7.22.2022

Poetry's Possible Worlds

Poetry's Possible Worlds
Lesley Wheeler
Tinderbox Editions, 2022
208 pages
$ 20.00

In her debut essay collection, award-winning poet and critic Lesley Wheeler tells the story of her father’s unraveling. While she studies poetry in New Zealand on a Fulbright fellowship, his dishonesty smashes her parents’ marriage and destroys their savings. Nothing is resolved, even after his death. The past and present keep shifting.

Reading contemporary poetry helps Wheeler negotiate the crisis. Cognitive scientists use the term “literary transportation” to describe getting lost in a book—and poems can transport a person, too, not despite but because they are brief and full of gaps. Wheeler’s frank, lively essays demonstrate how traveling through a poem’s pocket universe can change people for the better.

6.22.2022

The Knowledge: Where Poems Come From and How to Write Them

The Knowledge: Where Poems Come From and How to Write Them
by David Kirby
Flip Learning (July 29, 2021)

A five-time teaching award winner and author of 35 books, David Kirby has written a lively and inviting guide to writing poetry for college students. The Knowledge: Where Poems Come From and How to Write Them, utilizes Kirby’s hospitable, inspirational, and expert voice to help students learn the complex, playful, and meditative art form of poetry.

The book’s four sections (“How to Write a Poem,” “How to Write a Really Good Poem,” “Immortality is Within Your Grasp,” and “You Graphomaniac, You”) are staggered to gradually build student confidence and skill, and include works from over 70 poets—including Joy Harjo, Terrance Hayes, Marilyn Nelson, Franny Choi, Emily Dickinson, and Natalie Diaz—to illuminate key points and spur student reflection and writing. The Knowledge, writes Kirby, helps students craft poems the way Jimi Hendrix talked about making music—“Learn everything, forget it, and play.”

Each chapter is brimming with tips and suggestions for writing great poems and concludes with summative talking points and dozens of unique prompts to nudge students to contribute to an art form that is “thrumming with life.”

To order: click HERE.

4.20.2022

Fishing for Lightning

Fishing for Lightning

ISBN: 9780702263378
Pages: 296

Fishing for Lightning gathers together acclaimed poet and critic Sarah Holland-Batt’s celebrated columns on Australian poetry. In fifty illuminating and lively short essays on fifty poets, Holland-Batt offers a masterclass in how to read and love poetry, opening up the music of language, form, and technique in her casual and conversational yet deeply intelligent style. From the villanelle and the verse novel, to the readymade, the remix and the sonnet, Holland-Batt’s essays delve into the richness of poetic and literary history, connecting the contemporary to the ancient.

4.08.2022

On Becoming a Poet

On Becoming a Poet
Susan Terris, Editor
Marsh Hawk Press, Inc., 2022
Pages:168

25 ORIGINAL ESSAYS and INTERVIEWS. An innovative anthology of essential information about the development of the writing craft—memoirs and interviews of outstanding poets from diverse backgrounds who recall the ways by which they made their start as writers.

Contributors include Jane Hirshfield, Arthur Sze, Denise Duhamel, David Lehman, Alfred Corn, Phillip Lopate, Sheila Murphy, Mary Mackey, Indigo Moor, Kim Shuck, Philip F. Clark, Gail Newman, Basil King, Denise Low, Sandy McIntosh, Jason McCall, Geoffrey O’Brien, Lynne Thompson, Burt Kimmelman, Eileen R. Tabios, Dennis Barone, Rafael Jesús González, Tony Trigilio, Stephanie Strickland, and Julie Marie Wade.

3.29.2022

Open Form in American Poetry

Open Form in American Poetry
by Burton Hatlen
ISBN 978-0-89101-131-6
310 pages, with 7 color plates; hardcover

"Burt Hatlen was a passionate critic, and a believer in the passion and commitments of the artists about whom he wrote. And this was an amazing list—among them Pound, Williams, Oppen, Zukofsky, Reznikoff, Rakosi, Bunting, Olson and Duncan, but also Boyle, Retallack, Stevens, Dorn, Enslin, H.D., Levertov, and Spicer. Despite being among the first people to write assiduously and systematically about the Objectivists, he always produced a 'second order' criticism—subtle, nuanced, sophisticated and deeply engaged (rather than a first order criticism of simple—if necessary—introduction and gloss). His perspicacity, accuracy, and penetration have been models for all critics who have followed his work. He was an authentic lover of poetry and of the hard poem. He was instrumental in putting writers and a whole part of U.S. poetry on the critical agenda. . . . Burt Hatlen was one of the critical minds who pioneered this field. He also brought critics and poets together to discuss poetry—while this move was not absolutely unique when he did it, it was still pioneering. We are all in his debt for the institutions he built and helped to build. . . . He did—in fact—several careers’ worth of writing, editing, thinking, and he was a major citizen of the profession, a figure of commitment and intensity.”
–from “Tribute to Burt Hatlen” by Rachel Blau DuPlessis, Professor Emerita, Temple University, published in PAIDEUMA 40 / SAGETRIEB 20

Scholar, poet, and professor Burton Hatlen (1936–2008) taught at the University of Maine for many years. He also was the Director of the National Poetry Foundation, where he oversaw its long list of book and journal publications, including editing the ground-breaking collection, George Oppen, Man and Poet. Although Professor Hatlen’s scholarly writing and poetics were well-known through his many essays in literary journals, he never compiled a volume of his own essays, always anticipating a new area of research with new insights. Open Form in American Poetry is thus the first published one-author collection of Burton Hatlen’s scholarly writing.

Student and lifelong friend of Burton Hatlen, poet Bruce Holsapple earned a PhD from SUNY Buffalo. He worked for many years as a speech-language pathologist in central New Mexico. He is the author of seven books of poetry, the most recent, Wayward Shadow, published by La Alameda Press. Holsapple is also the author of the award-winning study, The Birth of the Imagination; William Carlos Williams on Form, published by the University of New Mexico Press.

1.14.2022

Library of Small Happiness

Library of Small Happiness
by
Leslie Ullman
ISBN: 978-0-9972011-2-3
3: A Taos Press, 2017

In acclaimed poet Leslie Ullman’s fifth and newest book, she offers a glorious hybrid collection of essays, poems, and writing exercises. Inviting writers and serious readers into the spaces poetry can open up around us and inside us, Library Of Small Happiness focuses on aspects of craft while embracing a holistic approach that makes accessible the unique intelligence of poetry. The essay section of the book addresses subjects such as the interactive role between silence and utterance, finding the center of a poem, and the Golden Spiral as it applies to the structure of a work and the process of its creation. The exercise section offers prompts that can be used by writers, teachers, and students to generate surprising language, fresh imagery, and innovative territories for crafting poems.

1.11.2022

Vertical Art

A Vertical Art
Simon Armitage

A Vertical Art gathers the expansive and spirited public lectures delivered by Simon Armitage during his acclaimed four-year tenure as Oxford University Professor of Poetry. Armitage tries to identify a ‘common sense’ approach to an artform that can lend itself to grand statements and vacuous gestures, questioning both the facile and obscure ends of the poetry spectrum, asserting certain fundamental qualities that separate the genre from near-neighbours such as prose and song lyrics, examining who poetry is written for and its values and use in contemporary society. Above all, these are personal essays that enquire into the volatile and disputed definitions of poetry from the point of view of a dedicated reader, a practising writer and a lifelong champion of its power and potential.

12.30.2021

Subjects in Poetry

Subjects in Poetry
by Daniel Brown
Louisiana State University Press
160 pages / Paperback / 9780807176092 / November 2021

Daniel Brown’s Subjects in Poetry is the first book to examine the broad and imposing topic of poetic subject matter, probing both what poems are about and how that influences their content. It comprises one poet’s attempt to plumb the nature of his art, to ask how the selection of material remains a crucial yet unexplored area of poetic craft, and to suggest the vast range of possible subjects for poems.

The book begins by venturing a novel definition of “subject,” derived from Robert Frost’s dictum that poetry constitutes an “art of having something to say.” Brown posits that a poem can say something by expressing, evoking, or addressing. He considers each of these ways-of-saying in turn, first defining it and then looking at poems in which it predominates. Brown next makes a wide-ranging case for the value of subjects to poems, poets, and the art of poetry, especially at a time when many poems appear subjectless. He concludes the book with practical guidance on finding subjects, improving them, and realizing their potential.

Replete with thoughtful readings of poems both classic and contemporary, Subjects in Poetry should appeal to poets across all levels and readers interested in understanding the art and practice of poetry.

11.04.2021

How to Start Writing (and When to Stop)

How to Start Writing (and When to Stop)
by Wisława Szymborska
Translated from the Polish by Clare Cavanagh

In this witty “how-to” guide, Wisława Szymborska has nothing but sympathy for the labors of would-be writers generally: “I myself started out with rotten poetry and stories,” she confesses in this collection of pieces culled from the advice she gave—anonymously—for many years in the well-known Polish journal Literary Life.

She returns time and again to the mundane business of writing poetry properly, that is to say, painstakingly and sparingly. “I sigh to be a poet,” Miss A. P. from Bialogard exclaims. “I groan to be an editor,” Szymborska responds.

Szymborska stubbornly insists on poetry’s “prosaic side”: “Let’s take the wings off and try writing on foot, shall we?” This delightful compilation, translated by the peerless Clare Cavanagh, will delight readers and writers alike.
Perhaps you could learn to love in prose.

10.04.2021

Beginnings Of the Prose Poem

Beginnings of the Prose Poem-All Over the Place
Edited by Mary Ann Caws and Michel Delville

Paperback, 155 pages
Published March 7th 2021 by Black Widow Press

With its very title and its form based on contradiction, the prose poem is suitable to an extraordinary range of perception and expression, from the ambivalent (in content as in form) to the mimetic and the narrative (or even anecdotal). It has been suggested that the prose poem, like its not-so-distant cousin, free verse, was born in France out of a sense of frustration with the strict rules of 18th-century French neoclassicism. If so, these rules are to be thanked since the prose poem occasions even now a rapidly increasing interest. For the vast majority of poets and critics, its principal characteristics are those that would insure unity even in epiphanic brevity and poetic quality even without the line breaks of free verse: high patterning, rhythmic and figural repetition, sustained intensity, and compactness.

We are hoping that the readers of this anthology will both encounter something new, and feel inspired to remember other texts admired and loved, perhaps more poetically than prosaically. Even as the prose poem occupies a controversial space, hovering between genres, its reach is vast, as is the selection here from Blake in the late 18th century to Kharms in the 1920s. The multiply diverse tones range from the ironic and sharp-witted to a lyric flow, and the poets, from the more familiar to the less so, from the occidental to the oriental, from the expected, like the cubist prose poets Jacob and Reverdy, and from the well-known writers, like Colette, Wilde, Rilke, and Kafka, to the less expected: novelists like Joyce and Woolf, and the lesser-known in a joyous mixture of voices. —from the Introduction by Mary Ann Caws and Michel Delville

8.16.2021

Seen From All Sides

Seen From All Sides: Lyric and Everyday Life
by Sydney Lea
Green Writers Press, 2021

This book is a compendium of newspaper columns Sydney Lea composed in his tenure as Vermont Poet Laureate. He says he hopes these columns will continue to be of interest to poetry lovers and students, but above all to the common reader. Seeking at every turn to avoid jargon, he explores how the making of a poet’s art resembles the making of any reader’s life. For Lea, poetry and everyday life are deeply entangled.

8.11.2021

The Dharma of Poetry

The Dharma of Poetry
How Poems Can Deepen Your Spiritual Practice and Open You to Joy
by John Brehm

In The Dharma of Poetry, John Brehm shows how poems can open up new ways of thinking, feeling, and being in the world. Brehm demonstrates the practice of mindfully entering a poem, with an alertness, curiosity, and open-hearted responsiveness very much like the attention we cultivate in meditation. Complete with poetry-related meditations and writing prompts, this collection of lively, elegantly written essays can be read as a standalone book or as a companion to the author’s acclaimed anthology The Poetry of Impermanence, Mindfulness, and Joy.

7.29.2021

Next Word, Better Word

NEXT WORD, BETTER WORD
The Craft of Writing Poetry
Stephen Dobyns

St. Martin's Griffin, 2011, 288 pages.

This accessible writer's guide provides a helpful framework for creating poetry and navigates contemporary concerns and practices. Stephen Dobyns, author of the classic book on the beauty of poetry, Best Words, Best Order, moves into new terrain in this remarkable book. Bringing years of experience to bear on issues such as subject matter, the mechanics of poetry, and the revision process, Dobyns explores the complex relationship between writers and their work. From Philip Larkin to Pablo Neruda to William Butler Yeats, every chapter reveals useful lessons in these renowned poets' work. Both enlightening and encouraging, Next Word, Better Word demystifies a subtle art form and shows writers how to overcome obstacles in the creative process.

7.20.2021

Red Comet

Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath
by Heather Clark
Knopf Publishing Group, 2020
Hardcover, 1152 pages

The highly anticipated new biography of Sylvia Plath that focuses on her remarkable literary and intellectual achievements, while restoring the woman behind the long-held myths about her life and art. With a wealth of never-before-accessed materials--including unpublished letters and manuscripts; court, police, and psychiatric records; and new interviews--Heather Clark brings to life the brilliant daughter of Wellesley, Massachusetts who had poetic ambition from a very young age and was an accomplished, published writer of poems and stories even before she became a star English student at Smith College in the early 1950s.

Determined not to read Plath's work as if her every act, from childhood on, was a harbinger of her tragic fate, Clark evokes a culture in transition, in the shadow of the atom bomb and the Holocaust, as she explores Plath's world: her early relationships and determination not to become a conventional woman and wife; her conflicted ties to her well-meaning, widowed mother; her troubles at the hands of an unenlightened mental-health industry; her Cambridge years and thunderclap meeting with Ted Hughes, a marriage of true minds that would change the course of poetry in English; and much more.

6.01.2021

Into a Light Both Brilliant and Unseen

Into a Light Both Brilliant and Unseen
Conversations with Contemporary Black Poets
Edited by Malin Pereira

This volume includes unpublished interviews Pereira conducted with Wanda Coleman, Yusef Komunyakaa, Thylias Moss, Harryette Mullen, Cornelius Eady, and Elizabeth Alexander, as well as conversations with Rita Dove and Cyrus Cassells previously in print. Largely published since 1980, each of these poets has at least four books. Their influence on new generations of poets has been wide-reaching.

The work of this group, says Pereira, is a departure from the previous generation's proscriptive manifestos in favor of more inclusive voices, perspectives, and techniques. Although these poets reject a rigid adherence to a specific black aesthetic, their work just as effectively probes racism, stereotyping, and racial politics. Unlike Amiri Baraka's claim in "Home" that he becomes blacker and blacker, positioning race as a defining essence, these poets imagine a plurality of ideas about the relationship between blackness and black poetry. They question the idea of an established literary canon defining black literature. For these poets, Pereira says, the idea of "home" is found both in black poetry circles and in the wider transnational community of literature.

4.30.2021

The Craft of Poetry


The Craft of Poetry: A Primer in Verse
by Lucy Newlyn

A wonderfully accessible handbook to the art of writing and reading poetry—itself written entirely in verse.

How does poetry work? What should readers notice and look out for? Poet Lucy Newlyn demystifies the principles of the form, effortlessly illustrating key approaches and terms—all through her own original verse. Each poem exemplifies an aspect of poetic craft—but read together they suggest how poetry can evoke a whole community and its way of life in myriad ways.

In a series of beautiful meditations, Newlyn guides the reader through key aspects of poetry, from sonnets and haiku to volta and synecdoche. Avoiding glosses and notes, her poems are allowed to speak for themselves, and show that there are no limits to what poetry can communicate. Newlyn’s timeless verse will appeal to lovers of poetry as well as to practitioners, teachers, and students of all ages.

3.24.2021

The Lyric Now

The Lyric Now
JAMES LONGENBACH

128 pages | Paper $18.00
ISBN: 9780226716046
University of Chicago Press, 2020

In poet and critic James Longenbach’s title, the word “now” does double duty, evoking both a lyric sense of the present and twentieth-century writers’ assertion of “nowness” as they crafted their poetry in the wake of Modernism. Longenbach examines the fruitfulness of poetic repetition and indecision, of naming and renaming, and of the evolving search for newness in the construction, history, and life of lyrics. Looking to the work of thirteen poets, from Marianne Moore and T. S. Eliot through George Oppen and Jorie Graham to Carl Phillips and Sally Keith, and several musicians, including Virgil Thomson and Patti Smith, he shows how immediacy is constructed through language. Longenbach also considers the life and times of these poets, taking a close look at the syntax and diction of poetry, and offers an original look at the nowness of lyrics.

3.04.2021

Max Jacob

Max Jacob
A Life in Art and Letters
by Rosanna Warren
Norton, 2021 ISBN: 978-0-393-07885-5


A comprehensive and moving biography of Max Jacob, a brilliant cubist poet who lived at the margins of fame.

More than thirty years in the making, this landmark biography offers a compelling, tragic portrait of Jacob as a man and as an artist alongside a rich study of his groundbreaking poetry—in Warren’s own stunning translations. Max Jacob is a nuanced, deeply researched, and essential contribution to Modernist scholarship.

2.09.2021

The Power of Adrienne Rich

The Power of Adrienne Rich
A BIOGRAPHY
By Hilary Holladay
Hardcover | $32.50
Nov 17, 2020 | 496 Pages
ISBN 9780385541503

The first comprehensive biography of Adrienne Rich, feminist and queer icon and internationally revered National Book Award winning poet.

2.01.2021

Synthesizing Gravity

Synthesizing Gravity
Selected Prose
by Kay Ryan
Grove Press, 2020
ISBN: 978-0-8021-4858-2

The first-ever collection of essays by one of our most distinguished and distinctive poets, Pulitzer Prize-winner and former Poet Laureate of the United States Kay Ryan

12.16.2020

Instead of a Shrine

Instead of a Shrine
Eilean Ni Chuilleanain
University College Dublin Press
Hardback,2019
ISBN-13: 9781910820490

The seventh instalment in the Poet's Chair series, it is Eilean Ni Chuilleanain's tenure as Ireland's Professor of Poetry that provides the pretext for this book, a collection of three essays exploring the forces that affect the work of every practising poet.The first essay pays tribute to a valued friend and colleague of Ni Chuilleanain's, the late Pearse Hutchinson, as well as to the languages he used and the impact they had even on readers that did not fully understand them. The second looks at the response of the reader of poetry and at the often disparaging treatment of the poet in fiction, from P. G. Wodehouse to Flann O'Brien. In the third lecture, Ni Chuilleanain returns to her lifelong academic interest in the poetry of seventeenth-century England and calls on the work of poets as diverse as Bishop Henry King, Walt Whitman and Thomas Kinsella to explore poetry's relation to the ceremonies surrounding death in how it may both comment on and substitute for ritual.Elegantly designed and masterfully written, Instead of a Shrine offers a unique opportunity to return to - or, indeed, begin engaging with - the dynamic world of poetry.

11.10.2020

Counterclaims


Counterclaims: Poets and Poetries, Talking Back
H. L. Hix
ISBN-13 : 978-1628973310
Dalkey Archive Press (May 26, 2020)
254 Pages; $17.95.

In Counterclaims, renowned poet H. L. Hix has amassed the responses of more than one hundred and fifty of his fellow writers, scholars, and artists to a singular problem, simultaneously a set of questions and a call-to-arms: whether the old truths inherent in 20th-century poetics can still be adhered to today, or whether new truths might take their place and what might they be?

The answers collected in this volume from many of the greatest luminaries of their generation, writers young and old, from diverse backgrounds and cultures, form the basis of a new conversation; a step forward, not toward any one monolithic thesis or manifesto, but toward a new and ever adapting notion of poetry.

10.01.2020

Poetry: A Survivor's Guide

Poetry: A Survivor's Guide
By Mark Yakich
Bloomsbury Publishing, 2015
ISBN: 9781501309526

Playful and serious, unforgiving and compassionate, Poetry: A Survivor's Guide offers an original take on a subject both loved and feared. In a series of provocative and inspiring propositions, the act of reading a poem is made new, and the act of writing one is made over. Questions of poetry's difficulty, pretension, and relevance are explored with insight and daring. In an age of new media and social networking, this handbook-cum-manifesto provides fresh reverence for one of our oldest forms of art.

9.10.2020

A Driftwood Altar


A Driftwood Altar: Essays and Reviews
by Mark Ford
The Waywiser Press, 2005.
ISBN: 978-1-904130-16-1
paperback

Mark Ford is widely regarded as one of the most exciting and innovative British poets of his generation. His two collections, Landlocked (1992) and Soft Sift (2001) have been highly praised by poets and critics in Britain and America, and translated into numerous languages. He is also an incisive and alert commentator on the work of others; over the last fifteen years his articles and reviews have appeared on a regular basis in journals such as the London Review of Books, the Times Literary Supplement, the New York Review of Books, Poetry Review and the New Republic. A Driftwood Altar is Ford's own selection of the best of these pieces. They cover an impressive range of British, American and European authors, and cast a fascinating light on Ford's own development as a poet. He writes with particular verve on the eccentric and off-beat – on the likes of Mina Loy, F.T. Marinetti, the Australian hoax poet Ern Malley, the Oulipian Georges Perec, the brilliant, doomed Romantic Thomas Lovell Beddoes. These essays reveal a judicious eye for detail and an infectious interest in authors often overlooked by literary history. Yet Ford also tackles some of the major figures of the twentieth century, and his articles on canonical poets like Elizabeth Bishop and W.H. Auden offer provocative and compelling new perspectives on their work. A Driftwood Altar is a lucid, beguiling, and often hilarious collection of essays, and is sure to consolidate Ford's reputation as one of the foremost poet-critics of the age.

8.24.2020

Don't Read Poetry

Don't Read Poetry
A Book About How to Read Poems
by Stephanie Burt
2019
ISBN-13: 9780465094516
In Don’t Read Poetry, award-winning poet and literary critic Stephanie Burt offers an accessible introduction to the seemingly daunting task of reading, understanding, and appreciating poetry. Burt dispels preconceptions about poetry and explains how poems speak to one another–and how they can speak to our lives. She shows readers how to find more poems once they have some poems they like, and how to connect the poetry of the past to the poetry of the present. Burt moves seamlessly from Shakespeare and other classics to the contemporary poetry circulated on Tumblr and Twitter. She challenges the assumptions that many of us make about “poetry,” whether we think we like it or think we don’t, in order to help us cherish–and distinguish among–individual poems.