Thursday, January 24, 2013

Get Back in the Groove with Wingbeats

In my monthly Poetry Newsletter I always include a book recommendation. Wait—what do you mean you don't get my Poetry Newsletter? Time to fix that. Go here to sign up:  Or go to the sidebar to the right of this blog post and use the form there. The next issue will go out on February 1 and will include a Craft Tip from Susan Laughter Meyers, a poem by Caitlin Doyle, and a prompt based on the poem. Also included will be a book recommendation, a video, and some links.

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Anyhow, in January's issue I included a recommendation for Wingbeats: Exercises and Practice in Poetry, edited by Scott Wiggerman and David Meischen. I want to mention that book here, too. Since I've been up to my earlobes getting my forthcoming craft book, The Crafty Poet, ready to send off to my publisher, I've been finding it hard to find the time or the creative brain power to crank out some new poems of my own. Now, however, I'm zeroing in on the final stages of my work on the book and have again been making morning time for my own writing. 

But guess what? My brain was sort of dead, stale, out of practice, tilted to the wrong side. So I picked up Wingbeats, a book I'd already read months ago. As is my usual practice, I'd marked the Table of Contents to indicate which prompts most interested me, the ones I thought I'd want to try. The first few just got me back in practice, exercising some lazy muscles. But the one I started last Thursday, that one lit a fire. So I'm back in the groove. And I still have 15 more circled prompts to try. Then I'll push myself to try the ones that didn't interest me as much. Who knows what surprises they might yield?

This is a perfect time of the year for a gift for yourself. Let that gift be a book of prompts. After the craziness of the end of the year—holidays, grades, and most likely neglect of your own poetry—it's time to get the engines revving again. I'm keen on prompts. I like the challenge, the sweet surprise of them. I like being pushed in new directions. If you feel the same way—or even if you don't—treat yourself to a copy of Wingbeats. I think you'll want to buy rather than borrow this book so you can mark it up and return to it repeatedly.

The book contains approximately sixty prompts by several dozen poets. The prompts are divided into seven sections with such headings as "Springboards to Imagination," "Exploring the Senses," and "Complicating the Poem." Each prompt includes specific instructions for preparation and procedure. Copious examples of poems by published poets and students are included.

The contributors include Ellen Bass, Barbara Hamby, Naomi Shihab Nye, Patricia Smith, and Lewis Turco. Many of the contributors are teachers as well as poets.

Priced under $20, this book is an irresistible bargain.


  1. Diane, thanks for the nice mention of Wingbeats! My writing engines were getting a bit rusty, but attending Peter Murphy's Winter Poetry and Prose Getaway got me going again---love those prompts! Now, prompted by your mention of it, I will turn to Wingbeats (in which I am honored to have a piece on haibun) for more prompts. I'm happy that you like the book---and really looking forward to seeing your The Crafty Poet!

  2. I've been a little rusty so far this year, too. After reading your recommendation, I'm going to get my hands on Wingbeats. Thanks!

  3. It will do the trick for you. Enjoy!


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