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Writing Poetry for Everyday Life "Poetry is just the evidence of life," says Leonard Cohen. "If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash." You don't need an advanced degree to reap the rewards of a rich poetic life–writing poetry is within the reach of everyone. Poet Sage Cohen invites you to slow down to the rhythms of your creative process and savor poetry by: Offe Writing Poetry for Everyday Life "Poetry is just the evidence of life," says Leonard Cohen. "If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash." You don't need an advanced degree to reap the rewards of a rich poetic life–writing poetry is within the reach of everyone. Poet Sage Cohen invites you to slow down to the rhythms of your creative process and savor poetry by: Offering explorations of the poetic life and craft Inspiring a feeling of play instead of laborious study Weaving together lessons in content, form, and process to provide a fun and engaging experience Inviting you to add poetry to your creative repertoire Writing the Life Poetic is the inspirational companion you've been looking for to help you build confidence in your poetic voice. It takes poetry from its academic pedestal and puts it back into the hands of the people. Join the conversation with other poets at: www.writingthelifepoetic.typepad.com.


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Writing Poetry for Everyday Life "Poetry is just the evidence of life," says Leonard Cohen. "If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash." You don't need an advanced degree to reap the rewards of a rich poetic life–writing poetry is within the reach of everyone. Poet Sage Cohen invites you to slow down to the rhythms of your creative process and savor poetry by: Offe Writing Poetry for Everyday Life "Poetry is just the evidence of life," says Leonard Cohen. "If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash." You don't need an advanced degree to reap the rewards of a rich poetic life–writing poetry is within the reach of everyone. Poet Sage Cohen invites you to slow down to the rhythms of your creative process and savor poetry by: Offering explorations of the poetic life and craft Inspiring a feeling of play instead of laborious study Weaving together lessons in content, form, and process to provide a fun and engaging experience Inviting you to add poetry to your creative repertoire Writing the Life Poetic is the inspirational companion you've been looking for to help you build confidence in your poetic voice. It takes poetry from its academic pedestal and puts it back into the hands of the people. Join the conversation with other poets at: www.writingthelifepoetic.typepad.com.

30 review for Writing the Life Poetic: An Invitation to Read & Write Poetry

  1. 4 out of 5

    Tiara Dee

    In the past, so much writing on writing" has seemed stiff to me. I have not read many writers that focus on the inner life of the artist, the technical aspects of writing AND the spiritual benefits of writing. However, SAGE COHEN does all of these things and so much more. Only a poet could pull it off. That being said, if you love writing or if you want to start or even if you want to learn how to appreciate life more and appreciate the present more, I would recommend that you read this book ASAP In the past, so much writing on writing" has seemed stiff to me. I have not read many writers that focus on the inner life of the artist, the technical aspects of writing AND the spiritual benefits of writing. However, SAGE COHEN does all of these things and so much more. Only a poet could pull it off. That being said, if you love writing or if you want to start or even if you want to learn how to appreciate life more and appreciate the present more, I would recommend that you read this book ASAP. I would like to end with a quote from the book that I think really sums up everything I read. "One of the few things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in a book, or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now...Something more will arise for later, something better. These things fill from behind, from beneath, like well water. Similarly, the impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful, it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lose to you. You open your safe and find ashes." -Annie Dillard

  2. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Joyce Bryant

    The first thing I noticed about Writing the Life Poetic when I opened up my package was the beautiful cover. Already, before even opening the book up to the first page, my senses were heightened by the brilliant designs and colors. When I ran my fingers over the cover of the book I was pleasantly surprised by the raised designs (especially on the back cover) and the raised text. Just holding the book was a poetic experience. Then I opened it – Wow! I was struck by the contrast between the bright The first thing I noticed about Writing the Life Poetic when I opened up my package was the beautiful cover. Already, before even opening the book up to the first page, my senses were heightened by the brilliant designs and colors. When I ran my fingers over the cover of the book I was pleasantly surprised by the raised designs (especially on the back cover) and the raised text. Just holding the book was a poetic experience. Then I opened it – Wow! I was struck by the contrast between the bright white paper, the text, the colors, and the illustrations. Without reading a word my creative mind had already been given a jumpstart. I was a closet poet for nearly twenty years and when I finally had the courage to submit some poetry for critique I realized how much I did not know about poetry. I was discouraged and even considered not writing poetry anymore because it all seemed too complicated and then I saw an advertisement in Writer’s Digest for this book. I thought I would give it a try and I am so glad that I did. My reading of Writing the Life Poetic coincided with a 30-day poetry writing regimen that I participated in and I had the chance to incorporate much of Sage Cohen’s advice with great results. Her instructions are clear and concise and so easy to understand even for a beginner like me. The chapters are short but provide a wealth of information and encouragement. I read one chapter per day and this easily fit into my hectic schedule. Eighty days later I was not only writing more poetically, I was living more poetically. What Cohen has taught me through these beautiful pages has helped me in all of my writing: poetry, personal essays, and memoir. She has taught me that there is poetry to be found in even the most minute and mundane of things; in the things that might be overlooked even discarded otherwise. She has taught me that it is the awareness of the world around me and the writing of that awareness that is so important even if at first glance I do not consider what I write to be “top quality”. I recommend this book to beginner and experienced poets and writers alike. Beginners will get a guide book on how to embrace the poetry within and around them. Those with experience will get a fresh perspective on reading and writing poetry and expand their creative minds to higher levels. I also recommend Cohen’s book of poetry, Like the Heart, the World, which will, after reading, unequivocally convince you that she knows of what she writes. Sage Cohen also has a Writing the Life Poetic blog that you can subscribe to and it is a must read for all the fans of her book. It will provide you with a continuation of the same fresh poetic view of life that is seen within the pages of this book.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    This marvelous book is chock-full of good information. The subtitle, "An Invitation to Read & write Poetry," emphasizes the point. There is no finger-wagging or stern admonishment. The book invites you to read and write poetry. You can pick it up and open to a page, any page, and find something to ruminate on. There are writing prompts, exercises, bulleted lists. useful links. You may find yourself scratching away before you know it. The author cites some favorite pieces of literature, including This marvelous book is chock-full of good information. The subtitle, "An Invitation to Read & write Poetry," emphasizes the point. There is no finger-wagging or stern admonishment. The book invites you to read and write poetry. You can pick it up and open to a page, any page, and find something to ruminate on. There are writing prompts, exercises, bulleted lists. useful links. You may find yourself scratching away before you know it. The author cites some favorite pieces of literature, including the children's classic, The Velveteen Rabbit, and the Wallace Stevens' poem, "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird." And, the book even has an index! (The editor in me is jumping for joy.) The book is illustrated with whimsical, somewhat Cubistic line drawings by Gregoire Vion, which add to the message of playfulness over "laborious study." The next time I'm headed to a weekend retreat, or even just an afternoon away from the hubbub, I'm taking this book with me. I'll leave you with a quote from a favorite chapter, "Cultivate a Writing Anti-Ritual": Shake Yourself Awake "If you don't have a baby, have one. If you have a baby, get a sitter. If you work too much, work more. If you don't work enough, work less... If you don't drink, start. If you drink, sober up. If you're in school, drop out. If you're out of school, drop in. If you believe you have a year to live, imagine you have a hundred. If you believe you have a hundred years to live, imagine you have only one. If you're sane, go crazy. If you're crazy, snap out of it. If you've got a partner, break up. If you're single, find a lover! The shock of the new--shake yourself awake." --Ariel Gore

  4. 4 out of 5

    Lyn

    This book is like two adults sitting a table sharing ideas about poetry and writing. I loved how engaging the writing was and the amazing suggestions from beginning to end. I felt like I was losing my best friend on the last page. I will definitely refer back to this book over and over. Thank you Sage Cohen for Writing the Life Poetic, I truly felt you got me. In real life, we would have lots of fun exploring poetry together, we already do!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Caroline

    Writing the Life poetic was published in 2009 although I’ve only recently come across it. The blurb describes it as ‘the inspirational companion you’ve been looking for to help you build confidence in your poetic voice’. It is organised into eighty short chapters with a discussion and a try this section of exercises. I wish I had found this book when I was starting out writing poetry. It would have been so useful and encouraging. As I’m now a little further on with my poetry some of the ideas I Writing the Life poetic was published in 2009 although I’ve only recently come across it. The blurb describes it as ‘the inspirational companion you’ve been looking for to help you build confidence in your poetic voice’. It is organised into eighty short chapters with a discussion and a try this section of exercises. I wish I had found this book when I was starting out writing poetry. It would have been so useful and encouraging. As I’m now a little further on with my poetry some of the ideas I already knew about. There as a lovely little shock of recognition when I came across the Small Stones chapter – Fiona Robyn’s idea which Sage Cohen shares so it can reach a wider audience. So I’ve already been writing small stones and I was familiar with other suggestions like reading lots and lots of poetry. But there were still things to learn or be reminded of in this book. Poetry as Tonglen practice being one – ‘any time you are confronted with something that feels too difficult to bear, return to the blank page, and write yourself through it’. Spending more than you save – which takes Annie Dillard’s suggestion that ‘you should not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book or for another book, give it, give it all, give it now… Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes'. I liked the reminders in Chapter 55 – the Art of All day. Grace Paley responding to a question about how she managed to fit it all in (being a mother, wife, writer, teacher and activist) said ‘Well I have all day’. Sage Cohen suggests you use this for a ‘cup is overflowing’ day in which instead of worrying about the time you don’t have to write, instead you focus on every scrap of time that you do have. The ten minutes in the waiting room, the fifteen minutes on the bus or train. I used to do that every day. How come I’d forgotten? Oh and I must mention that the book is also full of poems as examples. So for me it was a book to dip into, to remind myself why it was I started writing poetry in the first place and strategies for putting it centre stage

  6. 4 out of 5

    Amy Harper

    Wonderful tips for a beginning poet, as well as prompts for a practiced poet. This is a good reference book for getting back to the basics of why we write poetry. It is a thorough look at all aspects of writing poetry: from starting out, to publishing, to bringing a project to fruition. It is peppered with great poems that introduce the subject of the chapter at hand. And the illustrations are whimsical and fun. I highly recommend it. I will use it in the classroom as well.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jon

    I never thought that embellishing my everyday could be this much fun! The poet-making 'baby-steps' revealed by Sage Cohen are every one inviting and worthwhile on their own. She's a master of play and perception. I expect this book to be a delight for years to come. The collage of text and fanciful illustration make it a good one for those daily private minutes. You know, like when you're falling asleep. :~)

  8. 5 out of 5

    Sandra Helen

    This book started me back on the road of writing poetry, after more than half my life of not writing in this medium. Sage is a great teacher. And I am using this book daily. It is not just a book to read, it is a workbook as well.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Catherine Johnson

    Best book on craft of poetry ever, since it has so many prompts and suggestions for you to experiment with. I'll be ages going through them all, maybe my whole life!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Lucy Hester

    A-Z for all kinds of poets. Highly recommend.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Bjorn Sorensen

    The following review appears in the March/April 2009 edition of the Colonygram, the newsletter of the Oregon Writers Colony: WIDE EXPANSE: THE POETIC CANVAS OF SAGE COHEN While reading Sage Cohen’s guide to creating poetry, Writing the Life Poetic, I saw a bridge open up before me, crossing the Willamette River into western Portland. I was on one side, ruminating about my literary insecurities, my smooth poems and the many that, to put it politely, needed work (read: jackhammer and saw) and what The following review appears in the March/April 2009 edition of the Colonygram, the newsletter of the Oregon Writers Colony: WIDE EXPANSE: THE POETIC CANVAS OF SAGE COHEN While reading Sage Cohen’s guide to creating poetry, Writing the Life Poetic, I saw a bridge open up before me, crossing the Willamette River into western Portland. I was on one side, ruminating about my literary insecurities, my smooth poems and the many that, to put it politely, needed work (read: jackhammer and saw) and what my writing voice could become. On the opposite side of the bridge was Cohen, waving at me to come across, where all the words I had put to paper and would put to paper were floating around, like the trees going up the hills of Forest Park, where in fact an entire poetry community was waiting for me like an welcoming, empowering Verizon Wireless “It’s the Network” commercial (but without the two year contract). I found a quote in the middle of Sage Cohen’s book that I kept returning to: "In a culture where we like things black and white, right and wrong, poetry says YES. What if there were no right or wrong - only poetry? What if everything we could possibly dream up were acceptable? Fabulous? Enough? Poetry can be your own personal oasis of invention, where you can do no wrong." What Cohen strives for is no less an encouraging, powerful, limitless manifesto to poets and writers everywhere. Instructional without being text-bookish, inspirational without being preachy, suggestive without being demanding, Writing the Life Poetic goes beyond the assemblage of quality how-to poetry books to become a work of art - with endless rows of blank canvasses on either side for the reader’s own brush strokes. I was most impressed by Cohen’s adroit ability to turn so many poetic stereotypes on their head and give them a welcome burst of light and warmth. Not knowing everything about writing or other poets gives one an endless set of possibilities. Not making much money from poetry means one is free of editorial trimmings a novelist, for example, often gets. Having writer’s block means the writer can sit there, quiet down, let everything just be as it is - and let the inspiration to create slowly seep back in. Sets of poetry rules - and comments about one’s work from other poets - can be used or discarded freely. Above all: write. Cohen provides numerous questions this reader felt encouraged to answer, exercises that were fun and instructive to complete, and a plethora of great poems as examples. One of the book’s eighty short chapters is entitled “Finders Keepers: Found Poems.” Cohen describes getting one of those irritating spam mass emails and turning it into an opportunity to write a poem slightly outside of her usual boundaries and with a lot of creative vocabulary. I found myself trying this exercise while shopping in a Japanese grocery store. Words found on the shelves and in my mind: “origami action”, “rice counter” and my personal favorite, “elite banana”, all grist for a future poem. It’s also rare to have a book address the need to calm down and trust one’s own voice. Without the need for approval, a poet can produce more work - and find additional outlets for it. “Authenticity is a kind of homelessness I am learning to live inside of”, Cohen writes. When the work pours forth, the craft is honed and shaped, empowering the person and their creations. Cohen again: "I have been writing poems and thinking of each one as practice…. Every poem you write benefits from the poems that came before it." Adam Kirsh, in a recent issue of the journal Poetry, asserts that poets mainly write for recognition. Cohen’s book suggests many more reasons to create this kind of art. At its very least, poetry helps us smooth out the rougher edges of our character and get closer to finding out who we really are. Cohen also suggests the outlets provided by blogs, open mics, classes, critique groups, literary journals, websites and kind words for friends, all with instructions and encouragement. Part professor, part companion and part Zen practitioner, Writing the Life Poetic walks along with us and increases the directions, dimensions and paths we can take while writing meaning into our lives. It is a monumental addition to the writing community, whose ranks should swell and build from this amazing treatise on art and all its possibilities. Writing the Life Poetic will be available in Barnes & Noble bookstores nationwide on March 13th. It can be purchased now at writingthelifepoetic.typepad.com or bn.com. Shawn Sorensen is a published, award-winning poet whose work can be viewed at manequinenvy.com, Winter 2008 edition. He just completed the 1st draft of his 1st novel with the hearty assistance of fellow OWC members. More of his book reviews can be found at goodreads.com.

  12. 4 out of 5

    K

    A good book that eases readers into getting a hang of poetry and opening your eyes to inspiration in everyday life. Language was simple and easy to understand without being too simplistic. The book was visually a joy to read with beautiful but non-obstructive art and design that made each page look clean and exciting at the same time. For me, the pace of the book was rather slow and I spent a lot of time skipping parts I thought were not very important to me. Sage Cohen's writing is nonetheless A good book that eases readers into getting a hang of poetry and opening your eyes to inspiration in everyday life. Language was simple and easy to understand without being too simplistic. The book was visually a joy to read with beautiful but non-obstructive art and design that made each page look clean and exciting at the same time. For me, the pace of the book was rather slow and I spent a lot of time skipping parts I thought were not very important to me. Sage Cohen's writing is nonetheless easy to relate to, and this is a good book for anyone just starting to write or consider writing poetry, or even just wanting to see life in a new light. Cohen provides plenty of suggestions to spark your creative juices.

  13. 5 out of 5

    T.L. Cooper

    Writing the Life Poetic: An Invitation to Read & Write Poetry examines poetry’s role in life. Cohen discusses how we use poetry to define life and life to define poetry. She makes poetry accessible to everyone no matter what their background. Topics cover a wide gambit including finding inspiration to write poetry, submitting one’s work, and how to read poetry without feeling intimidated. Most chapters contain exercises to help aspiring poets find their voices and create poems. Writing the Life Writing the Life Poetic: An Invitation to Read & Write Poetry examines poetry’s role in life. Cohen discusses how we use poetry to define life and life to define poetry. She makes poetry accessible to everyone no matter what their background. Topics cover a wide gambit including finding inspiration to write poetry, submitting one’s work, and how to read poetry without feeling intimidated. Most chapters contain exercises to help aspiring poets find their voices and create poems. Writing the Life Poetic manages to educate the reader about poetry while remaining interesting and fun. Cohen’s writing is engaging and inspiring for anyone who’s interested in poetry.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Christine

    This isn't going to be a real review. Just a comment. I've been working my way through this book, on and off, for years. Before I knew about goodreads and possibly before goodreads existed. I bought it shopping with my sister. Or maybe she bought it for me when we were out together? It might have been a birthday present. I don't remember and now I can't ask her. I've been looking forwards to having this book finished and out of my pile for so long...and now that it's finally done I don't want to This isn't going to be a real review. Just a comment. I've been working my way through this book, on and off, for years. Before I knew about goodreads and possibly before goodreads existed. I bought it shopping with my sister. Or maybe she bought it for me when we were out together? It might have been a birthday present. I don't remember and now I can't ask her. I've been looking forwards to having this book finished and out of my pile for so long...and now that it's finally done I don't want to take it off the list. Grief is a strange thing.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    Writing the Life Poetic is a very comprehensive guide to life as a poet. In eighty short chapters, Sage Cohen breaks down everything from nurturing creativity to publishing. As a young, emerging poet, I appreciate the multiple writing prompts and advice included in each chapter. Sage Cohen covers technique with plenty of examples from established poets. This book was a good resource for both finding and creating new poetry. The cover is beautiful; the layout is accessible and exciting. I highly Writing the Life Poetic is a very comprehensive guide to life as a poet. In eighty short chapters, Sage Cohen breaks down everything from nurturing creativity to publishing. As a young, emerging poet, I appreciate the multiple writing prompts and advice included in each chapter. Sage Cohen covers technique with plenty of examples from established poets. This book was a good resource for both finding and creating new poetry. The cover is beautiful; the layout is accessible and exciting. I highly recommend this book to writers and poets at any stage in their writing.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Cathy

    This is an excellent book, especially for those just starting out on the journey of writing poetry. It also holds many fine ideas and writing prompts for the more seasoned poet, along with compelling examples from many published poets.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Alexandra Mergen

    A helpful look at writing expressive poetry. This book would be useful for people facilitating poetry workshops in community settings and those seeking ideas for their own writing, especially beginners.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Crystal

    Just starting this book. (along with the 50 others I have...) I'm looking forward to continue soaking in this book a little bit day by day. It's a "working book" which means you don't just read it.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Sidra

    I am only about 1/2 way through, but I love this book. I borrowed form a friend first and then ended up buying my own copy. The writing is great; the exercises are wonderful and the book is even beautifully laid out with wonderful drawings and poetry.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Katie

    I love the format and design of this book. It has tons of short chapters with exercises to get you to practice writing poetry a little at a time. The book covers pretty much everything from rhythm to National Poetry Month to blogging.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sydney

    I figure writing poetry will help me overcome my fear of it. I enjoyed most of the exercises in this book. The short chapters make it a good read-before-working book. Highly recommended to writers of all genres.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Wendy

    The design of this book is lovely. (Thank you, underpaid Chinese printers!) I like the author's tone -- so many writing craft books designed for course use are condescending or smug. It's a nice addition to an apprentice poet's writing-craft bookshelf.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Catharine Bramkamp

    Love this book, I return to this time and time again - particularly during April - Poetry Writing month. I highly recommend it, and you can follow Ssage Cohen's wonderful, thoughtful blog, which brings you even closer to her work and ideas.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Sabrina Bullock

    Enjoyed this book greatly. Includes many writing prompts to get you writing poetry. Also, shares information about ways to share your poetry, including submitting to magazines. Good resource for poetry lovers.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Nina

    An excellent book for beginning writers. Many good, varied suggestions for jump-starting writing.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    Short chapters with fun exercises at the end. Interesting to read and easy to understand.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Susan

  28. 4 out of 5

    Samantha McGuire (Mirror Bridge Books)

  29. 4 out of 5

    Staci Boden

  30. 4 out of 5

    Robert

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