Turco by Russell

Lewis Turco in 2009. Photo by James Russel. Courtesy Wikipedia.

Lewis P. Turco (born May 2, 1934), is an American poet, academic, and writer of fiction and non-fiction. Turco is an advocate for Formalist poetry (or New Formalism) in the United States.


Turco took a keen interest in poetry as a teenager and after high school. While serving in the U.S. Navy aboard the USS Hornet, he had work published in various little magazines and quarterlies.[1]

He graduated from the University of Connecticut in 1959, published his First Poems in 1960, and completed an MA at the University of Iowa in 1962 (at the Iowa Writers' Workshop). It was there that he cultivated an interest in formal verse and began, to use his words, "collecting forms." Turco collected these forms in the Book of Forms, published in the 1960s, a time when it would seem odd to do so since most poets were writing free verse.

Turco taught at Fenn College in Cleveland, Ohio (now Cleveland State University), where he founded the Cleveland State University Poetry Center, and at the State University of New York at Oswego where he was founding Director of the Program in Writing Arts.

In retirement he resides in Dresden, Maine, with his wife, Jeannie. He has two granddaughters of whom he is very fond, Jessima and Phoebe.

He writes and posts almost daily on his blog Poetics and Ruminations.

Among Turco's former students are: National Book Award-winning and two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist author Alice McDermott (BA, SUNY Oswego, 1975, NBA for Charming Billy, 1998); Robert O'Connor (author), author of Buffalo Soldiers; Ben Doyle (now writing under the name Ben Doller), who won the Walt Whitman Award of the Academy of American Poets for his first book Radio! Radio! in 2001; Christian Langworthy; Diana Abu-Jaber; Matthew Spireng.

Turco also published work under the pseudonym Wesli Court, which is an anagram of his name.


Recent workEdit

Recent books are Satan's Scourge, a Narrative of the Age of Witchcraft in England and New England 1580-1697; La Famiglia / the Family, Memoirs, and a free on-line e-chapbook of poems titled Attic, Shed, and Barn, all published in 2009. In the same year he started a new venture to collect more forms at a blog called The Book of Odd and Invented Forms.

Turco's classification of rhymesEdit

In his book The New Book of Forms (University Press of New England, 1986), Turco gives the following classification of rhymes:

  1. End rhyme full rhyme at line endings
  2. Falling rhyme (or feminine rhyme) is rhyme for feminine endings with stress pattern / x, example: falling / calling
  3. Light rhyme example: falling / ring (DaleTemplate:Ref calls this Uneven Rhyme)
  4. Internal rhyme rhymes line end with word in the middle of the same line
  5. Linked rhyme rhyme end of one line with beginning of next
  6. Interlaced rhyme rhymes middle of one line with middle of next line
  7. Cross rhyme rhymes ending of one line with middle of adjacent line
  8. Head rhyme rhymes syllables at the beginning of lines
  9. Apocopated rhyme breaks a word across a line-break; example: morn- / -ing / born
  10. Enjambed rhyme uses first sound of next line to make rhyming unit; example: he / descended / seed)
  11. single rhyme
  12. double rhyme
  13. triple rhyme
  14. compound rhyme treats groups of words as though they were one word; example: people call work / maid-of-all-work.
  15. mosaic rhyme is compound + normal; example: shy lot / pilot
  16. trite rhyme is the used of overused rhymes
  17. omoioteleton
  18. rich rime, rime riche, false rhyme example: cyst / persist / insist
  19. consonance, slant-rhyme, off-rhyme, near-rhyme allows similar sounds, example: bridge / hedge / gouge / rage / rouge)
  20. analyzed rhyme example: moon / divine / chide / brood
  21. wrenched rhyme ... a pun ... example: rhinestones / noses to their grindestones
  22. amphisbaenic rhyme or backward rhyme; examples: later / retail, or stop / pots
  23. Lyon rime ... word by word pailindrome structure of a stanza
  24. sight rhyme or eye rhyme: example: eight / sleight
  25. dialect rhyme is rhyme that s true rhyme in a particular dialect
  26. historical rhyme is rhyme that was true rhyme in another historical period
  27. echo
  28. alliteration
  29. cynghanedd



In 1986 Turco won the Melville Cane Award of the Poetry Society of America for his book of criticism, Visions and Revisions of American Poetry.

In 1992 he received a Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Alumni Association of the University of Connecticut. He was inducted into the Meriden, Connecticut, Hall of Fame in 1993, and in 1999 he received the John Ciardi Award for lifetime achievement in poetry sponsored by the National Italian American Foundation. I

n May 2000 he received an honorary degree, Doctor of Humane Letters, from Ashland University in Ohio and a second from the University of Maine at Fort Kent in 2009. His book Satan's Scourge: A Narrative of the Age of Witchcraft in England and New England 1580-1697 won the Wild Card category of the New England Book Festival in the same year.

  • First Poems was a selection of The Book Club for Poetry In 1960.
  • The Compleat Melancholick, supported by a National Endowment for the Arts grant, was published in 1985, received a Chicago Book Clinic Exhibit Certificate of Award in 1986, and was selected for inclusion in the National Endowment for the Arts' New American Writing Exhibits at the International Book Fairs of Frankfurt and Liber.
  • Chapbook prizes include The Sketches, a 1962 American Weave Award volume; A Family Album, the Silverfish Review Chapbook Award for 1990, and Murmurs in the Walls, winner of the Cooper House Chapbook Competition in 1992.
  • In 1998 A Book of Fears: Poems won the first Bordighera Bi-Lingual Poetry Prize.
  • A second edition of The Book of Forms: A Handbook of Poetics, originally published in 1968 and known to The New Formalists as “The poet’s Bible,” was published as The New Book of Forms in 1986, and a Third Edition appeared in 2000.
  • A companion to The Book of Forms, The Book of Literary Terms, was a 1999 Choice “Outstanding Academic Book” in 2000; and a third, the 2004 The Book of Dialogue, was chosen in 2005 as a “University Press Book Selected for Public and Secondary School Libraries.”
  • In 1986 Turco’s book of criticism, Visions and Revisions of American Poetry, won the Poetry Society of America’s Melville Cane Award.



  • Day after History: A selection of poems (as "Wesli Court"). Arlington, VA: 1956.
  • First Poems. Francestown, NH: Golden Quill Press, 1960.
  • Summer's Raceway: A collection of poems. University of Iowa, 1962.
  • Awaken, Bells Falling: Poems, 1959-1967. Columbia, MO: University of Missouri Press, 1968.
  • The Inhabitant (with prints by Thomas Seawell). Northampton, MA: Despa Press, 1970; Oswego, NY: Mathom, 1981.
  • Pocoangelini: A fantography; and other poems. Northampton, MA: Despa Press, 1971.
  • The Weed Garden: Poems (chapbook). Orangeburg, SC: Peaceweed Press, 1973.
  • Courses in Lambents: Poems (as "Wesli Court"). Oswego, NY: Mathom, 1977.
  • Curses and Laments (as "Wesli Court"), Stevens Point, WI: R. Behm, 1978.
  • A Cage of Creatures (chapbook). Potsdam, NY: Banjo Press, 1978.
  • The Habitation. Binghhampton, NY: Bellevue Press, 1978.
  • Seasons of the Blood (chapbook). Rochester, NY: A.J. Vallone / B. Quetchenbach, 1980.
  • American Still Lifes. Oswego, NY: Mathom, 1981.
  • The Book of Beasts: Poems. Oswego, NY: Mathom, 1984.
  • The Compleat Melancholick: Being a sequence of found, composite, and composed poems, based largely upon Robert Burton's the Anatomy of melancholy. St. Paul, MN: Bieler Press / University of California Press, 1985.
  • A Maze of Monsters (chapbook). Livingston, AL: Livingston University Press, 1986.
  • Oswego. Oswego, NY: Mithcell, 1988.
  • The Shifting Web: New and selected poems. Fayetteville, AK: University of Arkansas Press, 1989.
  • A Family Album: Poems (chapbook). Eugene, OR: Silverfish Review (Silverfish Review Chapbook Award 1989), 1990.
  • Murmurs in the Walls (chapbook). Oklahoma City, OK: Cooper House (Cooper House Chapbook Award, 1990), 1992.
  • Legends of the Mists (chapbook). Kew Gardens, NY: New Spirit Press, 1993.
  • Emily Dickinson, Woman of Letters: Poems and centos from lines in Emily Dickinson's letters. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1993.
  • Bordello (portfolio; with prints by George O'Connell). Oswego, NY: Grey Heron Press, 1996.
  • A Book of Fears (with Italian translations by Joseph Alessia). West Lafayette, IN: Bordighera (First Annual Bordighera Bi-Lingual Poetry Award of the Sonia Raiziss-Giop Foundation), 1998.
  • The Green Maces of Autumn: Voices in an old Maine house, Dresden Mills, ME: Mathom Bookshop, 2002.
  • The Collected Lyrics of Lewis Turco/Wesli Court, 1953–2004. Scottsdale, AZ: Star Cloud Press, 2004.
  • Fearful Pleasures: The complete poems, 1959–2007. Scottsdale, AZ: Star Cloud Press, 2007.
  • Attic, Shed, and Barn. Burlington, ON, & Tokyo: Ahadada books, 2009.
  •  The Gathering of the Elders, and other poems (as "Wesli Court"). Scottsdale, AZ: Star Cloud Press, 2010.
  • Wesli Court's Epitaphs for the Poets. Baltimore, MD : BrickHouse Books, 2012.


  • The Sketches of Lewis Turco / Livevil: A mask, Cleveland, OH: American Weave Press (American Weave Chapbook Award), 1962.
  • The Fog: Chamber opera in one act (music by Walter Hekster, libretto by Turco). Amsterdam: Donemus, 1990.

Short fictionEdit

  • The Museum of Ordinary People, and other stories. Scottsdale, AZ: Star Cloud Press, 2008.


  • The Literature of New York: A selective bibliography of colonial and native New York State authors (monograph). Oneonta, NY: New York State English Council, 1970.
  • English 22:12: Creative writing in poetry (study guide). Albany, NY: State University of New York, 1970.
  • Poetry: An introduction through writing (college text). Reston, VA: Reston Publishing, 1973.
  • Freshman Composition and Literature (study guide). Albany, NY: State University of New York, 1973.[3]
  • Visions and Revisions of American Poetry (criticism). Fayetteville, AK: University of Arkansas Press, 1986.
  • Dialogue: A Socratic dialogue on the art of writing dialogue in fiction, Cincinnati, OH: Writer's Digest Books, 1989; London: Robinson Publishing, 1991.
  • The Public Poet: Five lectures on the art and craft of poetry, Ashland, OR: Ashland University Poetry Press, 1991.
  • How to Write a Mi££ion (with Ansen Dibell & Orson Scott Card) London: Robinson Publishing, 1995.
  • Shaking the Family Tree: A remembrance (monograph). West Lafayette, IN: VIA Folios / Bordighera, 1998.
  • The Book of Literary Terms: The genres of fiction, drama, nonfiction, literary criticism, and xcholarship, Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 1999.
  • The Book of Dialogue, How to write effective conversation in fiction, screenplays, drama, and poetry. Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 2004.
  • A Sheaf of Leaves: Literary memoirs. Scottsdale, AZ: Star Cloud Press, 2004.
  • Fantaseers: a Book of memories, Scottsdale, AZ: Star Cloud Press 2005.
  • La Famiglia = The Family (memoirs). New York : Bordighera Press, 2009.
  • Satan's Scourge: A narrative of the age of witchcraft in England and New England, 1580-1697. Scottsdale, AZ: Star Cloud Press, 2009.
  • Dialects of the Tribe: Postmodern American poetry and poetics (with David Ossman). Nacogdoches, TX : Stephen F. Austin State University Press, 2012.

The Book of FormsEdit

  • The Book of Forms: A handbook of poetics. New York: Dutton, 1968.
  • The New Book of Forms: A handbook of poetics. Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 1986.
  • The Book of Forms: A handbook of poetics: Third edition. Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 2000.
  • The Book of Forms: A handbook of poetics: Including odd and invented forms (revised & expanded 4th edition). Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 2011.


  • Murgatroyd and Mabel (as "Wesli Court"; illustrations by "Robert Michaels" [Robert Sullins]). Oswego, NY: Mathom, 1978.


  • The Airs of Wales: Medieval Welsh poetry in modern English (as "Wesli Court"). Philadelphia: Temple University, 1981.


  • Manoah Bodman, The Life and Poetry of Manoah Bodman: Bard of the Berkshires. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1999.
Lewis Turco Reading The Late, Late Show02:41

Lewis Turco Reading The Late, Late Show

Except where noted, bibliographical information courtesy WorldCat.[4]

Audio / videoEdit

  • Poets and Poetry with Lewis Turco (cassette). Oswego, NY: State University of New York, College at Oswego / WRVO-FM-90, Oswego Public Radio, 1980.[4]

See alsoEdit


  • ^ Turco, L. A Sheaf of Leaves: Literary memoirs, Scottsdale, AZ: Star Cloud Press, 2005.


  1. Lewis Turco, The Per Contra Interview by Miriam N. Kotzin. Per Contra, Summer 2008. Web, Aug. 26, 2011.
  2. ^ Turco, L. A Sheaf of Leaves: Literary memoirs. Scottsdale, AZ: Star Cloud Press, 2005. Print.
  3. Lewis Turco, The Book of Literary Terms, Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 1999, 190. Google Books, Web, Mar. 30, 2015.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Search results = au:Lewis Turco, WorldCat, OCLC Online Computer Library Center Inc. Web, Mar. 30, 2015.

External linksEdit

Audio / video
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