All the Fun’s in How You Say a Thing
An Explanation of Meter and Versification

By Timothy Steele

“Steele himself says that a formally experienced poet would not require a book on meter to learn his trade. That is surely true; yet I can testify, as one who has been writing in meter for over fifty years, that Steele's book has been delightful and instructive reading for me.”

Richard Wilbur

All the Fun’s in How You Say a Thing takes its title from a line by Frost, a poet whose commitment to clarity of expression Steele clearly shares in this modest, neatly organized, and lucidly written explanation of English meter. Steele incorporates into his graceful study a wealth of linguistic insight. Steele's sharp and witty book is the perfect Poetry Month selection: an expert guide that speaks to all levels of readers.”

Kirkus Reviews

“Steele places the many styles of poetry in historical context and clearly explains such elements as rhyme, rhythm, elision, and the use of stanzas. Students of poetry as well as practicing poets who wish to hone their craft will find this new book immensely helpful.”

Library Journal

Perfect for the general reader of poetry, students and teachers of literature, and aspiring poets, All the Fun's in How You Say a Thing is a lively and comprehensive study of versification by one of our best contemporary practitioners of traditional poetic forms. Emphasizing both the coherence and the diversity of English metrical practice from Chaucer's time to ours, Timothy Steele explains how poets harmonize the fixed units of meter with the variable flow of idiomatic speech, and examines the ways in which poets have used meter, rhyme, and stanza to communicate and enhance meaning. Steele illuminates as well many practical, theoretical, and historical issues in English prosody, without ever losing sight of the fundamental pleasures, beauties, and insights that fine poems offer us.

Written lucidly, with a generous selection of helpful scansions and explanations of the metrical effects of the great poets of the English language, All the Fun's in How You Say a Thing is not only a valuable handbook on technique; it is also a wide-ranging study of English verse and a mine of entertaining information for anyone wishing more fully to write, enjoy, understand, or teach poetry.

Timothy Steele’s previous collections of poetry include The Color Wheel and Sapphics and Uncertainties: Poems 1970–1986. He has also published two widely discussed works of literary criticism, Missing Measures: Modern Poetry and the Revolt against Meter and All the Fun’s in How You Say a Thing: An Explanation of Meter and Versification. He is a professor of English at California State University, Los Angeles. For more information, visit his website.

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Related Subjects

Poetry · Essays · Literary Studies



Retail price: $24.95, S.
Release date: Apr. 1999
384 pages · 6 × 9 in.
Rights: World