A Question for all You Writers

I had a student ask me for a good (readable!  interesting!  inspiring!) book on writing poetry.  I am not a poet.  I have one book on poetry, and I only read the first chapter, so I am not qualified to give a recommendation.   I think I missed out on having the necessary and inspiring teacher at some point who showed me the wonders of poetry. 

So, does anyone have a good recommendation for a book about writing poetry?  Or does anyone have any good ideas about how to write poetry?  Any thoughts on poetry in general?  I’d sure like to have more than my own irreverent feelings and thoughts about the process.  I’ve had poems published, but rarely and with complete surprise.

7 responses to “A Question for all You Writers

  1. Well, you’ve been published. Isn’t that enough of an expert opinion? Also, how does one go about getting published? (I am full of questions today).

  2. A good book used as a text is “The Art and Craft of Poetry” by Michael J. Bugeja. It explains various forms of poetry and free verse, as well as providing examples.

    There is no substitute for reading poetry.

    Of course, you can always follow Gullible’s path which was glancing through “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Writing Poetry,” which resulted in the following:

    Gullible vs. The Wall

    Round One:

    Gullible is knocked to the gravel
    from a height of three feet
    by an extension ladder feint
    that tricked her
    into believing it was locked.
    It was not.
    Gully contemplates the sky
    until the count of 8.
    Scraped but no blood.

    Round Two:

    Stepladder/extension ladder
    in a forceful combination
    throw Gullible to the ground
    from four to five feet.
    She lands on bad shoulder
    in soft landscaping bark.

    Gully lies in bark
    taking inventory of all parts
    until the count of nine.
    No visible injuries,
    but the shoulder
    doesn’t work very well any more.

    Gullible is saved by the bell
    and retreats to her corner
    where she receives
    pharmaceutical assistance.

    Gullible respectfully declines
    to explain what happened
    on the grounds that
    doing so would prove
    her to be a total idiot
    rather than just a half.

    Round Three

    Third and final coat
    Of sealer applied.

    We had to go to
    the judge’s score cards
    to determine the winner.
    The score cards read
    Ladders 2, Gullible 0.

    However, Gullible is declared
    the winner because
    she was still standing
    at the end.

    The opponents were not.
    The stepladders were prone
    on the ground.
    The extension ladder
    is out on its feet.

  3. Gullies prose is replete
    With details of her near defeat
    How her runged opponent
    Caused her for a moment
    To lay face down in a pile of bark.

    While she checked for bones broken,
    She whispered the words yet unspoken,
    Remind me again of the virtue of Do It Yourself.

    Ever the trooper,
    She rose from her stupor
    And finished the finish on her castle.

    A word to the wise,
    Before you climb toward the skies,
    Stay well clear of extensions
    That have evil intensions.
    Call a handy-Man instead,
    Let him land on his head
    In your favorite flower bed.

  4. Ha! Ha! You guys are good! I’m like Ann – never caught the poetry bug.

    • I can never learn enough about writing. I used to think that I didn’t like to write, but now I do. I didn’t catch the bug so to speak. I am more curious to learn more about the mechanics of writing in general. The more I read about writing, the more inspired I get. 🙂

  5. When I first noticed this question there were no replies, and I have been thinking about it since. When in high school senior English we studied poetry for six weeks or so. A lot of time was spent on the mechanics of poetry, little on the area of expression. The term “iambic pentameter” haunts me today, some 48 years later.

    We read works of numerous poets, some which I carry today including Robert Frost. And I loved Sandberg’s “The Fog,” I can still recite it today. I loved it for its simplicity and free thought. I also memorized Poe’s “The Raven” my first venture into the dark side where I still wander on many days.

    I would suggest that perhaps reading a variety of poets would be a good start. As Gullible stated there is no substitute for reading poetry. I found numerous online sources for poetry as well. Poetry wears many masks, and there is an abundance of inspiring poetic thought floating around in the ether. God bless the internet!

    I am new to creative writing in earnest. I don’t consider myself a poet, but I enjoy writing poetically. My first serious “poem” was “The Whore” which I wrote over a couple days after observing a woman at a meeting I attended. I think I will post it in the poetry section.

    So, Ann, thanks for the question, glad I met you through your online workshop. Jeff

  6. My favorite types of poems are haikus because they are so compact. I’d love to convey so much in so little space! It’s a good illustration of the power of our minds. You don’t have to say much, and we complete the picture. 🙂

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