Sunday, 21 December 2008

Some recommended books for poets

Lucy, who blogs at Box Elder and Out with Mol, recently asked in the comments section here:

would you give suggestions for books you've found helpful both in reading and writing poetry?

so here are some suggested books:

1. The Poet's Manual and Rhyming Dictionary by Frances Stillman (published by Thames and Hudson) is an essential I think, it discusses aspects of poetry such as metre and rhyme, looks at form, such as sonnets and haiku and offers a very comprehensive rhyming dictionary.

2. Teach Yourself Writing Poetry by Matthew Sweeney and John Hartley Williams (published by Hodder and Stoughton) covers issues such as how to get started, working with rhyme and getting pubnlished and includes a number of exercises to help you along the way.

3. The Art and Craft of Poetry by Michael Bugeja (published by Writers Digest Books) looks at different types of poetry, such as nature poetry and war poetry and at different forms and discusses them in detail with lots of examples. The book is designed to be useful for at least three readings through with three tiers of exercises that build on each other depending on your level of experience. This is as far as I'm concerned the most inspiring book on how to write poetry.

None of these books are in my Christmas Giveaway, but two books I'm giving away that are relevant to this post are:

52 Ways of Looking at a Poem by Ruth Padel - a guide to close reading poetry with 52 poems. You can read my review of it on Read Write Poem here. This is a really useful guide to how to read a poem as fully as possible, but I did find it lacking in inspirational value, strangely given how inspiring i find Ruth padel as a poet.

Unleash the Poem Within by Wendy Nyemaster a guide to poetic form for women who are just starting to write poetry or who are unsure about when to use particular poetic forms, but is not a book i'd recommend to anyone who has experience in using form.

Finally I can recommend finding an anthology, any anthology, as long as it is edited by Neil Astley (eg Staying Alive or Being Alive). He knows what poetry is really about, understands the need for poetry to speak to the reader if it is to be of true value.

There is still time to enter my Giveaway by the way, you can find out more here.

17 comments:

Janice Thomson said...

Some interesting books - will have to look a couple of them up. Thanks for sharing these Juliet.
LOL word verification: bardish

The Weaver of Grass said...

Have added them to my list of books c.g.p. I do think that the more good poetry you read the better you get - but it is not always easy to decide what is "good" I find. Happy Christmas.

Rachel Fox said...

I really enjoyed the Neil Astley lecture at StAnza a few years ago. I like the way he thinks.

Gordon Mason said...

Sweeney's book is excellent.

Could I add:
Finding What You Didn't Lose by John Fox

Paul said...

I can recommend Stephen Fry's "An Ode Less Travelled." He is not very happy with the state of contemporary poetry but he is funny.

Rabbits' Guy said...

AH poetry. So fun to read but so hard to do and appreciate ... at least for me. Wonder how some people take to it so well and others don't ...

maekitso said...

Great stuff. I swear I was just about to ask you for some recommended readings. Merry Christmas, Juliet. See you in the New Year. Cheers.

Dave King said...

Thanks for that> I have or have read all except The Art and Craft of Poetry. I think I might well add it to my wish list.

Alison Wiley said...

What a helpful post -- thank you kindly!

Mistlethrush said...

Thanks for this - will look them up.

jem said...

In case I don't get by your blog again, best wishes for a great Christmas time.

Michelle said...

Thanks for the list. Staying Alive and Being Alive are wonderful anthologies.

Ted Kooser's The Poetry Home Repair Manual is brief, practical and wise. And another good anthology is Bloodaxe's Sixty Women Poets edited by Linda France.

Michelle said...
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Lucy said...

Bravo, thanks!

Sheralle said...
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joshua said...
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Rethabile said...

Alison Chisolm's "A Practical Poetry Course," quite practical and useful to the one who wants to learn how poetry can be written.