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On Poetry and Craft: Selected Prose

4.24 of 5 stars 4.24  ·  rating details  ·  82 ratings  ·  8 reviews
"One of the virtues of good poetry is the fact that it irritates the mediocre."

Theodore Roethke was one of the most famous and outspoken poets and poetry teachers this country has ever known. In this volume of selected prose, Roethke articulates his commitments to imaginative possibilities, offers tender advice to young writers, and zings darts at stuffed shirts, lightweig...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published April 1st 2001 by Copper Canyon Press (first published June 1st 1965)
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Sep 22, 2012 eevilalice rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: poets, teachers of poetry, students of poetry, readers of poetry
Shelves: craft-pedagogy
Roethke's prose is engaging, humorous, self-deprecating, and no-bullshit. I love the bits from his notebooks in particular: he's supremely quotable. His insights on poetry are useful for a poet at any stage of his/her development, and for teachers and lovers of poetry in general. A few of the pieces do tend toward rants, and he is occasionally sexist, which rankles, but his generous love of poetry is enough for me to pass those passages and concerns by and accept what he has to offer.
"The writer who maintains that he works without regard for the opinion of others is either a jackass or a pathological liar" (48).


I love this book. I will return to it repeatedly. Esp. for the teaching aphorisms.
Ms. Rocket Pie
Roethke's profound regional influence piqued my interest in him and his work. Originally from the Midwest he spent many years teaching at the University of Washington. During his tenure there he taught many who went on to become noted poets, for example: Carolyn Kizer, Tess Gallaher, and David Wagoner.

On Poetry & Craft flung me into fluid and poignant compilation of essay's, reviews, and journal excerpts. This was a departure for me from classic fiction; the direct and cadenced nature of hi...more
Jerome K
This is cool. It's a loose collection of Roethke's thoughts of poetry writing and it's truly insightful in a kind of meditative way. Roethke can be straightforward and he can be rather abstract, but he's always profound. I write poetry myself and this had been a lot of help.
Oct 01, 2013 Jeff marked it as to-read
I think i give up. Teddy's writing about writing is too indirect for me. I could follow the epilogue and intro but not much else. I couldn't even comprehend the aphorisms! *sigh* maybe someday when i'm more poetically educated.
A book for writers and poets; lots of essays and pithy statements.
Maria Catherino
The next best thing to taking a course with Roetke.
Mills College Library
808.1 R719 2001
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Theodore Huebner Roethke was an American poet, who published several volumes of poetry characterized by its rhythm and natural imagery. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1954 for his book, The Waking. Roethke wrote of his poetry: The greenhouse "is my symbol for the whole of life, a womb, a heaven-on-earth." Roethke drew inspiration from his childhood experiences of working in his fa...more
More about Theodore Roethke...
The Collected Poems The Far Field Selected Poems Straw for the Fire: From the Notebooks of Theodore Roethke Words for the Wind: The Collected Verse

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