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The 6.5 Practices of Moderately Successful Poets: A Self-Help Memoir

3.85  ·  Rating Details  ·  55 Ratings  ·  13 Reviews
A private eye turned moderately successful poet leads readers on a satiric, hopeful tour of how to make a life in the arts, while still having a life. Revealing, hilarious, and peppered with sly takes on the ins and outs of contemporary American poetry (chapters include "The Silence of the Iambs," "The Revisionarium, Ask Dr. Frankenpoem," and "The Periodic Table of Poetic ...more
Paperback, 225 pages
Published March 20th 2012 by Sarabande Books (first published January 1st 2011)
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Jul 02, 2012 Laura rated it it was amazing
My first impulse is to gush about this book, but I don't trust what will happen when *that* impulse intersects with my inner (and outer) reviewer and is then paired with the limited language available for such gushing. So I'll just say: GUSH. Helpful, strange, funny, and, most of all, reassuring, this book forced me to re-direct my thinking, and remember that before being a writer, a poet, I am a person. I find myself reading from it to long-distance writer friends over the phone, copying pages ...more
Dec 07, 2012 Tara rated it really liked it
Entertaining, humorous story of one poet's "success" that says it is aimed at poetry writers and readers—but really it’s just for the writers. Here’s a nice example of how the author combines his personal story with general lessons to be learned: “The other thing my father’s toughness taught is care for a job well done, even if the job is considered by others as trivial or unimportant. This comes in handy when writing poems.”
The Bookloft
Bookseller: Laura

While reading this quirky and wonderful book on writing, I found myself reading from it to long-distance writer friends over the phone, copying pages for my creative writing students, sending excerpts over email, and recommending it to new poets (not just "moderately successful" ones) for inspiration, guidance, and comfort.

Part memoir (the author, now a poet, used to be a private investigator), part how-to, and part reassurance, this book reminded me that before being a writer a
Therese Broderick
Jan 09, 2013 Therese Broderick rated it really liked it
I want to give this book a rating of 3.5, but no such rating exists on Goodreads. In generosity, I round-up my rating to a whole integer. I agree with much of the existing praise for this book (see other comments here on this Goodreads website). However, the book's "spin" -- spoofing Seven Habits of Highly Effective People -- grows too hectic on some pages, and lapses too limp on other pages. The book swings up and down, back and forth, as if destabilized by multiple personalities. Despite my ha ...more
Sep 25, 2012 Pamela rated it really liked it
An enjoyable, breezy read. There is lots of smart, sane thinking here about writing and the "Po-Biz," as Skinner likes to refer to it, and an exercise or two I may remember, but mostly I think I'll recall the unusual passages about Skinner's pre-academy life as a private investigator and then a security guard at his father's business. Part of the point being: you never know where poetry, or a poetic vocation, will come from. Come to think about it, I'll also remember Skinner's heartbreaking reco ...more
Oct 12, 2013 Aimee rated it really liked it
I was in the right mood for this book, needing to flip my perspective on writing a bit, and this was just the book. Nothing earth-shattering, but funny anecdotes and good reminders to keep your eye on the ball, because that's all you can do.

Favorite quotes:

"Don't write about what you know - write about what has made you ill with interest, what has infected you."

I think it was in his book that I saw this Jane Hirshfield quote:

"Cultivate necessary selfishness. The world - even the literary world -
May 19, 2014 Jerry rated it really liked it
A good-enough (and sometimes more than good-enough) deflating of the Poetry Biz.
Feb 01, 2013 Richard rated it it was ok
Shelves: poetry
A disappointing read. It's not that it's bad, it's just that there is nothing new here either in what he says or how he says it. Not as funny as I think we are supposed to think it is, for one thing. And at least one chapter seemed to have nothing at all to do with the book's point.

I gave it two stars instead of one because the one new thing he does talk about is the fact that if a poet is successful at all, it will most likely be a modest success and that it is the poems that count, not the ca
Apr 23, 2014 Farrah rated it it was amazing
Insightful. Funny. Witty. Honest. Brilliant.
Curt Anderson
Aug 07, 2012 Curt Anderson rated it liked it
Basically, a how-to book for poets written by a wry "moderately successful poet" and former private investigator. He's not as funny as he thinks he is, but there is some good stuff about the slippery and shiny path of poetry writing.
Jan 09, 2013 Scott rated it liked it
Not amazing, and the humor is occasionally hokey, but I think there's some good, specific advice here for people trying to make any kind of art.
May 13, 2012 Amy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writing
Funny, self-deprecating, insightful, oh-so-true, delightfully gossipy. Thought-provoking, reassuring, and helpful. Also, did I mention funny?
Jan 06, 2013 Kyla rated it liked it
Moderately helpful and interesting - and I mean that as a compliment.
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