Annie Finch's A Formal Feeling Comes, the much-beloved, aesthetically and multiculturally rich anthology of poems in form by women, has been reissued by WordTech Editions to inspire a new generation of poets to channel the revolutionary power of poetic pattern and form. The poets include Debra Bruce, Marilyn Hacker, Mary Kinzie, Carolyn Kizer, Maxine Kumin, Marilyn Nelson, Molly Peacock, Sonia Sanchez, Ann Waldman, and Nellie Wong.'
Not only does A Formal Feeling Comes gathers an exciting, diverse, and inspiring collection of women's poems in form; readers will also find the book invaluable for the essays on poetics. Each of the sixty poets includes a statement or essay about the challenges and rewards she finds writing in form. The essays include Marilyn Nelson's "Owning the Masters,"which traces out the importance for her as an African American poet of claiming European forms as her own, and Honor Moore's "The Walls of the Room," which describes how the sestina was the only form strong enough to hold a poem about an early experience of sexual assault.
"In her introduction to this new anthology, Finch defines "formal" poetry as "poetry that foregrounds the artificial and rhetorical nature of poetic language by means of conspicuously repeated patterns." Finch includes many poems in set forms -- ballads, sonnets, sestinas, villanelles -- as well as many other metrical and non-metrical rhyming poems. Here, also, are poems in blank verse, syllabics, sapphics, and a range of other patterns, such as chants, blues, and charms. . .
This wonderful collection celebrates the New Formalism being practiced by many highly regarded contemporary women poets … Highly recommended. This unique and ground-breaking anthology also includes statements by the poets explaining why they write formal verse.”
“I confess a bias towards free verse, so I confess that I opened A Formal Feeling Comes with what was at first a sense of hesitancy, even alarm. . . Halfway through the book, I drank a glass of good Pinot Noir, and suddenly the poems themselves opened to me. Poems that had seemed a prison for words now became houses with doors leading in and out. I understood again how much the mind craves structure. The archetypes that command the way we think and behave are not invented by the mind but are extracted by the mind from the perfect or nearly perfect forms in nature.”
-Alice Evans, Eugene Weekly
Among the many pleasures of A Formal Feeling Comes are the wide variety of poets included and their accompanying statements on poetics, written especially for the anthology. If there is a voice of formalism, it is certainly not a homogeneous one. . . A Formal Feeling Comes brings together 60 contemporary women poets, including such well-known figures as Rita Dove, Marilyn Hacker, and Maxine Kumin, as well as underappreciated poets (Janet Lewis and Vassar Miller), and emerging writers (Elizabeth Alexander, Julie Fay, and Phyllis Levin). . .. Annie Finch has done a great service in assembling this anthology: the next generation of women poets will not have to struggle to find their poetic foremothers writing in form, the way Anne Sexton and Tillie Olson "guiltily confessed to each other their private love for the work of Millay and Teasdale."
—Sue Standing, Boston Review