The Practice of Poetry: Writing Exercises From Poets Who Teach
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A distinctive collection of more than 90 effective poetry-writing exercises combined with corresponding essays to inspire writers of all levels.
words on a blackboard, with everyone writing at once. I like the scrawly chaos this creates. Talk about the words, their associations, pairings, juxtaposition, and possible phrasings. Organize the words into meaning chunks like images, sentences, or haiku. From the individual decks, each writer selects five words to contribute to a communal pile of words. Sometimes words can be organized into lines to effect a poem. Sometimes rhyming words as fast as possible sparks further associations.
won’t curl up now: So you find a bigger box, and bury her in the yard, and weep. But you do not wake up a month from then, two months, A year from then, two years, in the middle of the night And weep, with your knuckles in your mouth, and say Oh, God! Oh, God! Childhood is the kingdom where nobody dies that matters,—mothers and fathers don’t die. And if you have said, “For heaven’s sake, must you always be kissing a person?” Or, “I do wish to gracious you’d stop tapping on the window with
to the literal referent (Minotaur?). Give yourself five minutes. Pick a word, at first glance, from each column, then write down all the non sequitur images you get for each one. See where this takes you. See what connections occur among the columns. Circle the words that seem most vivid and evocative, that seem to reverberate with intention. Take another five minutes. Try these words in lines. Experiment; allow your intuition to lead you. Don’t frighten yourself; trust what comes up. If you want
beginning: that revision will appear at the back of the book you are now holding in your hands. That the very geography of this volume will enact our sense of the shape writing takes: first we compose, then we revise. First vision, then revision. Even the subjective and inventive and intimate act of writing can be described in terms of temporal progression and shape. But if I look into the heart of myself as I compose, as I sit here this very moment appearing to be a composed and coherent voice,
1927–1979. Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1979. “The House in the Wood.” Jarrell, Randall. The Complete Poems. Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1975. “The Instruction Manual.” Ashbery, John. Selected Poems. Penguin, 1985. “The Lady of the Castle.” Hollander, John. Spectral Emanations. Atheneum, 1978. The Light Around the Body. Bly, Robert. Harper & Row, 1985. “The Lilacs.” Wilbur, Richard. Walking to Sleep, New Poems and Translations. Harcourt, Brace & World, 1969. “The Lost Pilot.” Tate, James. The Lost