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 a trio to suggest for your poet pals. And don’t forget to be good to yourself as well!
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 three 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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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, Line / Stanza, and 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. Of the three titles recommended here, this one places the most emphasis on craft.
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.
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.
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.
This book has a spectacular array of model poems and information from poets on how they see the craft. It will get you writing and it will help you keep on writing poems.
Sample Bonus Prompt
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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.
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!
No teacher, no aspiring poet should be without the gentle guidance of this book.
This is sophisticated play. I found exercises that have taken me beyond my ordinary patterns and limitations. Wingbeats will get your pen moving.
—The Coachella Review
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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.
I see this as an investment in writing exercises for many years over as you can use the same prompt at different times and find it will take you different places. It's my recommendation that you add it to your own library and enjoy the journey.
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.
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.
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 three.