Books on Poetry

Here will reside books that I would recommend for writing poetry.  Individual poets work I will comment on in the main blog.

So first up is Stephen Fry's  The Ode Less Traveled -Unlocking the Poet Within, possibly the best how to book for traditional poetry I have come across.  Easy to understand and filled with the customary Fry wit. If its sound, meter and rhyme that you like about poetry this is a great place to start.  I also think that despite the fact that most published poetry today is Free Verse, its good to have a grounding in history to understand what later poets are reacting to.  A fellow poet remarked to me that if you are going to play with metre and rhyme it needs to be done well and my response to that is that practice makes perfect.

Teach Yourself - Writing Poetry - is as the title suggests a way to teach yourself how to write poetry. Some 20 odd chapters with examples and exercises that focus on a range of things like metre, visualization, choosing subject matter.  You could go from start to finish and or return to the book and take chapters that interest you.

When it comes to Haiku, I religiously recommend Jane Reichhold's Writing and Enjoying Haiku - A Hands on Guide.  

A lot of this material could be gleaned from her website but I find this book, which is roughly A5 in dimensions great for travelling or taking with you when you go on a ginko walk.  If you roll your eyes at Haiku and think there's nothing more to haiku than 5-7-5 nature poems, then this book will shatter those misconceptions but give you some explicit teaching on how to write Haiku, without the quasi mystical paraphernalia that goes with some schools of Haiku poetry.  

I also think writing Haiku sharpens the poets eye and is great from directing that eye outward.

A Poet's Guide to Poetry by Mary Kinzie is my latest find.  It's very dense, in the sense that Kinzie packs it full of concepts.  I come to this book after writing poetry seriously for two years and having some success with publication.  It's the only work that I have seen that really gets down in the nuts and bolts of Free Verse, that talks about tension between sentence and line.  This book shows you as a reader and a poet how much you don't know.  It gives you the critical tools to analyse your's and other's poetry.  Not for the beginner but a must have if you are serious about poetry - Free verse or Form

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