In 1993, poet, author, and teacher Robert Wallace wrote an essay, "Meter in English," to clarify and simplify methods of studying the line-by-line rhythms and structure of poetry. When David Baker circulated Wallace's essay to other poets and student of prosody, the ten propositions it contained elicited an excited and powerful reaction from each respondent. Some strongly concurred; others expressed rousing disagreement. United States Poet Laureate Robert Haas called the essay "a paradigm shift" in our understanding of English prosody.
David Baker has gathered Wallace's essay, fourteen essay-length responses - from poets as divergent in practice as Timothy Steele and Robert Hass, John Frederick Nims and Eavan Boland - and an extensive afterword by Wallace that brings the argument full circle. With Wallace's ten points as a common benchmark, the respondents have created an unparalleled sampling of thought on the status of meter in poetics today and the rich diversity of opinion on how poems achieve their sound and rhythm. Taken as a whole, the collection becomes a lastingly valuable teaching guide to meter as it's understood by some of its finest scholars and makers.