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The Poet's Companion: A Guide to the Pleasures of Writing Poetry

4.07  ·  Rating Details ·  1,370 Ratings  ·  87 Reviews
?The Poet's Companion ?presents brief essays on the elements of poetry, technique, and suggested subjects for writing, each followed by distinctive writing exercises. The ups and downs of writing life—including self-doubt and writer's block—are here, along with tips about getting published and writing in the electronic age. On your own, this book can be your "teacher," whi ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published September 17th 1997 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published January 1st 1997)
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The Crafty Poet by Diane LockwardThe Triggering Town by Richard HugoLetters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria RilkeThe Poet's Companion by Kim AddonizioIn the Palm of Your Hand by Steve Kowit
Best Books on Writing Poetry
4th out of 49 books — 84 voters
The Complete Poems by Emily DickinsonLeaves of Grass by Walt WhitmanShakespeare's Sonnets by William ShakespeareThe Waste Land and Other Poems by T.S. EliotAriel by Sylvia Plath
Best Poetry Books
294th out of 1,719 books — 1,887 voters

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Community Reviews

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Jun 30, 2013 Nikol rated it it was ok
Shelves: american, poetry
This book should be subtitled: How to Ruin the Pleasures of Writing Poetry (aka Making Mistakes is WRONG). Honestly - if you need to be told WHAT to write about and HOW to do it, you should not be writing poetry. I understand that there are people who believe creative writing can be taught as anything else, but... - I have to disagree with all those who are buying books "how to write" thinking "I will become Tolstoy". Let me give you an example explaining why I'm against teaching poetry: I canno ...more
May 07, 2016 Ken added it
Recommended to Ken by: Ruth Bavetta
Kim Addonzio, a poet I admire, and Dorianne Laux, team up for this succinct, 10-to-15 page chaptered "how-to" book on writing poems that is perfect if you want something authoritative yet at the same time fairly brief. The first part covers typical subjects poets breach and how you might go about mining your own ideas for same. They include the family, writing itself, death and grief, the erotic, places, and poems of witness. Section Two treads into territory you'd expect from a book of this sor ...more
Shawn Sorensen
Feb 27, 2011 Shawn Sorensen rated it it was amazing
A compassionate, readable, open and encouraging volume. I hope I have the courage and the stamina to write up to the level provided by this book. My review went from four to five stars in the months it took to read Poet's Companion, try at least one exercise from the choices at the end of each chapter, and do all 14 of the 20-minute writing exercises in the back of the book. I won't say that any of my poems are prize winners, just that I'm excited about them and have started to read parts of the ...more
Dec 30, 2014 Jsavett1 rated it it was amazing
I've read several books on poetic craft; this, and Ted Kooser's Poetry Home Repair Manual are the best. The chapters here follow the pretty standard content, defining parts of the process and giving great examples from well known and fresh new poems. I found the most interesting and inspirational chapter to be "Stop Making Sense." I happen to pick this book up at a point in my artistic life in which I felt like I was beginning to repeat myself or that, at times, my poetry was becoming too cerebr ...more
Allen Berry
Aug 10, 2010 Allen Berry rated it it was amazing
One of... No. THE best book I've ever read about poetry craft and writing. The examples and ideas were useful and challenging and even fun. I produced a new poem from every exercise.

This is a book by poets for poets, the authors talk to you on your level rather than broadcasting from some ivory tower. Wonderful work! It was a pleasure to read both as a text and as a manual. I can't recommend it highly enough nor can I thank the authors enough short of offering them my first raise, not
Jun 02, 2010 John rated it it was amazing
I've used this book, geared toward beginning poetry writing students, many times since its appearance, and it always suits my intentions for it, to provide specific, basic info on various aspects of poetry writing. The exercises and examples are terrific, and the book's tone is welcoming, friendly and supportive. It appeals to no specific aesthetic agenda, and its vision is far-ranging. For example, it's the only text of its kind that I'm aware of that has a chapter on writing the erotic.
I always thought of poetry as some far off inexplicable and ethereal kind of thing. This book is a concise and easy to follow guide to the art if poetry and a gateway to all of the literature that lies beyond. It doesn't read like a textbook, though it does instruct you of the different mechanics present in creative literature. All the while, the author is encouraging and let's you know that there are no hard and fast rules but still equips your creativity by going over every writing technique a ...more
Jun 26, 2011 Donna rated it really liked it
I have owned this book for ages, used it for teaching, read parts of it here and there, but I finally read through it from cover to cover. I think it is a great teaching aid and excellent for beginning poets. I have used several of its exercises in classes with beginning or emerging poets. However, I think at this point in my life I was looking for some thoughts that went a bit beyond "show don't tell," "eliminate unneeded words," and "grammar is important." It is a well-written and thorough boo ...more
Dec 17, 2013 kylajaclyn rated it liked it
I had to read this for my Poetry Workshop class, and I enjoyed it so much. I decided to finish reading it and keep it for future use. I have previously disliked the writing guides for two Creative Writing classes and my Craft of Poetry class. But this book is a well-rounded guide that truly spurs writers to get better. Talent cannot be manufactured. But it should always be nurtured, and you should always want to grow, no matter what your art. This book is divided into four sections: "Subjects fo ...more
Dec 10, 2010 Doug rated it liked it
This is your standard poetry book which anyone novice or experienced could use to learn or reference from. Kim Addonizio is a contemporary poet and offers the reader a nice spread of fellow contemporaries in the persuasion of exclusive genres like feminism, love, and African-American history as well as the more general stock. There's nothing counter-intuitive to this guide, nor is there anything especially enlightening. It's a very standard fare.

The only thing this book really lacks is formalist
Mar 25, 2013 Kate rated it it was amazing
What a great book. Approachable instruction in what poetry is, enabling appreciative because informed reading of poems and, if you choose, writing. I bought it to better understand something of the nuances inherent on poetry, so that i can better get it and want to read more. I was not disappointed. Found poets more of whose work I want to and will read, and find myself riffling through many poetry collections that I own (because I'm a literary person and am supposed to own such books) and reall ...more
Apr 04, 2008 Tana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Her language in her poetry is accessible and straight forward, bringing the lens close up to the everyday world, much of it impoverished. She remains an intimate poet, taking on domestic scenes, rather than grand themes. Her philosophy about the language of everyday, helps me to see how she works.
May 05, 2010 Mozart rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: poets
I have read about 10-20 poetry guides. This is the best one yet! You can easily skip around to chapters you like, the poems in this book are contemporary, the authors use a real chill voice that gives you permission to make mistakes. The writing prompts, which there are TONS are top notch.
Jul 04, 2014 Taka rated it really liked it
Shelves: contemporary, poetry, 2014

Though a little outdates (there's a section called "Writing in the Electronic Age" where the authors talk about "modems" and marvel at being able to download Strunk & White's Elements of Style on the Internet), this book is remarkably accessible and introduces a great many poems by contemporary poets, which gave me the taste of their work and was helpful for me in making a reading list of poets I'm interested in. The exercises found at the end of each chapter are fun to do and the mater
Jul 12, 2008 Nina rated it it was amazing
One of the few books about writing poetry that actually inspired me to pick up my notebook and write.
Feb 27, 2016 Angela added it
A book for lovers of poetry, The Poet’s Companion caters for aspiring writers who wish to improve their craft and understand the genre at an advanced level. Kim Addonizio and Dorianne Laux have taken great care in sectioning individual chapters that let the reader dissect verse and understand a poem’s mechanics. The novice or experienced poet is gently encouraged to experiment with rhythm and word choice and to proactively investigate what constitutes a successful piece.

The authors use clear lan
Heather June Gibbons
Feb 04, 2009 Heather June Gibbons rated it liked it
Shelves: teaching
Though the author-poets skew towards the personal/narrative/confessional in a way that rubs me the wrong way a bit, I've found several of these chapters and exercises to be useful for beginners. In particular, the chapters on craft. The "Subjects for Writing" section is primarily focused on working with subjects like personal experience, memory, grief and death, family, the erotic (?!), dark stuff (in "The Shadow") and a Carolyn Forché -styled poetry of witness. I'm sorry, but my undergrads usua ...more
Stacy Mar
Jan 19, 2015 Stacy Mar rated it really liked it
I found this book to be enjoyable and immensely motivating.

The themed chapters (with writing prompts) allows the reader to cultivate their own lives and experiences for poem-writing material.

The 20 minute writing exercises at the end is an added plus.

This book is excellent for both beginning, and seasoned, poets and would be a great guidebook for writing workshops and classes.
Neil Grayson
Oct 30, 2014 Neil Grayson rated it really liked it
Good, solid advice for starting poets and good words for career writers. Nothing groundshaking appears in this book, but it competently and lyrically lays out the most common things poets do to hamstring themselves while showing us how to not do that. Recommended for any poet.
Kenton Yee
Apr 02, 2016 Kenton Yee rated it it was amazing
Instructive without being pedantic, my three favorite chapters being The Shadow, about buried uglies; The Music of the Line, about meter and line breaks; and A Grammatical Excursion, about using appositives to create richer poems.
May 19, 2012 Lisa rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
Based on the title, I expected this book to be for someone who considers herself a poet - that is, already writes poetry - and that it would cover primarily issues of craft. Instead it seems more geared towards prompts one can try to begin writing poetry. The exercises might be helpful if one is blocked and just wants to get some ideas flowing, but they're pretty basic and obvious. The rest of the material is mostly fluff. If you *read* any poetry at all then you know that, yes, poets sometimes ...more
Jun 10, 2015 Amanda rated it it was amazing
Probably the greatest help on writing poetry that I have ever come across. It was the assigned text book for a poetry and prose class. I usually return textbooks but I loved this one so much I kept it!
Oct 03, 2008 Tina rated it liked it
It's a friendly, non-intimidating book that provides a nice overview for beginning writers. Actually, it can be a refreshing read for writers of all levels--the writing prompts are really fantastic. I've used them for myself and in the classroom.

It's a little light in nuts and bolts--like terms--in the Poet's Craft section. While I think not overloading the reader with definitions is part of the book's appeal, it's lack of these things is one reason why I didn't use the book as a class text. How
Jan 01, 2016 Neil rated it liked it
I read this book while taking an online creative writing course. It was an interesting book. I did enjoy reading it. Unfortunately, it did not help me in understanding 'modern'/'free form' poetry as much as I would have liked. It did offer different perspectives about different poetry 'genres' [as opposed to 'styles' or 'forms'].

I did gain a deeper appreciation of some 'modern'/'free form' poetry that I read in the book. Some of the shorter ones were beautifully written [like one describing a fr
Stephanie Schultz
Feb 28, 2015 Stephanie Schultz rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
The first section of this book, on subject matter, was the most inspiring to me. Every poem the authors shared as examples were beautiful choices. The second section, on craft, was less interesting to me. Near the end of the book, their is a chapter on "The Electronic Age," which is extremely outdated, considering the book was written 17 years ago. I would love for this book to be reissued with updates for the modern date. I mean, the book references VCRs and CD-ROMs as "new" technology. At the ...more
Oct 27, 2015 Rana rated it it was amazing
I've enjoyed every part of it in my poetry class. I guess i am gonna read again.
Feb 07, 2014 Laurie rated it it was amazing
Never gets old -- the best little affordable book I've ever used in my poetry workshops.
Aug 19, 2014 Apoorva rated it really liked it
My new best friend. I'll use it when I start my own PoRiMo.
Beth Browne
Mar 24, 2015 Beth Browne rated it it was amazing
A wonderful resource for poets of all stripes!
May 18, 2014 Nancy rated it it was amazing
Just read it again--
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 87 88 next »
  • The Practice of Poetry: Writing Exercises From Poets Who Teach
  • The Poetry Home Repair Manual: Practical Advice for Beginning Poets
  • Poemcrazy: Freeing Your Life with Words
  • In the Palm of Your Hand: A Poet's Portable Workshop
  • Real Sofistikashun: Essays on Poetry and Craft
  • Nine Gates: Entering the Mind of Poetry
  • The Triggering Town: Lectures and Essays on Poetry and Writing
  • Smoke
  • Writing Poems
  • A Poetry Handbook
  • The Making of a Poem: A Norton Anthology of Poetic Forms
  • Poetic Meter and Poetic Form
  • Best Words, Best Order: Essays on Poetry
  • Writing the Life Poetic: An Invitation to Read & Write Poetry
  • The Art of Description: World into Word
  • The Art of the Poetic Line
  • Now Write!: Fiction Writing Exercises from Today's Best Writers and Teachers
  • Creating Poetry
I'm the author of several poetry collections including Tell Me, A National Book Award Finalist. My latest, My Black Angel, is a book of blues poems with woodcuts by Charles D. Jones, from SFA Press. I published The Palace of Illusions,, a story collection, with Counterpoint/Soft Skull in 2014. A New & Selected, Wild Nights, is out in the UK from Bloodaxe Books.

Due summer 2016: Mortal Trash, a
More about Kim Addonizio...

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“Good writing works from a simple premise: your experience is not yours alone, but in some sense a metaphor for everyone's.” 42 likes
“We aren't suggesting that mental instability or unhappiness makes one a better poet, or a poet at all; and contrary to the romantic notion of the artist suffering for his or her work, we think these writers achieved brilliance in spite of their suffering, not because of it.” 30 likes
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