Published in 2007 by Teachers & Writers Collaborative, Structure & Surprise: Engaging Poetic Turns is the first book of poetry writing pedagogy to focus on the poetic turn as a significant element in poetry and a signficant aspect in terms of crafting poems.
A turn is a major shift in a poem’s progress. As Randall Jarrell says in “Levels and Opposites: Structure in Poetry,” “a successful poem starts in one position and ends at a very different one, often a contradictory or opposite one; yet there has been no break in the unity of the poem.” And more than almost any other element of a poem, it is the turn which marks and engages such transformation in poems.
Organizing poems not according to their form but rather according to their structure, or the pattern of their turning, Structure & Surprise offers readers new categories of poems, which in turn offer new ways of conceiving of, reading, and writing poems.
Poet and president of the Guggenheim Foundation Edward Hirsch says that Structure & Surprise is “an immensely helpful book of turns and illuminations, a book on structure that is full of surprises.”
Poet and former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins says that Structure & Surprise is “a smart collection of takes on poetry’s most essential maneuvers–those swivelings, swervings, and veerings that send poems off in unexpected directions.”
Structure & Surprise‘s contributors include some of today’s most interesting poets and critics: Christopher Bakken, Michael Theune, Mary Szybist, Mark Yakich, D.A. Powell, John Beer, Corey Marks, Jerry Harp, Prageeta Sharma, Francisco Aragon, Mary Jo Bang, Denise Duhamel, Eric Gamalinda, Peter Gizzi, Gabriel Gudding, Timothy Liu, Jeffrey McDaniel, Susan Mitchell, Patrick Phillips, Wang Ping, Susan Wheeler, Elizabeth Willis, and Rachel Zucker.
Editor Michael Theune is an active poet and critic. He teaches English at Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington, Illinois.