Archive for November 19th, 2007

Sound and sense

Here’s a story (via Avoiding the Muse) about a $3.3 million bequest to Southern Methodist University from the estate of the widow of Laurence Perrine, who authored the classic poetry textbook Sound and Sense.  The Laurence and Catherine Perrine Chair will go to a professor of creative writing, and an endowed fund will establish scholarships for students in English.

I used Sound and Sense in high school and used it as a course text when I first began to teach the sort of “college writing about literature” course of which many colleges have a version.  It is now in its twelfth edition under the title of Perrine’s Sound and Sense, by Thomas Arp and Greg Johnson.  I haven’t used it recently, mostly because there are books that are better suited to my needs, but I have great fondness for this book, which taught me to pay close attention to how poems are made and gave me so much of the vocabulary we use for talking about them.  (I still explain the difference between synecdoche and metonymy using Perrine’s examples.)  In my mind I always see certain poems–“Bells for John Whiteside’s Daughter,” “Naming of Parts,” “Those Winter Sundays”–in the typeface and layout of the Sound and Sense edition I used in high school.  It might have been the sixth.  It was purple.