Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Crafty Poet: A Portable Workshop -- A New Approach

What I like about Diane Lockward's new craft book is its collaborative approach. This "portable workshop" offers practical advice, writing prompts, and poems from established poets such as Jane Hirshfield, Wesley McNair, Linda Pastan, Martha Silano, and Cecilia Woloch ~ 101 poets in all.

In my college creative writing class I've already put this guide into practice borrowing Craft Tip #21 Ten Tips for Breaking the Line in Free Verse. The book is designed to use on your own or as part of a class. Open to any page and there's something there that's genuinely worth investigating.

 Each chapter begins with a quote for inspiration, followed by a craft tip, a prompt, sample poems, and a bonus poem.

"It's a funny thing; the more I practice the luckier I get."

~ Arnold Palmer

I like bringing an iconic golf pro into the game of poetry. And of course, the same advice rings true in both disciplines. 

This is a gentle book; it understands that you might be making use of the prompts on the train to work or late at night once you put the children to bed. Or perhaps after your math homework is complete and before you need to practice the sax.

"Art is the only way to runaway without leaving home."

~Twyla Tharp

I know I will be making good use of this  "how to" anthology ~ for my students as well as for myself. My only quibble with this good book is that there is no index of first lines of poems or any index at all. I know that the reason for this might well be financial, but in future editions I hope it might be added. I'd also love to see a chapter on ekphrastic writing, borrowing inspiration from visual art or music.

Again, these are small suggestions. I believe this is an important new resource for poets ~ those who are just beginning as well as the more seasoned poet. To take a look inside you can click here.

As Mary Oliver states in the Poet's Handbook, if you need to choose between a great teacher and a great library, the library should win every time. This book deserves a place on the shelf, or since its portable, in the suitcase.

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