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The Poet's Companion presents brief essays on the elements of poetry, technique, and suggested subjects for writing, each followed by distinctive writing exercises. The ups and downs of writing life—including self-doubt and writer's block—are here, along with tips about getting published and writing in the electronic age. On your own, this book can be your "teacher," while The Poet's Companion presents brief essays on the elements of poetry, technique, and suggested subjects for writing, each followed by distinctive writing exercises. The ups and downs of writing life—including self-doubt and writer's block—are here, along with tips about getting published and writing in the electronic age. On your own, this book can be your "teacher," while groups, in or out of the classroom, can profit from sharing weekly assignments.


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The Poet's Companion presents brief essays on the elements of poetry, technique, and suggested subjects for writing, each followed by distinctive writing exercises. The ups and downs of writing life—including self-doubt and writer's block—are here, along with tips about getting published and writing in the electronic age. On your own, this book can be your "teacher," while The Poet's Companion presents brief essays on the elements of poetry, technique, and suggested subjects for writing, each followed by distinctive writing exercises. The ups and downs of writing life—including self-doubt and writer's block—are here, along with tips about getting published and writing in the electronic age. On your own, this book can be your "teacher," while groups, in or out of the classroom, can profit from sharing weekly assignments.

30 review for The Poet's Companion: A Guide to the Pleasures of Writing Poetry

  1. 4 out of 5

    Bjorn Sorensen

    A compassionate, readable, open and encouraging volume. I hope I have the courage and the stamina to write up to the level provided by this book. My review went from four to five stars in the months it took to read Poet's Companion, try at least one exercise from the choices at the end of each chapter, and do all 14 of the 20-minute writing exercises in the back of the book. I won't say that any of my poems are prize winners, just that I'm excited about them and have started to read parts of the A compassionate, readable, open and encouraging volume. I hope I have the courage and the stamina to write up to the level provided by this book. My review went from four to five stars in the months it took to read Poet's Companion, try at least one exercise from the choices at the end of each chapter, and do all 14 of the 20-minute writing exercises in the back of the book. I won't say that any of my poems are prize winners, just that I'm excited about them and have started to read parts of the book over again. The chapters "Writing the Erotic" and "The Shadow" were particularly helpful. Writing about sex can be revealing and/or sensual if done with sensitivity. And the shadow refers to the hidden parts of ourselves, good or bad, that would be healthy for us and the reader to open up about. It's not to say that we need tumultuous lives to be great writers, just that it's important to be authentic with one's experiences and voice, to let their own words ring true. "What matters in your work, ultimately," say Laux and Addonizio, "is not how much of it pleases an editor, but whether it has integrity." The first half of the book, "Subjects For Writing" is excellent, while the second half, "The Poet's Craft", is helpful but seems cut short. The writers bring up issues like meter, but only to expose the ideas and not to give a full explanation, which is up to the reader to find elsewhere. The Poet's Companion has book suggestions in the back. The 20-minute writing exercises really got me going - interesting lessons, and poems that require less than a half hour to create. Good first drafts were the result. I would love a whole book of those kinds of exercises. Poet's Companion would be of great use to groups that met on a regular basis, and for beginning poets more open to the world or advanced poets to study and write from on an individual basis. I hope to grow in the wisdom shared in this book.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Ken

    Kim Addonzio, a poet I admire, and Dorianne Laux, team up for this succinct, 10-to-15 page chaptered "how-to" book on writing poems that is perfect if you want something authoritative yet at the same time fairly brief. The first part covers typical subjects poets breach and how you might go about mining your own ideas for same. They include the family, writing itself, death and grief, the erotic, places, and poems of witness. Section Two treads into territory you'd expect from a book of this sor Kim Addonzio, a poet I admire, and Dorianne Laux, team up for this succinct, 10-to-15 page chaptered "how-to" book on writing poems that is perfect if you want something authoritative yet at the same time fairly brief. The first part covers typical subjects poets breach and how you might go about mining your own ideas for same. They include the family, writing itself, death and grief, the erotic, places, and poems of witness. Section Two treads into territory you'd expect from a book of this sort -- tips on using imagery, figurative language, rhyme, lines, and, my least favorite, meter. Happily, the meter wasn't a reader beater, as has been the case in other poetry books. Really. Keep it simple and straightforward, PLEASE. They did. Each chapter finishes with exercises on that chapter's point of emphasis. At the end, you get a whole section filled with 20-minute exercises. Use your poetic license -- do them all, some, or none. Be that way. Told with humor and grace, this 250-page book, while not perfect, is the best I've read so far in its category. And now the most important thing: Stop reading books about writing poetry and start writing poems. Oh. That.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Nikol

    This book should be subtitled: How to Ruin the Pleasures of Writing Poetry (aka Making Mistakes is WRONG). Honestly - if you need to be told WHAT to write about and HOW to do it, you should not be writing poetry. I understand that there are people who believe creative writing can be taught as anything else, but... - I have to disagree with all those who are buying books "how to write" thinking "I will become Tolstoy". Let me give you an example explaining why I'm against teaching poetry: I canno This book should be subtitled: How to Ruin the Pleasures of Writing Poetry (aka Making Mistakes is WRONG). Honestly - if you need to be told WHAT to write about and HOW to do it, you should not be writing poetry. I understand that there are people who believe creative writing can be taught as anything else, but... - I have to disagree with all those who are buying books "how to write" thinking "I will become Tolstoy". Let me give you an example explaining why I'm against teaching poetry: I cannot be taught Maths no matter what method you use because I simply am not talented for Maths. I believe that if you do not have talent for writing, there is not much you can do about it. Yes - you can learn how to write stuff mechanically, that can be taught, but this has nothing to do with creativity. On the other hand I do believe that creativity can be sparked, that if you have the right teacher - or rather the right mentor - you can make progress, you can discover other ways of writing and thinking, but that is something else. What the authors in this particular book do is not mentoring and sparking someone's imagination, but (at least throughout the first two parts) prescriptively ordering how to write and how not to write. Thus, they claim that in creative writing - and namely in writing poetry - there are limitations and rules we need to acknowledge and follow if we are to become poets. Restrictions in poetry? Nonsense! Telling me that I MUST try every point of view in my writing and that, let me quote, "a poem is a work of imagination, not your autobiography" (ok - so all those poets who were/are writing about stuff that was happening in their lives apparently misunderstood what is poetry about)? I honestly wanted to grab the book and throw it through the window (and I am usually very calm when it comes to books - even if I do not like the subject matter). But what is even worse: the authors do not only tell you all those unshakable truths about poetry, they also contradict themselves later on. While in the first chapter they are all lovey dovey about how poetry is about imagination and our life and there are no rules (rules? unbelievable!); in the second chapter they begin to throw at you what you MUST and MUSTN'T (or at least SHOULDN'T - as if there was a difference, still someone is prescribing you what to do). So - what made me read the whole thing and still mark some interesting passages and calm down? The third part called "the writing life". Frankly, dear authors should have written a book only on the writing life - their tone in this part of the book is light, funny, perfectly encouraging and soothing. It makes you stay positive even though it makes you also realize that being a poet can suck from time to time; it makes you understand that your poetry matters; and it taps you on the back saying "just write, write, write!". This, ladies and gentlemen, is the right thing a poet's companion should do - mentor you and encourage, not restrict and teach, because writing poetry simply cannot be taught. And for this and only this chapter I am glad I bought the book.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jeffrey (Akiva) Savett

    I've read several books on poetic craft; this, and Ted Kooser's Poetry Home Repair Manual are the best. The chapters here follow the pretty standard content, defining parts of the process and giving great examples from well known and fresh new poems. I found the most interesting and inspirational chapter to be "Stop Making Sense." I happen to pick this book up at a point in my artistic life in which I felt like I was beginning to repeat myself or that, at times, my poetry was becoming too cerebr I've read several books on poetic craft; this, and Ted Kooser's Poetry Home Repair Manual are the best. The chapters here follow the pretty standard content, defining parts of the process and giving great examples from well known and fresh new poems. I found the most interesting and inspirational chapter to be "Stop Making Sense." I happen to pick this book up at a point in my artistic life in which I felt like I was beginning to repeat myself or that, at times, my poetry was becoming too cerebral, my revisions, too clinical and neat. This chapter helped open me (and my poems) up to new ways of thinking about language. Though I meditate regularly and do a lot of intuitive and associative THINKING, I had yet to find those processes in my poetry. This book--this chapter in particular--helped me do that. Importantly, I began READING poets whom I had never found speaking a compelling language. Kenneth Koch in particular has become a real source of influence and inspiration. If you're serious about your craft and are looking for exercises which reinforce these lessons, this book is fabulous.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Allen Berry

    One of... No. THE best book I've ever read about poetry craft and writing. The examples and ideas were useful and challenging and even fun. I produced a new poem from every exercise. This is a book by poets for poets, the authors talk to you on your level rather than broadcasting from some ivory tower. Wonderful work! It was a pleasure to read both as a text and as a manual. I can't recommend it highly enough nor can I thank the authors enough short of offering them my first born...to raise, not One of... No. THE best book I've ever read about poetry craft and writing. The examples and ideas were useful and challenging and even fun. I produced a new poem from every exercise. This is a book by poets for poets, the authors talk to you on your level rather than broadcasting from some ivory tower. Wonderful work! It was a pleasure to read both as a text and as a manual. I can't recommend it highly enough nor can I thank the authors enough short of offering them my first born...to raise, not as a sacrifice or anything. Just sayin'.

  6. 5 out of 5

    John

    I've used this book, geared toward beginning poetry writing students, many times since its appearance, and it always suits my intentions for it, to provide specific, basic info on various aspects of poetry writing. The exercises and examples are terrific, and the book's tone is welcoming, friendly and supportive. It appeals to no specific aesthetic agenda, and its vision is far-ranging. For example, it's the only text of its kind that I'm aware of that has a chapter on writing the erotic.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Mozart

    I have read about 10-20 poetry guides. This is the best one yet! You can easily skip around to chapters you like, the poems in this book are contemporary, the authors use a real chill voice that gives you permission to make mistakes. The writing prompts, which there are TONS are top notch.

  8. 5 out of 5

    micah

    I read this for a university creative writing course, but I loved it; clear, actionable advice, great writing exercises, and immense readability. Highly recommended for people interested in writing poetry, or in advancing their use of language in writing.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Nikita A

    Great advice, insight, and poems throughout. Also charmingly outdated in regards to the “tech” chapters!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Quinn

    If you are going to take a class on writing poetry, if you are going to teach a class on poetry, if you want to know how poets write, this is THE book to read. Addonizio writes about the spiritual and mechanical methods of writing poetry--watching your surroundings, paying attention to your emotions, knowing when to use a similie or a metaphor--it's all in the book, along with foot and meter, examples of types of poems (sonnet, for example), and exercises. The exercises make the book. There is a If you are going to take a class on writing poetry, if you are going to teach a class on poetry, if you want to know how poets write, this is THE book to read. Addonizio writes about the spiritual and mechanical methods of writing poetry--watching your surroundings, paying attention to your emotions, knowing when to use a similie or a metaphor--it's all in the book, along with foot and meter, examples of types of poems (sonnet, for example), and exercises. The exercises make the book. There is a choice, and the choices give you a lot of leeway. There is another chapter on re-writing and editing, the hardest parts of sticking with a poem. In the back of the book is a chapter on various publications and organizations for poets, how to submit poetry, how to deal with rejection. If you want just one book on writing poetry, this is it.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Nicky

    I always thought of poetry as some far off inexplicable and ethereal kind of thing. This book is a concise and easy to follow guide to the art if poetry and a gateway to all of the literature that lies beyond. It doesn't read like a textbook, though it does instruct you of the different mechanics present in creative literature. All the while, the author is encouraging and let's you know that there are no hard and fast rules but still equips your creativity by going over every writing technique a I always thought of poetry as some far off inexplicable and ethereal kind of thing. This book is a concise and easy to follow guide to the art if poetry and a gateway to all of the literature that lies beyond. It doesn't read like a textbook, though it does instruct you of the different mechanics present in creative literature. All the while, the author is encouraging and let's you know that there are no hard and fast rules but still equips your creativity by going over every writing technique at your disposal. The major bonus are the writing exercises or prompts at the end of each chapter. They are all very original and interesting, which is hard to find and can really help when you have writers block! It us also important to note that this is not just a guide to poetry, but a review of all kinds of writing techniques while using poetry as an example for application, as if poetry is the building block to all creative writing. It was super interesting, gave excellent examples and explanations, while still using plain language. Unfortunately I rented this book from the bookstore and had to give it back, but i would recommend buying it and keeping it on the shelf for inspiration from the poetry it includes and writing ideas. It even has a section about getting published and websites where you can share and get feedback on your work. I'm not sure how relevant or outdated that section is but it sounds like it would be helpful in theory.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Donna

    I have owned this book for ages, used it for teaching, read parts of it here and there, but I finally read through it from cover to cover. I think it is a great teaching aid and excellent for beginning poets. I have used several of its exercises in classes with beginning or emerging poets. However, I think at this point in my life I was looking for some thoughts that went a bit beyond "show don't tell," "eliminate unneeded words," and "grammar is important." It is a well-written and thorough boo I have owned this book for ages, used it for teaching, read parts of it here and there, but I finally read through it from cover to cover. I think it is a great teaching aid and excellent for beginning poets. I have used several of its exercises in classes with beginning or emerging poets. However, I think at this point in my life I was looking for some thoughts that went a bit beyond "show don't tell," "eliminate unneeded words," and "grammar is important." It is a well-written and thorough book, however it is also a bit dated because of its attempt to include electronic publishing and the internet. I would still recommend this book to beginning and emerging poets - maybe for all poets to have in their library. The exercises can always be put to good use in times of "dry spells" and the advice is sound. We can all use reminders of what we may already know.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Doug

    This is your standard poetry book which anyone novice or experienced could use to learn or reference from. Kim Addonizio is a contemporary poet and offers the reader a nice spread of fellow contemporaries in the persuasion of exclusive genres like feminism, love, and African-American history as well as the more general stock. There's nothing counter-intuitive to this guide, nor is there anything especially enlightening. It's a very standard fare. The only thing this book really lacks is formalist This is your standard poetry book which anyone novice or experienced could use to learn or reference from. Kim Addonizio is a contemporary poet and offers the reader a nice spread of fellow contemporaries in the persuasion of exclusive genres like feminism, love, and African-American history as well as the more general stock. There's nothing counter-intuitive to this guide, nor is there anything especially enlightening. It's a very standard fare. The only thing this book really lacks is formalist poetry. There is one section on rhyme and even a half on the importance of sound in poetry but even those appear to be by contemporary authors for their lack of understanding or appreciation to the other half.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    What a great book. Approachable instruction in what poetry is, enabling appreciative because informed reading of poems and, if you choose, writing. I bought it to better understand something of the nuances inherent on poetry, so that i can better get it and want to read more. I was not disappointed. Found poets more of whose work I want to and will read, and find myself riffling through many poetry collections that I own (because I'm a literary person and am supposed to own such books) and reall What a great book. Approachable instruction in what poetry is, enabling appreciative because informed reading of poems and, if you choose, writing. I bought it to better understand something of the nuances inherent on poetry, so that i can better get it and want to read more. I was not disappointed. Found poets more of whose work I want to and will read, and find myself riffling through many poetry collections that I own (because I'm a literary person and am supposed to own such books) and really liking poems that now and again I'd read then gone onto the next one, and the next one. Now I am stopping and saying them and taking them in. Yes this book has made me a smarter and,so, better reader.

  15. 5 out of 5

    kylajaclyn

    I had to read this for my Poetry Workshop class, and I enjoyed it so much. I decided to finish reading it and keep it for future use. I have previously disliked the writing guides for two Creative Writing classes and my Craft of Poetry class. But this book is a well-rounded guide that truly spurs writers to get better. Talent cannot be manufactured. But it should always be nurtured, and you should always want to grow, no matter what your art. This book is divided into four sections: "Subjects fo I had to read this for my Poetry Workshop class, and I enjoyed it so much. I decided to finish reading it and keep it for future use. I have previously disliked the writing guides for two Creative Writing classes and my Craft of Poetry class. But this book is a well-rounded guide that truly spurs writers to get better. Talent cannot be manufactured. But it should always be nurtured, and you should always want to grow, no matter what your art. This book is divided into four sections: "Subjects for Writing," "The Poet's Craft," "The Writing Life," and "Twenty-Minute Writing Exercises." You can use all of these sections or only some of them. Almost every chapter within these sections has a poem for inspiration. This is one of the better guides out there. Let it lead you where it will.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Tana

    Her language in her poetry is accessible and straight forward, bringing the lens close up to the everyday world, much of it impoverished. She remains an intimate poet, taking on domestic scenes, rather than grand themes. Her philosophy about the language of everyday, helps me to see how she works.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Jorquera

    Really great collection and mini how to manuals. They also have some great writing exercises that are definitely ones I will be coming back to. Update 01: Still coming back to this and learning more from it each time// But also want an updated version!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Nina

    One of the few books about writing poetry that actually inspired me to pick up my notebook and write.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Richard Magahiz

    I checked this book out of the library and liked it so much I went and got my own copy. I knew about the two authors from their poems but did not know about this book based on their classroom experience with beginning writers until I just stumbled across it. It is packed with a number of practical tips and exercises to stimulate the writer. They really emphasize the importance of breaking preconceived ideas of how far a poet can go, giving lots of examples of some boundary breaking idea or techn I checked this book out of the library and liked it so much I went and got my own copy. I knew about the two authors from their poems but did not know about this book based on their classroom experience with beginning writers until I just stumbled across it. It is packed with a number of practical tips and exercises to stimulate the writer. They really emphasize the importance of breaking preconceived ideas of how far a poet can go, giving lots of examples of some boundary breaking idea or technique which they then encourage their readers and students to try out for themselves. Most of these were new to me and quite inspirational in a practical fashion. Although it dates from a number of years ago it doesn't feel dated, though I am sure if they revised it they would be able to come up with numerous new examples and techniques to talk about.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Lise Pomerleau

    This book was so inspiring. It made me want to do all the exercises suggested, so I could perhaps become the poet I've always dreamt I could be. I wish I could take the course with these two women. I also understood how to read poetry more deeply, finally gaining an appreciation of more modern poetry (though I still don't understand most poetry in literary journals. The prize-winners always leave me cold and wondering WTF?) I am purchasing this book to have a copy of my very own, and try some of This book was so inspiring. It made me want to do all the exercises suggested, so I could perhaps become the poet I've always dreamt I could be. I wish I could take the course with these two women. I also understood how to read poetry more deeply, finally gaining an appreciation of more modern poetry (though I still don't understand most poetry in literary journals. The prize-winners always leave me cold and wondering WTF?) I am purchasing this book to have a copy of my very own, and try some of the exercises when I have time!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Leda Frost

    Many students become overwhelmed at the thought of writing a poem, because they believe it must reflect the "big" issues, but the authors argue that the subject matter for profound insights into the human condition is much closer at hand, in the objects and memories of our everyday lives. They offer advice on how to transform feelings and observations into language and include exercises at the end of each chapter. The chapters on developing voice and revising could apply to any writer, and thoug Many students become overwhelmed at the thought of writing a poem, because they believe it must reflect the "big" issues, but the authors argue that the subject matter for profound insights into the human condition is much closer at hand, in the objects and memories of our everyday lives. They offer advice on how to transform feelings and observations into language and include exercises at the end of each chapter. The chapters on developing voice and revising could apply to any writer, and though the chapters on publishing are dated, the rest of the book stands the test of time.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Catherine

    This is a useful and informative book. I like Addonizio's work quite a lot and enjoyed her other book on poetry writing (the title escapes me) and I wanted to get poetry and writing back on the brain. So I read through this over the course of a few months, trying some of the various exercises. I really found it helpful and to be a good refresher for me. I plan to work through more of the exercises to get my writing muscle back into better shape.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kai Crawford

    Excellent book - informative and inspiring. Also discovered some poems I really loved: Marie Howe - Death, the last visit T. R. Hummer - Where you go when she sleeps Sharon Olds - Feared drowned Paul Monette - Here William Dickey - 5. The lumber company executive Edward Hirsch - For the Sleepwalkers Ruth Schwartz - Bath Maureen Micus Crisick - Suppose

  24. 4 out of 5

    Rob Baker

    Lots of great ideas about the hows, whys, and wherefores of writing (and reading) poetry, as well as plenty of excellent and novel mentor texts/sample poems (including some pretty edgy ones). Good for anyone, beginner or expert, or even writing teachers. The chapter on "Writing in the Electronic Age" is dated and can be safely skipped.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Alexander Scholtz

    The Poet’s Companion is a treasure, at least to me. It is carefully filled with selected poems by contemporary poets to illustrate certain techniques and points the writers of this book are making. Also, the exercises they provide are very helpful. I was really excited reading this book, without even doing the exercises. I can’t wait to give it a second read.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kathy Estime

    A really good starter book if you want to get into poetry. This was a book I needed for a class and we read through many of the chapters. The Professor had us write non-rhyming poems to help us truly get a grasp on poetry writing. Overall, I really enjoyed this guide book and would recommend it to both novice and expert, as both a guide and or refresher.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    I had to read most of the chapters of the book for school. When it comes to forms in poetry this book was mostly helpful. If nothing else it is an encouraging read as it inspires the poet to foster the enjoyment of writing and creativity.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Laurel

    A wonderful book for aspiring and veteran poets. Each section focuses on a specific aspect of poetry and provides examples and exercises. I particularly like the prompts at the back of the book to get writing flowing.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Ghassan Samaha

    Poems...are letters of engagements crafted for the sole reader. They are the experiences we share...a living word that is hidden. Or a secret that lives on. Poems are not to be dictated, let the true word and sound voice break the rule and swim in its SPIRIT.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Melanie

    A terrific book to use for beginning poetry classes. The chapters on craft are especially strong, and the book is worth it for the sheer volume of prompts at the end of each chapter. I am often thanked by students years later after I assigned this book; a keeper.

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