

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Reviewed by April Asbury, Instructor, Radford University on 5/23/22

No single book can be a truly comprehensive study of poetry, but Evory's work does its best to give a thorough, well-rounded introduction to writing and analyzing poetry. She includes classic, familiar literary writers, including Keats and... read more

Reviewed by Piers Gelly, Lecturer in English, University of Virginia on 12/4/20

This book is a thoughtful guide to writing poetry, with attention to many of the building blocks of poems, both formalist and free-verse. The poems included are mostly English-language (few translated poems) and from the modern/contemporary... read more

Reviewed by Heather Treseler, Associate Professor, Worcester State University on 6/30/20

This book is a comprehensive introduction to poetry writing for students encountering the genre for the first time. read more

Reviewed by Erica Braverman, Part-time instructor, Portland Community College on 6/24/20

The book is mostly very comprehensive. It manages to cover important elements for reading and writing poetry, while also offering helpful, interactive tips and exercises throughout. My main criticism with the book's comprehensiveness--and perhaps... read more

Reviewed by Alexander Williams, Graduate Student, University of Colorado Boulder on 6/11/20

Constructing a holistic approach to poetry for undergraduate students is no small task, but Bonczek Evory does a solid job of weaving difficult explication with relevant and powerful poetic examples. “Naming the Unnameable” would be an excellent... read more

Reviewed by Stephanie Couey, GPTI English Literature and Creative Writing, University of Colorado Boulder on 6/11/20

"I found this textbook in full to be tremendously useful. It covers ground that very few poetry textbooks do, such as how to submit poems for publication and how to read poems for an audience. The chapters on ""Image,"" ""Voice,""... read more

Reviewed by Rachel Rinehart, Visiting Assistant Professor, Marshall University on 3/8/20

Naming the Unnameable would be an excellent text for an introductory level poetry class, as it addresses all of the foundational aspects of poetry that are important for the beginning poet to learn about. In addition to discussing traditional... read more

Reviewed by Marisol Moreno Ortiz, Library Reference Assistant/Librarian, Linn-Benton Community College on 12/17/19

The author covers the areas that are important for students that are being introduced to poetry. The author also provides a content list that includes a list of key terms, concrete and abstract work lists. The list of key terms will help... read more

Reviewed by Fred Shaw, Assistant Professor, Point Park University on 9/14/19

Evory utilizes a well-rounded POV in "Naming the Unnameable," covering much of the same material I've taught in Intro to Poetry as well as Poetry Workshops without a textbook. This would be a nice addition to any student interested in pursuing... read more

Reviewed by Andrew Swensen, Associate Professor, Point Park University on 9/13/19

Naming the Unnameable takes on the task of teaching poetry composition, which, like the book’s title, is a paradox since it is both important and impossible. In any art form, how do you provide instruction for someone to create what does not yet... read more

Reviewed by Jason Miller, Professor, Metropolitan State University of Denver on 9/12/19

One would have to think hard to come up with some foundation concerning the writing or reading of poetry that is not at least touched upon in this work, which feels thorough. The glossary is an excellent addendum students will likely take into... read more

Reviewed by Adrian Kien, Reference Library / Adjunct Poetry and Literature Instructor, University of Montana – Montana Tech on 5/1/19

This book would make a great textbook for an introduction to poetry class. While it is not completely comprehensive, no poetry book is. It is up to an individual instructor to bring their own ideas to the table. This book provides a jumping off... read more

Reviewed by Janice Lee, Assistant Professor, Open Oregon Educational Resources on 3/18/19

I could see this textbook being used in an Intro to Poetry class. Though the book provides a great, general foundation and offers a nice overview to poetry for those that are new to the medium, I found it a bit oversimplified for the student... read more

Reviewed by Nadine Meyer, Associate Professor, Gettysburg College on 2/11/19

This book is clear and straight-forward. It is a little simplistic for the students I teach. It's index and glossary are good. However, is a very limited number of poems in the book. As a result, there is not alot of in-dept analysis. I do... read more

Reviewed by Jennifer MacKenzie, Lecturer, Lehman College on 6/19/18

This textbook does a great job of covering in satisfying detail a broad range of forms and activities that scaffold all stages of the composition process, from journaling to publication. In terms of technical instruction, it provides thorough... read more

Reviewed by Allison Amend, Associate Professor, Lehman College on 6/19/18

This book is an excellent overview of the art of reading and writing poetry for an introductory college course or an advanced secondary school course. It feels as though it examines all important points. Of course, poetry is a vast topic; still,... read more

Reviewed by Ashley Hudson, Lecturer, University of North Carolina Wilmington on 5/21/18

Naming the Unnameable: An Approach to Poetry for New Generations does an excellent job outlining an approach to reading poetry, crafting poetry, revision, and potential venues for poetry. It defines craft elements well and is a good resource for... read more

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Notes

Reviewer's Notes

Preface for Instructors

Introduction: Our Natural Right to Play

  • Chapter One: Getting Started: The Nine Muses
  • Chapter Two: Welcome, Reader: Reading Poetry
  • Chapter Three: Images
  • Chapter Four: Voice
  • Chapter Five: Architecture
  • Chapter Six: Acoustics
  • Chapter Seven: Experimenting with Forms
  • Chapter Eight: Revision
  • Chapter Nine: Publication
  • Chapter Ten: Reading Your Poems to an Audience

Key Terms

Concrete Word List

Abstract Word List

Recommended Accompanying Resources

Works Cited

Ancillary Material

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  • About the Book

    Informed by a writing philosophy that values both spontaneity and discipline, Michelle Bonczek Evory's Naming the Unnameable: An Approach to Poetry for New Generations offers practical advice and strategies for developing a writing process that is centered on play and supported by an understanding of America's rich literary traditions. With consideration to the psychology of invention, Bonczek Evory provides students with exercises aimed to make writing in its early stages a form of play that gives way to more enriching insights through revision, embracing the writing of poetry as both a love of language and a tool that enables us to explore ourselves and better understand the world. The volume includes resources for students seeking to publish and build a writing-centered lifestyle or career. Poets featured range in age, subject, and style, and many are connected to colleges in the State University of New York system. Naming the Unnameable promotes an understanding of poetry as a living art of which students are a part, and provides ways for students to involve themselves in the growing contemporary poetry community that thrives in America today.

    About the Contributors


    Michelle Bonczek Evory is the author of The Art of the Nipple (Orange Monkey Publishing, 2013) and a mentor at The Poet’s Billow ( Her poetry is featured in the Best New Poets 2013 anthology and has been published in over seventy journals and magazines, including Crazyhorse, cream city review, Green Mountains Review, New Millennium Writings, Orion Magazine, and The Progressive. She holds a PhD from Western Michigan University, an MFA from Eastern Washington University, an MA from SUNY Brockport, was previously a Visiting Professor at The SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, and is currently a  part time professor at Western Michigan University and an adjunct professor Kalamazoo Community College.

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