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

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  1,598 Ratings  ·  102 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," while ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published September 17th 1997 by W. W. Norton Company (first published January 1st 1997)
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Jun 30, 2013 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
Shawn Sorensen
Aug 05, 2010 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
Jun 19, 2011 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
Apr 04, 2012 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 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 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.
Aug 01, 2009 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 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I read this for a university creative writing course, but I loved it; clear, actionable advice, great writing exercises, and immense readability. Highly recommended for people interested in writing poetry, or in advancing their use of language in writing.
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
May 29, 2011 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
Mar 07, 2013 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
Dec 10, 2010 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
Dec 07, 2013 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
Apr 04, 2008 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.
Jun 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing
One of the few books about writing poetry that actually inspired me to pick up my notebook and write.
Jul 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a useful and informative book. I like Addonizio's work quite a lot and enjoyed her other book on poetry writing (the title escapes me) and I wanted to get poetry and writing back on the brain. So I read through this over the course of a few months, trying some of the various exercises. I really found it helpful and to be a good refresher for me. I plan to work through more of the exercises to get my writing muscle back into better shape.
Kai Crawford
Aug 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favourites, to-reread
Excellent book - informative and inspiring.

Also discovered some poems I really loved:
Marie Howe - Death, the last visit
T. R. Hummer - Where you go when she sleeps
Sharon Olds - Feared drowned
Paul Monette - Here
William Dickey - 5. The lumber company executive
Edward Hirsch - For the Sleepwalkers
Ruth Schwartz - Bath
Maureen Micus Crisick - Suppose
Rob Baker
Jan 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Lots of great ideas about the hows, whys, and wherefores of writing (and reading) poetry, as well as plenty of excellent and novel mentor texts/sample poems (including some pretty edgy ones). Good for anyone, beginner or expert, or even writing teachers. The chapter on "Writing in the Electronic Age" is dated and can be safely skipped.
I had to read most of the chapters of the book for school. When it comes to forms in poetry this book was mostly helpful. If nothing else it is an encouraging read as it inspires the poet to foster the enjoyment of writing and creativity.
Ghassan Samaha
May 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Poems...are letters of engagements crafted for the sole reader. They are the experiences we share...a living word that is hidden. Or a secret that lives on. Poems are not to be dictated, let the true word and sound voice break the rule and swim in its SPIRIT.
Sep 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
A wonderful book for aspiring and veteran poets. Each section focuses on a specific aspect of poetry and provides examples and exercises. I particularly like the prompts at the back of the book to get writing flowing.
May 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Kari Ann
Mar 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a great resource with a lot of meat. I enjoyed learning some new techniques, thinking about how I write poems in different ways, and having a list of writing exercises at my disposal. This is a great reference book for poets.
Feb 26, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
Very helpful book, great coaching. Pub 1997 so while poetry references are still timely, computer advice is pretty funny.
vi macdonald
The Poet's Companion: A Guide to the Pleasures of Writing Poetry, or How I Learned To Stop Trying & Turn A Profit Off People With An Interest In Poetry But No Creativity Or Aptitude For It by Kim Addonizio
Heather June Gibbons
Dec 05, 2008 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
Nov 17, 2013 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
Jul 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014, contemporary, poetry

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
Oct 03, 2008 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
Apr 28, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
I didn't like it nearly as well upon rereading. I almost downgraded it to 2 stars, but I did actually get some indirect benefit from the suggestion about keeping a poetry journal. The journal I have kept for more than 3 years is not exclusively about poetry, but it has been good for me.

Now I'm planning to take this one to Half Price books. For poetry ideas, I very much prefer The Practice of Poetry, edited by Robin Behn and Chase Twitchell.

Exercises for w
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 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
Author of several poetry collections including Tell Me, a National Book Award Finalist. My Black Angel is a book of blues poems with woodcuts by Charles D. Jones, from SFA Press. The Palace of Illusions is a story collection from Counterpoint/Soft Skull. A New & Selected, Wild Nights, is out in the UK from Bloodaxe Books.

2016 publications: Mortal Trash, new poems, from W.W. Norton, awarded the
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.” 46 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.” 32 likes
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