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Making Sense of Poetry

♦ A brand new look at a 'difficult' subject

Now available in a completely revised new edition, this readable and carefully structured guide comes together with exercises for you to try out and 'interludes' between chapters on topics which expand on what you have just read.

♦ A collection of companion YouTube videos

Also now released are seven YouTube videos offering additional insights into all the aspects of studying poetry which are described in the book.

The first is part of the video on imagery, the centre on the concept of word fields, and the third is an illustration of a famous allegorical work.

On the left, a demonstration of the first person narrator, the centre is a graphical representation of the differences between poetry and fiction and the last example is a humorous take on what a poetic foot is not about.

♦ Summary of the book

The guide begins by examining the physical shape of a poem on the page, then moves on to a shopping list of topics:

  1. Vocabulary
  2. Imagery
  3. Point of view
  4. Personalities
  5. Actions
  6. The senses
  7. Position
  8. Rhythm and rhyme
  9. External references
  10. The unexpected

This plain-speaking introduction to the study and understanding of poetry avoids academic jargon and provides a clear pathway to coming to a deeper awareness of poetry of the present and past ages. The guide is written in a clear and at times amusing style by a long-standing expert in the field.

♦ Reviews

A 'must have' book which encourages the reader to explore poetry in greater depth. To pursue its meaning and thence to delight rather than bewilder.
Rex Last has written with humour and alacrity. I shall now unearth my poetry books long since assigned to dusty shelves. (Margaret Holman)

I liked that the author, understanding how boring poetry could be at times, adds humour to his explanations at regular intervals. This is an effective way of teaching, as it made me appreciate what he tried to explain faster.
It also made me feel refreshed while I read, as I had some good laughs. Furthermore, I liked that the author included exercises on the interpretation of poems and their solutions to enable readers to test themselves, having gained the knowledge that the book sought to teach.
There was nothing to dislike about this book, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. The author structured his message very well and executed it with perfection. ... I recommend this book for people who are interested in poetry. (Reviewer,

To go to this book's Amazon page, where you can preview the text for free, or order and download a copy, go to (or your local regional site) and search for Making Sense of Poetry. A sequel, Making Sense of Unseen Poems, is now available.

♦ Click here to read about our guide to interpreting unseen poems

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