I would love to see my poetry practice perk up in 2014. Diane Lockward’s latest book, THE CRAFTY POET: A PORTABLE WORKSHOP (Wind Publications, $20) ma...moreI would love to see my poetry practice perk up in 2014. Diane Lockward’s latest book, THE CRAFTY POET: A PORTABLE WORKSHOP (Wind Publications, $20) may be just the thing to help make that happen.
Disclosure: I’ve known Diane Lockward for quite some time. Earlier in her career, she taught English at the New Jersey high school I attended (in fact, she was one of my sister’s English teachers). This connection helps explain why I began following Diane avidly online, where she shares so much poetry knowledge and so many resources for poets, so generously. (I’m also a fan of Diane’s own poetry, which you can find in three books – TEMPTATION BY WATER, WHAT FEEDS US, and EVE’S RED DRESS – as well as in two chapbooks, numerous anthologies, and within still more journals and websites.)
THE CRAFTY POET marshals this experience. As Diane explains in her new book’s introduction, THE CRAFTY POET “evolved out of a monthly newsletter [she] started in 2010.” Combining craft tips, model poems with prompts based on those poems, and more, Diane’s newsletters have found an appreciative audience, and they provide the backbone of this book.
THE CRAFTY POET comprises 10 sections, ranging from “Generating Material/Using Time,” to “Figurative Language,” to “Revision.” Each section includes two to three “craft tips” in which a practicing poet offers a brief discussion on a particular craft element. A poem that Diane has chosen, followed by a prompt she has devised based on that poem, ensues. Sample poems responding to those prompts are also included. Also sprinkled throughout the book are a number of “Poet on the Poem” features, in which Diane interviews poets about a poem of theirs. Each section concludes with a “bonus prompt.”
“There’s a philosophy behind this book,” Diane writes in her introduction. “I believe that courses and workshops are great. I’ve taken lots of them. As a poet who came late to the party and wasn’t able to do an MFA, local courses and summer workshops were where I acquired my poetry education. I supplemented that work with books and more books. Because I believe in the autodidactic method of learning, I have attempted to construct a book that can be used independently, as well as in a group or in a classroom. It is my hope that this book will provide poets and poetry students with a good deal of education and inspiration.” Given my experience reading THE CRAFTY POET, that hope is more than likely to be fulfilled.
(My thanks to Diane Lockward and Wind Publications for a complimentary review copy. A version of this review appeared in the February 2014 issue of "The Practicing Writer.") (less)
I received a copy of this book, which I won through a Goodreads giveaway. It's a re-edition of a slim poetry chapbook, with the poems all focusing on...moreI received a copy of this book, which I won through a Goodreads giveaway. It's a re-edition of a slim poetry chapbook, with the poems all focusing on the later illness and passing of the poet's mother. It is, in other words, a work of grief and mourning. The poet has included a glossary to help readers understand Jewish terms/customs referenced. (less)
Really admired this book. See my review in the March 2011 issue of THE WRITER magazine. (NB: Received free review copy from the publisher via the maga...moreReally admired this book. See my review in the March 2011 issue of THE WRITER magazine. (NB: Received free review copy from the publisher via the magazine.)(less)
Among the other poems I am likely to remember for a long time: "Prisoners, "Roe vs Wade," and "Shrapnel." I'm especially intrigued by the evident inspiration Williams draws in some of these poems from other literary works.(less)
Bought a copy of this book (I love its publisher, Toby Press), and brought the collection with me on a trip to Israel. Glad that I did. Wish I read He...moreBought a copy of this book (I love its publisher, Toby Press), and brought the collection with me on a trip to Israel. Glad that I did. Wish I read Hebrew, so I could better appreciate the bilingual presentation.(less)
Grace Schulman has to be one of the most generous writers out there. I had the privilege of meeting her for a profile I wrote not too long after I beg...moreGrace Schulman has to be one of the most generous writers out there. I had the privilege of meeting her for a profile I wrote not too long after I began working at The City University of New York, where she is a Distinguished Professor at Baruch College. I left our first meeting with an armful of books, and when we met again a few months back, she asked if she might send me her latest: First Loves and Other Adventures.
I probably can't be completely unbiased, but having had the opportunity to get to know this author a bit, I find the opening and closing essays in this collection most striking. They are also, arguably, the most personal.
In the first, "Helen," Schulman describes family history, the experience of growing up Jewish in New York while the Holocaust unfolded across the ocean, and the connections she sensed from an early age with her father's sister, Helena ("my parents Anglicized it"), who died in the Warsaw ghetto uprising in 1943. The closing piece, "An Uncommon Friend," recounts the relationship Schulman and her husband had with author Richard Yates. I was in the room at the 2008 conference in New York where Schulman presented this text on a panel honoring Yates's life and work; I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to revisit it.
In the introduction to this volume, Schulman describes the essays within as being "of two kinds: first, about becoming a writer; second, about some of the books I love." The book encompasses reflections on May Swenson, Marianne Moore, Octavio Paz, and others. And anything Schulman writes is worth reading. Still, the first and last essays are the ones I'll remember the longest.(less)
Ever considered being a poet-in-residence - for a hotel? Dreamed of finding some magical patron to give you a place to live (rent-free) while you work...moreEver considered being a poet-in-residence - for a hotel? Dreamed of finding some magical patron to give you a place to live (rent-free) while you worked on your writing? In his new book, Gary Mex Glazner describes how he and others have accomplished such feats, how they've been able to "make a living as a poet."
Glazner, whose impressive resume includes directing the Alzheimer's Poetry Project and serving on the board of New Mexico Literary Arts, for which he oversees the Rural Poetry program, has essentially assembled a tripartite handbook in How to Make a Living as a Poet. The first section, "The Poetry Entrepreneur: Creative Poetry Programming," offers detailed examples of ways to earn money as a poet, such as those mentioned above.
The book's second part features interviews with prominent poets/writers, including Sherman Alexie, Mary Karr, Naomi Shihab Nye, and others. Finally, "Nuts/Bolts/Rants/Manifestos" offers helpful hints on everything from writing a press release to giving a good reading.
Together, the book's elements provide practical tips to manage the basic business of a poet/writer's life, plus creative suggestions to increase income while still doing the work one loves. That's an excellent combination. And according to the very interesting page 147, where the author invites reader response, we won't have to wait long for the sequel.
(This review was based on a copy provided by the publisher, and appeared in the August 15, 2005, issue of the WriteSuccess newsletter.)(less)