Thursday, December 8, 2016

Holiday Gift Books for Poets


Since I posted these recommendations two years ago, both The Crafty Poet and Wingbeats have been joined by companion volumes, so this seems like a good time to update my recommendations.

Poets love nothing more than books. A book is always the right gift for a poet, and if it’s a poetry book, then it’s the perfect gift. We poets devour books of poems, but we also love craft books and prompt books. Why? Because we’re always honing our skills and always looking for new ideas for poems. So I have two pairs of books and a singleton to suggest for you and your poet pals.

Now some of you might wonder why I’d be recommending craft books other than my own. Here’s why: Most poets need and want multiple books on craft. We can’t get enough of them. My own shelves are loaded with craft books. Each one has something to offer that the others don’t. That’s certainly true of the ones I’m about to recommend. Together, they should keep you and your friends growing and writing for a long time. I have them arranged here in what seems to me a logical order, from craftiest to promptiest.

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1. The Crafty Poet II: A Portable Workshop. Edited by Diane Lockward, Terrapin Books, 2016.

This sequel to the original The Crafty Poet picks up where the first book left off, but it also can stand by itself. It is a poetry tutorial ideal for use in the classroom, in workshops, or at home. It includes craft tips, model poems, prompts, and Q&As. Contributors include more than 100 of our finest poets, among them 16 current and former state poets laureate. You will find work by such poets as Tony Hoagland, Laura Kasischke, Alberto Rios, and Ellen Bass.

Like the original, The Crafty Poet II is organized into ten sections, including such topics as "Revising Your Process," "Entryways into Poems," "Expanding the Material," and "Revision."

All ten sections include three craft tips, each provided by an experienced, accomplished poet. Each of the thirty craft tips is followed by a Model poem and a Prompt based on the poem. Each model poem is used as a mentor. Each prompt is followed by two Sample poems which suggest the possibilities for the prompts and should provide for good discussion about what works and what doesn't. Each section includes a Poet on the Poem Q&A about the craft elements in one of the featured poet's poems. Each section then concludes with a Bonus Prompt, each of which provides a stimulus on those days when you just can't get your engine started.

Comments:
The biggest reason to read her books? They're fun. Poetry is fun. And the poems in The Crafty Poet II will leave you Wowed. They will jazz you up, compel you to write your own poems. There are many poems and prompts to get you started writing, using the same tools our finest poets use.—BB

The Crafty Poet II, like its predecessor, is full of a wide range of inspiring prompts, tips, and examples. In a large market of books on the craft of poetry, both Crafty Poet books stand out in their clarity, dynamic suggestions, and fun. And I really mean fun. One can see the joy both the contributors and the editor, Diane Lockward, have in poetry and that makes this book a vital source to have on one’s shelf, whether you are a new poet or a seasoned one.—MTY


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 2. The Crafty Poet: A Portable Workshop, Revised Edition by Diane Lockward, Terrapin Books, 2016.

This book includes craft tips, model poems, and prompts based on the craft elements in the model poems. In addition, each of the ten sections includes a Q&A with one poet about the craft elements in a single poem. Each section ends with a short bonus prompt that can be used over and over again. The material is organized by craft concepts such as Diction, Imagery / Figurative Language, and Line / Stanza / Syntax. Fifty-six poets, including 13 former and current state poets laureate, contributed the craft tips, model poems, and Q&As. An additional 45 accomplished poets contributed sample poems written to the prompts, two for each prompt. The book is craft-oriented and is ideal for classroom, workshop, or individual use.

This Revised Edition includes a full Table of Contents and an Index.

Named a Best Book for Writers by Poets & Writers Magazine
In this resource for poets, Lockward offers practical advice and insights about establishing sound, voice, and syntax in poetry while also providing writing prompts and other poems as inspiration.

Comments:
I received your The Crafty Poet in the mail today and found that I was only a few pages in when I was compelled to go get a pen. Not sure why, since I just held it in my hand while I read, but I'm pretty sure it had something to do with sitting down to a feast without a fork.—JE

Writers and teachers of writing: If you’re looking for a book that illuminates the nuances of poetic craft, then you’ll find The Crafty Poet to be a terrific teaching tool. It’s also a powerful text for individuals seeking to break through creative blocks. You’ll encounter model poems with accompanying prompts, interviews with poets, discussions of process and inspiration, and more.—CD 

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1. Wingbeats II: Exercises & Practice in Poetry, edited by Scott Wiggerman and David Meischen, Dos Gatos Press, 2014.

This eagerly awaited follow-up to the original Wingbeats is an exciting collection from teaching poets. It includes 58 poets and 59 exercises. Whether you want a quick exercise to jump-start the words or multi-layered approaches that will take you deeper into poetry, Wingbeats II is for you.

The exercises include clear step-by-step instruction and numerous example poems, including work by Lucille Clifton, Li-Young Lee, Cleopatra Mathis, Ezra Pound, Kenneth Rexroth, Patricia Smith, William Carlos Williams, and others. You will find exercises for collaborative writing, for bending narrative into new poetic shapes, for experimenting with persona, for writing nonlinear poems.

For those interested in traditional elements, Wingbeats II includes exercises on the sonnet, as well as approaches to meter, line breaks, syllabics, and more. Like its predecessor, Wingbeats II will be a standard in creative writing classes, a standard go-to in every poet's library.

Comments:
Whether pursuing the poetic muse on one's own or with a writing crew, Wingbeats II will be an accessible, surprisingly fun bag of tricks, toolbox, serious simulator for those who want to play. I'd suggest purchasing Wingbeats II, today.—MW

This book belongs on every writer's shelf! A wide variety of voices and approaches, with sample poems in every essay, this teaching collection has something for everyone.—anon


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2. Wingbeats: Exercises & Practice in Poetry, edited by Scott Wiggerman and David Meischen, Dos Gatos Press, 2011.

This is a collection of sixty-one prompts contributed by fifty-eight poets, including Naomi Shihab Nye, Ellen Bass, and Oliver de la Paz. The book is organized into seven sections under such concepts as Springboards to Imagination, Exploring the Senses, and Structure and Form. The exercises range from quick and simple to involved and multi-layered. Prompts include such intriguing titles as "Metaphor: Popcorn, Popcorn, Leaping Loud," "Aping the Masters: Poems in Imitation," and "My Mother's Clothes." The book's focus is on prompts, but most of them are preceded by some discussion regarding purpose and benefits; you will find some craft material included in those discussions. The contributing poets were asked to follow a suggested format, so you will find clear step-by-step instructions and sample poems that were written to the exercises. Ideal for the classroom, workshop, or individual writing space.

Comments:
Wingbeats is a fabulous toolbox of innovative and practical ideas that literally every teacher of poetry workshops and at every level, from elementary poets-in-the-schools through the graduate MFA, will find indispensable. Covering a vast range from image to sound to form, the exercises are all concrete and clearly presented—a marvelous way to mine the imaginations and experiences of today’s most dynamic poets. Invaluable!—CS

No teacher, no aspiring poet should be without the gentle guidance of this book.—GR


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3. The Daily Poet: Day-by-Day Prompts for Your Writing Practice, by Kelli Russell Agodon and Martha Silano, Two Sylvias Press, 2013.

The 365 prompts in this collection were all written by the two authors, both of them well-published poets. The book evolved out of several years of their regular writing dates during which they challenged each other with prompts. The book is arranged like a calendar with one prompt for every day of the year, though the user is free to skip around. Quite a few of the prompts begin with a reference to some historical event that occurred on that day. While the book is strictly brief prompts, many of them ask you to employ craft elements. This book is suitable for a beginning poet or one with a lot of experience but in search of some new ideas. It can be used in a classroom to supplement assignments, in workshop groups, or at home by the poet working alone.

Recommended by The Huffington Post Books:
. . . you could use The Daily Poet year after year and track how your writing evolves. Or you can just crack open the book, pick one out at have at it. They're all equally thought provoking.

Comments:
The variety of prompts also encouraged creative exploration of topics I might not have considered fertile ground for poetry (candy cigarettes, anyone?). For me, this is the book’s greatest gift to its user: its power to dig deep inside the rabbit holes of your poet’s brain and/or subconscious and pull out work that might never have been pulled out without it.—MS

Whether you write to prompts on your own or you use them when you meet with writing groups or with a friend at a coffee shop, there is something here for everyone.—DV


If you need to select just one of these books, I hope I've given you enough of a description that you can choose. But what I really hope is that you will choose all five.

By the way, Scott Wiggerman, co-editor of both Wingbeats books, has work in both of my Crafty Poet books; I have a lesson and prompt in Wingbeats II; Martha Silano, co-editor of The Daily Poet, has work in the original Crafty Poet; and both Kelli Russell Agodon and Martha Silano, co-editors of The Daily Poet, have work in The Crafty Poet II. 


Friday, December 2, 2016

Book Launch for The Crafty Poet II: An Invitation


It's a Book Launch for The Crafty Poet II: A Portable Workshop. We'd love to have you with us.


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Terrapin Books News

Turtle slowly making its way to AWP
The first and only time I attended AWP was in 2007 when the conference was held in NYC. Though I had a good time, I didn’t think I’d ever go back. However, this year I was invited to be on a panel: "The Independent Press Anthology: Focusing, Editing, Organizing, Designing, Publishing, and Marketing," moderated by Lucille Lang Day, with Wendy Barker, Bryce Milligan, Claire Ortaldo, and me. Since I had recently begun Terrapin Books and had done our first anthology, The Doll Collection, I thought I might have a thing or two to say and also thought this seemed like a good opportunity to introduce the press to a larger group, so I said yes. I’ll be heading to the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Washington, DC, in February. The panel will be on Thursday from 4:30 - 5:45 PM.

Since I was already going to be there, I decided to book a table in the Book Fair. I’ll be sharing the space with Storyscape Journal. Having the table entitles Terrapin to hold book signings for its poets, so on Friday, I’ll be having signings for Christine Stewart-Nunez with Bluewords Greening, Jessica de Koninck with Cutting Room, and Patricia Clark whose book, The Canopy, will debut at the conference.

Then I also thought that as long as I was going to be there, I should also try to schedule a Terrapin reading. That was a significant challenge as I’m not at all familiar with the area. I contacted poet Kim Roberts, one of the poets in our anthology. She lives in DC and gave me a list of venues to try. They were all prohibitively expensive. One place on the list was the Methodist Church which seemed promising, but the person in charge of booking space was away. Weeks later Sandra Beasley and some other poets sent out a list of venues. I saw the Methodist Church listed so decided to try again. This time I got hold of the person in charge and was happy to learn that they had space and it wouldn’t put me in debtors’ prison.

So there will be a Terrapin Books reading on Thursday, 7:00 - 9:00 PM. The reading will include Christine Stewart-Nunez, Jessica de Koninck, and Patricia Clark, all reading from their Terrapin books. They will be followed by a group reading of close to twenty poets from The Doll Collection, each poet reading one poem. The poets scheduled to read include Meg Hurtado Bloom, Kim Bridgford, Jessica de Koninck, Roberta Feins, Kelly Fordon, Alice Friman, Richard Garcia, Meredith Davies Hadaway, Donna Hilbert, Christina Lovin, Jennifer Perrine, Susan Rich, Kim Roberts, Hayden Saunier, Enid Shomer, Elaine Terranova, J. C. Todd, and Kristin Zimet. Should be a fun, poetry-packed evening.

That’s going to be a very busy Thursday as I’ll be setting up the table and lugging in books in the morning, manning the table all day, doing the panel late afternoon, then hosting the reading in the evening—all in that one day.

Please come to the reading on Thursday evening! And stop by the Terrapin table. We'll be at table #525T. Stop by and say hello, especially on Friday around noon. All three poets will be doing their book signings on Friday.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Poetry Update


Since starting up Terrapin Books, my new small press for poetry books, I've been giving scant attention to my own poetry. The bulk of my time has been spent learning how to make the books happen, i.e., how to obtain the manuscripts, how to format a book, how to make a book cover—and a score of other tasks. But I've got the basics covered now, our first four books have been published and two more are underway, the original The Crafty Poet has been published in a revised edition by Terrapin, and the new The Crafty Poet II is out in the world. So I find myself with some free time! Time for poetry.

First an update on my own still new poetry collection, The Uneaten Carrots of Atonement.

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I've had several nice reviews to boast about.

Satire on the Menu
by Zara Raab  

Better View of the Moon
by Karen Craig 

Washington Independent Review of Books
by Grace Cavalieri, includes the poem "Your Blue Shirt" 

Boston Area Small Press and Poetry Scene
by David P. Miller


I was also interviewed about the book, about how it fits in with my earlier books, what my intentions were, and some craft issues.

The Schuylkill Valley Journal
by Adele Kenny


In September I drove up to Manchester, New Hampshire, to participate in The New Hampshire Poetry Festival organized by Jennifer Militello. I'd sent in a proposal to give a presentation about Terrapin Books, a kind of behind-the-scenes look at what's involved in beginning a new small press. The presentation was called "Terrapin Books: From Seed to First Fruit." The culmination was a group reading with poets from The Doll Collection, Terrapin's first publication, an anthology, the first-ever to focus on dolls. I had a great time!

In October I participated in the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival in Newark, NJ. As a Dodge poet, I worked there on Thursday and Friday, hosting a few events. That's a great opportunity to hear some poets and do a bit of service for the poetry community. Friday was the most populated day as it was Student Day. Look at all these teenagers!

That's inside the Performing Arts Center. If the weather had been more cooperative, many of these kids would have been outside enjoying the food court, walking around, and sharing poetry. But trust me, they had a great time!

The highlight of the festival for me was reading on Saturday. I read in the beautiful Trinity & St Philips Cathedral, one of several festival locations. My co-readers were Robin Becker, Marty McConnell, Christian Campbell, and Aaron Smith. I last read at the 2006 festival, a whole decade ago. That time the venue was the Waterloo Village in Stanhope, NJ, a rural setting.

I was also happy to see that I sold a boatload of books in the B&N bookstore at the festival. Sold a bunch of my poetry collections and completely sold out of The Crafty Poet and The Crafty Poet II.

Here's a onesie I couldn't resist buying for my new granddaughter. Poet-in-training?

Now, of course, it's also time to pick up the pen and get back to writing new poems. I'm happy to say at least that these past few weeks have seen the completion of two poems that I started long ago—one 3 years ago and one maybe a year ago. That feels very good. I need more.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

What's Been Going On Around Here


It's been pretty busy around here. Since I haven't had time to post as often as I used to, this post will begin a round-up of recent news. More will follow in subsequent posts.

First some Terrapin Books news. My new press has proven to be a very challenging enterprise and a very rewarding one. I'm proud to say that thus far we have one anthology in print, The Doll Collection, and four single author poetry books: Confessions of a Captured Angel by Neil Carpathios, The Persistence of Longing by Lynne Knight, Cutting Room by Jessica de Koninck, and Bluewords Greening by Christine Stewart-Nunez. Two more collections are in progress: The End of Grief by Patricia Clark and Route 66 and Its Sorrows by Carolyn Miller.

We've had two open reading periods and expect to have another one within a few more months. (Check the website for updated information.) The press saw a better than 30% increase in the number of submissions during the second reading period.

We've also already been receiving some poetry love from the poetry world. A review by Grace Cavalieri of Neil Carpathios' Confessions of a Captured Angel appeared in the Washington Independent Review of Books. Dream Circuit, a poem by Lynne Knight from The Persistence of Longing, was featured on Verse Daily. And Viriditas, a poem by Christine Stewart-Nunez from Bluewords Greening, was featured at The Missouri Review online. Christine was also a featured poet at the South Dakota Festival of Books.

Two craft books, both edited by me, are also now in print: the original The Crafty Poet: A Portable Workshop is now available in a revised edition which includes a full table of contents (i.e., includes all poem titles and poets' names) and an Index at the back of the book. The brand-new sequel, The Crafty Poet II: A Portable Workshop, has just been released. Here's what it looked like when the shipment of contributors' copies arrived:


Since arriving at my house, all books have gone out to contributors. Some books have been spotted in various places across the US. Here's one spotted at the Virginia Center for Creative Arts. Thanks to contributor Hilde Weisert for donating a copy of the book so that other poets might use it.


Check out the very nice "#1 New Release in Poetry Anthologies" that appeared at Amazon shortly after the publication of The Crafty Poet II:


That's what's been happening with Terrapin Books. More news coming soon.


Saturday, October 15, 2016

Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival 2016



I'm delighted to be reading at this year's Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival, a special one as it's the 30th anniversary of the festival. The festival is held at the Performing Arts Center in Newark, NJ. It begins on Thursday, October 20, and runs thru Sunday, October 23. On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, the festival runs from morning into the evening. On Sunday it runs until 5:15 PM.

I'll be reading on Saturday, October 22, along with Robin Becker, Christian Campbell, Marty McConnell, and Aaron Smith. This reading is 5:00 - 6:00 PM in the Trinity-St. Philips Cathedral. Please come and say hi!

Of course, the festival offers much much more. You can get a good Festival Overview at the website.

You can also see the Full Festival Program. This is a detailed list of all events for all four days.

You can also see the Festival Lineup of Poets. Each poet who will be at the festival is included in this list. Just click on each name to be taken to that poet's bio.

The festival consists of individual readings, group readings, panel discussions, and open readings. As if that weren't enough, there's also music, a food court, and a fabulous bookstore hosted by Barnes & Noble. All festival poets will have their books available for sale in the bookstore.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

The Crafty Poet II Just Published


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At last, after three years of gathering material from my monthly Poetry Newsletter and many months of putting all that material into some kind of sensible order and more months of doing countless revisions and proofreading, The Crafty Poet II: A Portable Workshop has entered the world. This is the companion volume to the original The Crafty Poet. It can be used as a companion that picks up where the first book leaves off or it can be used as a stand-alone volume.

This craft book is divided into ten sections. Each section includes three Craft Tips, three model poems, three prompts, six sample poems written to the prompts, one Q&A with a poet about the craft elements in one of the poet's poems, and a Bonus Prompt. There's lots of good craft information on such topics as using humor, creating good titles, writing poems from photos, using sound devices such as anaphora, revision strategies, and so much more. The book also provides a rich anthology of contemporary poetry and enough prompts to keep you writing new poems for a long time.

Sixty-five poets contributed the Craft Tips, model poems, and Q&A poems. Among these poets are sixteen former and current state Poets Laureate. An additional forty-seven poets contributed the sixty sample poems. This group includes two former state Poets Laureate. I am enormously proud of the lineup of poets and the material they contributed to the book. Look for work by such poets as Tony Hoagland, Robert Wrigley, Ada Limon, Ellen Bass—way too many to name here. Find the complete list of poets HERE.

I hope that The Crafty Poet II, like its predecessor, will find its way into college and university classrooms. I hope that it will also prove useful in workshop groups. And I hope that individuals using it alone at home will profit from it. This is a versatile poetry tutorial that can be used in a classroom or group setting or by an individual learning on his or her own at home.

The Crafty Poet II is available at Amazon and B&N. It can also be ordered through your favorite bookstore. Bookstores and libraries may order through Ingram.

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