Book Review: ‘A Treatise on Poetry for Beginners’ by Dr. Ampat Koshy

Book Review

‘A Treatise on Poetry For Beginners’ by Dr. Ampat Koshy

Speak Up Publishing

Available at


So delighted to let you know that this review of mine has been published today at ‘Learning and Creativity’, an online resource on literature, films and the arts. Thank you, Dr. A.V. Koshy for this wonderful book, and thanks Antara Nanda Mondal, Editor of L&C, for publishing my humble review of the book. You can find the published review under their ‘Literature/Book Reviews’ section.



While commenting in his good-humored and pedantic style on the definition, scope and beauty of poetry writing, Dr. Koshy, in his book ‘A Treatise on Poetry For Beginners’ writes:

“What is poetry? My aim is not to be prescriptive. I have been a little descriptive previously but I would like to repeat certain metaphors like the body of poetry is a kingdom with many mansions and it extends across all of the time, all of space and runs like a golden thread through all the languages living and dead.”

A hopeless, despondent romantic desperately in love with verses ever since I can remember, with an inexplicable longing to pen them without the critical, scholarly eyes to see through their distinctive components, this illustration appealed instantly and immensely. I meandered through the 60 pages of the book, read a couple of the chapters more than once, also skimming through the various reviews of the book written by poets, scholars and hopefully one or two beginners like myself, stumbling over the act of writing poetry. In my quest to understand the various complex parameters and components of poetry that he analyzes, I gradually began to discover that Dr. Koshy’s ‘Treatise’ is a journey to make his readers understand why and how, poems through the ages, through their similes, metaphors, onomatopoeia, alliteration, euphony and cacophony, are actually meant to cater to our hearts, our emotions and finer human feelings.

Characterized by refined, superior poetic sensibilities, a keen eye for details into the minutest structural and aesthetic aspects of poetry writing and a signature wit, Dr. Koshy’s ‘A Treatise on Poetry For Beginners’ can be defined as a complete, comprehensive manifesto on poetry writing with a possibility of diverse readership. It is, first and foremost, for amateur poets striving to enhance their craft. It is also meant for mature poets who love looking into the art and evolution of poetry into its present times, and last but not the least, for the aficionados who love reading poetry for its richness of sounds, metaphor, imagery and a huge variety of poetic styles.

Dr. Koshy begins his book with a critical, scholarly voice that analyzes the act of poetry writing in terms of its wider framework of meaning, where he refers to a wide variety of philosophical theories, to Aristotle, Longinus, Horace, Pope and “Ars Poetica” and also the theory of Sanskrit and Dravidian aesthetics, all of which has cumulatively shaped his creative, critical and aesthetic perceptions regarding the art of poetry. In the chapters that follow, the readers walk hand-in-hand with him towards a lively, entertaining, amusing territory of intense discourses on the various aspects of the form, structure and stylistic components of writing poetry. And what is remarkable in this journey is that in all of the chapters, he unfailingly exhibits his exceptional depth and nuance about the mental, cognitive process of poetry writing as a genre/form.

It becomes evident while reading the book that Dr. Koshy has a voracious love for poetry that dates back to the classical Pope and Dryden and moves back and forth into the realm of the modern, post-modern poems of the 20th Century (with special emphasis on T.S. Eliot’s poetry) and poetry that features in online social networks like Facebook, poetry which defines the expressions of creativity in today’s digital age. Dr. Koshy’s book is a beautiful, evocative journey into the poetic realm of the classical poets he precisely refers to and also into the world of online and print anthologies of our current times that fosters the abundance of seasoned and amateur poets of the new generation. What strikes me most is the effortless combination of his canonical, critical voice and also the easy, yet sophisticated humor he employs in the chapters of the book (he refers to them as ‘posts’), with which he strives to pick up and string together the scattered pearls of style, imagery, voice, figure of speech and most importantly, rhyme, and how they work together to form eloquent, free-flowing, lush and timeless poems.

The critic in Dr. Koshy lets the readers discover the various elements of sound, rhythm and six different sensory perceptions while dissecting the various images in the poems he illustrates. The visual, musical, auditory and olfactory amalgamation of the images he illustrates lets the readers discover the exotic beauty and sensuality in the language, that is, the body of the poems. However, what shines through in his descriptive, scholarly analysis is that through the various wonders of figurative speech, through the beauty of the sounds of the words coming together, through the poets’ reliance on abstract images, he speaks of the poems as beautiful and complete vehicles of self-exploration of the poet (example—the poem ‘There is no Frigate like a Book’ by Emily Dickinson). Also, through his illustration of the poems of Dylan Thomas, T.S. Eliot and Samuel Beckett and his analysis of the various aspects of their poetic form, structure and voice, he effectively shows us how these poets have mastered the traditional forms of poetry, and also experimented with the elements of form, structure and voice while crafting their masterpieces.

With his intense critical analysis and observation, Dr. Koshy unfolds each chapter with conviction and a dash of humor, while he demonstrates the stylistic components of the poems he chooses to discuss with clarity and originality. Each chapter is characterized by one or two of his distinctive revelations, be it about the latest use of sonnets in English poetry, or the inimitable poetic voice of Eliot, or the surprising possibilities of today’s world of self-publishing in Facebook and vanity publishing. The book, thus, emphasizes on the fact that more than an esoteric discourse, the art of poetry can be explored as an ever-evolving artistic expression of a community involved in reading, writing and analyzing poetry. Myself being a small part of this sprawling community, would thus, always have this book with me as a keepsake that would remind me of poetry writing as a literary, rhetorical and well as a community pursuit.