The Art of Writing Poetry

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Read all about the art of writing poetry from those who do it. This book list includes selections in which poets discuss their craft, handbooks on how to write poetry, as well as some poetry by C.D. Wright.

Poets discuss their craft | How to write poetry | Poetry by C.D. Wright

Related event:
A Conversation with Poet C.D. Wright, Mar. 11

Poets discuss their craft

Interview with a Ghost
By Tom Sleigh
In Interview with a Ghost, poet Tom Sleigh investigates poetry from his conviction that "while art and life are separable, they aren't separate." These essays explore issues of selfhood that are often assumed but not adequately confronted by contemporary poetry-- namely, subjectivity and its limits, what it means to employ the first person in a poem, the elusive "I" with all of its freighted aesthetic and psychological implications. The works of poets such as Anne Bradstreet, Sir Walter Raleigh, Robert Lowell, Thom Gunn, and Frank Bidart are examined, as are Sleigh' s own poems in the contexts of history and private life, disease and health, the realm of the spirit and the realm of the day to day.

Giving Their Word: Conversations with Contemporary Poets
Compiled by Steven Ratiner
Based on a three-year series of interviews conducted by Steven Ratiner for the Christian Science Monitor, this book offers extended conversations with twelve of the most influential poets writing today. Their comments are wonderfully detailed, refreshingly honest, and provide the sort of intimate introduction to both poet and text that readers are rarely privileged to enjoy. Included are conversations with William Stafford, Mary Oliver, John Montague, Charles Simic, Seamus Heaney, Donald Hall, Maxine Kumin, Carolyn Forche, Martin Espada, Marge Piercy, Rita Dove, and Bei Dao.

Talking with Poets 
Edited by Harry Thomas
The five interviews in this book were conducted by students in "The Art of Poetry," a course that Harry Thomas taught for several years. The students' depth of knowledge and keenness of insight into the poets' work is an affirmation of American education. The poets take up a great range of matters in the interviews--the nature of artistic creation, the varieties and difficulties of poetic translation, poetry and politics, religion, popular culture, the contemporary readership for poetry, and the experience of living as a poet in a country not your own.

 A Celebration of Poets and Their Craft book jacket

Fooling with Words: A Celebration of Poets and Their Craft
Interviews by Bill Moyers
This collection of poems from the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival, the "Woodstock of poetry," is an inspirational celebration of the power and pleasure poetry. This companion volume to Moyers's annual coverage of the event on PBS captures not only the poetry, but the voices of the poets as well as they talk with him about their sources of creativity.

Conversations with Rita Dove
Edited by Earl G. Ingersoll
In 1993, Rita Dove became the nation's youngest and first female African American Poet Laureate. This collection of interviews offers a fascinating portrait of her.

Arts of the Possible: Essays and Conversations
By Adrienne Rich
This volume collects Rich's essays from the last decade of the 20th century, including four earlier essays. They trace a distinguished writer's engagement with her time and her arguments with herself and others.

Spontaneous Mind: Selected Interviews, 1958-1996
By Allen Ginsberg; edited by David Carter
Provocative and illuminating, this collection recreates the impassioned voice of one of the most influential literary and cultural figures of our time. The interviews collected in this volume--chronologically arranged and in some cases previously unpublished--were conducted throughout Allen Ginsberg's career.

How to write poetry

A Poetry Handbook book jacket

A Poetry Handbook
By Mary Oliver
With passion, wit, and good common sense, the celebrated poet Mary Oliver tells of the basic ways a poem is built--meter and rhyme, form and diction, sound and sense. Drawing on poems from Robert Frost, Elizabeth Bishop, and others, the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winner imparts an extraordinary amount of information in a short space.

The Poetry Home Repair Manual: Practical Advice for Beginning Poets
By Ted Kooser
U. S. Poet Laureate from 2004-06, Ted Kooser has been writing and publishing poetry for more than forty years. In the pages of The Poetry Home Repair Manual, Kooser brings those decades of experience to bear. Here are tools and insights, the instructions (and warnings against instructions) that poets--aspiring or practicing--can use to hone their craft, perhaps into art. Using examples from his own rich literary oeuvre and from the work of a number of successful contemporary poets, the author schools us in the critical relationship between poet and reader, which is fundamental to what Kooser believes is poetry's ultimate purpose: to reach other people and touch their hearts.

The Ode Less Travelled: Unlocking the Poet Within
By Stephen Fry
Bestselling novelist, comedian, and actor Stephen Fry presents a witty and practical guide that's designed to give the aspiring poet or student the tools and confidence to write and understand poetry.

How to Write a Poem
By John Redmond
Through a series of chapters designed as useful provocations, Redmond steers readers away from the “default contemporary poem,” urging fresh ways of thinking, insisting on “the promise and opportunity of the blank page.” Traditional chapter topics like the sestina and the sonnet are abandoned in favor of more inspiring themes like variety, scale and background. The book draws on a wide array of examples, from sixth-century Ireland to contemporary Poland, and diverse cultural analogies from baseball to film. Rather than thinking of poems and having meanings, the book suggest that we should think of them of being like plays, or computer games, as experiences designed for the reader's benefit.

Writing Poems
By Robert Wallace and Michelle Boisseau
This book offers comprehensive coverage of the creative process and the technical aspects of writing poetry. Filled with practical advice and numerous examples, Writing Poems is appropriate for both the beginning and advanced poet. Its anthology of classic and contemporary poems enlivens its readers' understanding of poetry, illustrates poetic principles, and, above all, inspires writing. With clear explanations, a lively presentation, and in-depth discussions, this book demystifies the process of writing poems and provides the guidance needed to help writers improve their craft.

By C.D. Wright

Rising, Falling, Hovering book jacket

Rising, Falling, Hovering
By C.D. Wright
C.D. Wright is one of America's leading poets, an artist of idiosyncratic vision who demands ever more from words and poems. In short lyrics and long sequences, Wright's language is ever-sharpened with political ferocity as she overlays voices from the United States, Oaxaca, Baghdad, and the borderlands between nations, to reveal the human struggle for connection and justice during times of upheaval and grief.

Steal Away: Selected and New Poems
By C.D. Wright
C.D. Wright is a fearless poet long admired for her authentically erotic verse. With a Southern accent and cinematic eye she couples strangeness with uncanny accuracy, bundling fragments of stories to create poems that are, as she describes them, "succinct novels." Wright's poems are simultaneously modern and deeply primal; they are "pheromonal." Gathering work from her eight previous volumes, Steal Away weaves new work with Wright's best lyrics, narratives, prose poems, and odes.

Deepstep Come Shining
By C.D. Wright
Rebellious and fiercely lyrical, the poems of C.D. Wright incorporate elements of disjunction and odd juxtaposition in their exploration of unfolding context. Deepstep Come Shining is a single long poem based loosely on a road trip through the rural South.

Tremble
By C.D. Wright
In an acclaimed collection of taut, sensual poetry, award-winning poet C.D. Wright interweaves familiar, colloquial speech with strikingly inventive language, leaving each poem a distinctive entity, yet interconnected by linked metaphors and images.

Book descriptions provided by BookLetters.

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