Windows and Doors is a poetry handbook unlike any other. It places poststructuralist and postmodern ways of thinking alongside the formalist, making explicit what is usually tacit. Each of the nine essays addresses a topic of central concern to readers and writers of poetry at the same time that it makes an argument about poetic language and ideology. The foundational topics of diction, syntax, rhythm, surprise, figurative language, narrative, genre, book design, and performance are explained through the lenses of theory, history, and philosophy—and illuminated through vibrant examples from contemporary U.S. poetry.
Close reviews for Windows and Doors.
. . . one of poetry’s most ludic and encyclopedic essayists . . .
– Mary Ruefle
Windows and Doors builds its readers’ knowledge of poetry from the ground up. Beginning with a poem’s word choice and moving through discussions of syntax, rhythm, metaphor, and even its place within a book-length manuscript, Natasha Sajé’s lucid essays examine how poetic meaning is shaped. Sajé’s is a book for the erudite reader as well as the novice poet; her knowledge of both literary theory and the contemporary American scene crosses every aesthetic camp line currently imaginable. Indeed, just as Windows and Doors highlights those strategies working across “oppositional” aesthetic lines, Sajé’s book serves as a bridge between the theoretical and the practical, breaking down whatever critical/creative divisions remain in poetic scholarship. At times provocative, at times disarming, these essays continually surprise, willing to combine Kristeva’s take on Lacan with the origin of the word “abracadabra,” providing a magical quality to Sajé’s thought that serves these essays’ intention well, delighting as well as educating the reader, building a bridge between poetry and prose.