The Atlantic

The Language the Poet Knows

A new collection of essays attempts to lend some objective shape to a timeless-seeming challenge: the ongoing balance of voice and form.
Source: Alexander Nemenov / AFP / Getty

It is one of writing’s oldest cliches: Find your voice. Developing this ineffable quality—unique to a given writer, derived largely from reflection and experience—can seem like an elusive goal. Particularly for poets, with their highly personal interaction with language and the challenge of adapting it to form, the quest can seem highly subjective.

, a collection of new and reworked essays by Craig Morgan Teicher, attempts to lend some objective shape to this endeavor by surveying how poets grow in their craft and take on its challenges over the course of their writing lives. In these engaging studies—informed by Teicher’s

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