Books about Reading and Writing Poetry

AW Admin

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Apr 19, 2008
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These are books by poets, mostly, but not exclusively.

Links are AW Amazon Affiliate links, but your local independent bookstore and library will have some if not all of them.

Robin Behn. The Practice of Poetry: Writing Exercises From Poets Who Teach. ISBN: 978-0062730244. I haven't read this; it's been recommended by a few poets and teachers I know.

Eavan Boland. The Making of a Poem: A Norton Anthology of Poetic Forms. The cover heading subtitle is important: “A Norton Anthology of Poetic Forms." This is an anthology of examples of various forms of verse (sonnet, lyric, ballad, villanelle, sestina, etc.). Each chapter discusses a specific form, what makes it unique, and then offers examples. ISBN: 978-0393321784.

John Hollander. Rhyme's Reason: A Guide to English Verse. I like this book a lot; this is from a poet who loves poetry and words, and wants to share his joy and encourage others to read poetry. So, yes, it's about reading poetry more than writing, but still useful to poets who want to be read.

Ted Kooser. The Poetry Home Repair Manual: Practical Advice for Beginning Poets. ISBN: 978-0803259782. Kooser is a former American Poet Laureate, and a much published poet. I like this book particularly for the way he encourages poets to write with the understanding that they will be read. It's practical advice, without being too preachy or analytical.

Mary Oliver. A Poetry Handbook. ISBN: 978-0156724005.

Mary Oliver. Rules for the Dance: A Handbook for Writing and Reading Metrical Verse. ISBN: 978-0395850862.
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Jul 18, 2021
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I’d also recommend The Teachers & Writers Handbook of Poetic Forms by Ron Padgett.