Thursday, May 9, 2013

Mapping the Line: Poets on Teaching

If you're looking for some ideas to fire up your own poetry or that of your students, Mapping the Line: Poets on Teaching provides terrific material for poets, teachers, and students. Editor Bruce Guernsey is Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Eastern Illinois University where he taught for twenty-five years. He is also an accomplished poet with six full-length collections, most recently From Rain: Poems, 1970-2010. His work has several times been featured on Ted Kooser's American Life in Poetry column. The poem, Back Road, was featured just this past March.

Following his retirement, Guernsey became the editor of Spoon River Poetry Review. As editor he introduced a regular feature called "Poets on Teaching." That was one of my favorite parts of each issue of the journal.

During his tenure as editor, Guernsey would invite one well-established poet who was also a teacher, one per issue, to write an article about the craft of poetry and to include an assignment that teachers and poets might use. When he left the journal, Guernsey took the feature with him. He has now gathered those articles, as well as some he subsequently solicited, into Mapping the Line: Poets on Teaching. I am happy to be included in this outstanding book and happy to recommend it to you.

The book begins with a Foreword by Ted Kooser. That is followed by twenty essays, covering a wide range of topics. For example, there's "Who's Writing This?" by Cecilia Woloch, "Metaphor as Form" by David Baker, and "Three Exercises for Free Verse" by Wesley McNair. My own contribution is "The Extravagant Love Poem," a discussion of the blazon and anti-blazon with an exercise employing metaphors.

Other authors include Baron Wormser, Kevin Stein, Andrea Hollander, M.B. McLatchey, Robert Wrigley, Doug Sutton-Ramspeck, Guernsey, David Baker, Miho Nonaka, Todd Davis, Sheryl St. Germain, Charlotte Pence, Megan Grumbling, Laurie Lamon, Betsy Sholl, and Claudia Emerson.

Teachers will find this a very useful and informative collection. Poets will find it instructive and inspirational. Students will find that it contains a traveling workshop. This book will be a happy addition to your classroom or your desk at home.

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