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Fooling with Words: A Celebration of Poets and Their Craft
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Fooling with Words: A Celebration of Poets and Their Craft

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  202 ratings  ·  36 reviews
A Celebration of Poets and Their CraftColeman Barks
Lorna Dee Cervantes
Mark Doty
Deborah Garrison
Jane Hirshfield
Stanley Kunitz
Kurtis Lamkin
Shirley Geok-Lin Lim
Paul Muldoon
Marge Piercy
Robert Pinsky
Paperback, 256 pages
Published December 26th 2000 by William Morrow Paperbacks (first published 1999)
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Oct 18, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people who aren't sure if they like poetry. or poets.
Fooling With Words is a collection of interviews of poets conducted by television journalist Bill Moyers at the Dodge Poetry Festival.

The Dodge Poetry Festival seems enormous and a bit weird - audiences in the thousands show up to hear some of the best poets in America read, and they clap and cheer and whoop as if they were at a rock concert. Reading about it - hearing the poets talk about their craft, about readings, and sharing their favorite poems - did a lot to restore my faith in good poet
Melissa  Jeanette
Jul 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in reading more poetry but doesn't know where to begin. Not only did Moyers choose successful and talented poets, but his own prose, in introducing them, was wonderful to read as well. To say this is now a favorite book of mine is an understatement. I will treasure it. I wish I had a photographic memory so that I could mentally browse through it at will. Instead, I'll be content to often pull it off the shelf. While I didn't connect ...more
Jul 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. Bill Moyers interviews several poets at the Dodge Poetry Festival on their methods, philosophy, day to day writing of poetry. Then he allows them to provide samples of his and their favorite poems. This is a wonderful introduction to many different poets as well as to the making and inspiration of poetry.
Feb 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Enjoyable book, interviews with several poets during a festival about what poetry means to them and how it sustains them. One common theme I found not surprising, how many examples of how poetry saved their lives. I absolutely related. As a young person, I remembered, sitting in corners, alone writing words, coping with a sad, broken life, poetry helped me cope and also saved me. Reading poetry spoke to me, I felt the words. When I read good poetry I still feel it. When words enter my mind, they ...more
Feb 07, 2021 rated it really liked it
This little book of interviews with poets at the Dodge Poetry Festival is an interesting look at the myriad ways poets approach their work. Moyers provides a good variety of viewpoints here, not all of which I connected with. But when I did, I was taking notes and scribbling down poems. Definitely recommend.
Apr 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A fabulous collection of interviews with some of the best contemporary poets. Moyers conducted the interviews in connection with one of the Dodge Poetry Festival.
John Fredrickson
Aug 12, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: poetry
This book was useful as a conversational introduction to numerous modern poets, but I found that I enjoyed the poetry of only a few of these. Cervantes, Hirshfield, and Lim were welcome discoveries.
Mar 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
Still don't understand what poetry really is. But this book helped a lot. :) ...more
David Anthony Sam
Apr 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Bill Moyers once again demonstrates that a great listener elicits a great deal, in this case from a varied group of American poets.
So many insights when reading poetry. Bill Moyers does a great job at involving the readers as audience members.
Jun 13, 2010 rated it liked it
Recommended to Jess by: Found at booksale
Shelves: non-fiction, poetry, z_11
Moyers interviews poets who talk about their work and life. Includes three or four poems by each.

Moyers wrote this while attending a poetry festival. He also filmed a documentary. The book may be the least fun of the three, which is something I rarely say about books. Some interviews are better than others, just as some poems are better than others.

While I like that the goal is to make a book about the person and the poem instead of a stiff how to read / appreciate poetry, there are a few moment
Feb 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
This has been on my shelf for years, and I'm very glad that, on a recent sleepless night, I reached for it. (The middle of the night is when, oddly enough, one contributor recommended reading poetry.) Moyers interviews a variety of poets at the Dodge Poetry Festival (a terrific event held every other year in New Jersey) about what spurred their writing; the relationship between writer and reader; and how best to "take in" poetry. Intermingled in the folksy conversations are the poets' works. Of ...more
Mar 23, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2010
This is a collection of interviews of poets conducted by television journalist Bill Moyers at the Dodge Poetry Festival.

I found a lot of the poets interesting; I always like hearing how real-life experiences translate into poems.

I was overly annoyed, however, when one subject goes on and on about the way the word "Gloria" is sung in the Hallelujah Chorus and how meaningful it is blah blah blah. The word "gloria" does not appear in the Hallelujah Chorus. (I realize these are interview transcript
Oct 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I stumbled upon this book in my grandmother's collection. Wary that it might be little more than a souvenir targeting those who have attended the Dodge Poetry Festival, I was pleasantly surprised to find it a real gem in its own right. As an anthology it's a lovely collection of poems; as a piece of journalism it shines too, all the interviews being thoughtful and insightful (for poets, it turns out, can be counted on to say interesting things), and Moyers' introductory vignettes setting the sce ...more
Apr 20, 2010 rated it really liked it
A collection of poets and poetry with interviews and commentary by Moyers. He feels that by interviewing and knowing the poets we will better understand the poetry. I liked this book and would recommend it but I still don’t have a great understanding for poetry; at least the way I would like. This is a very readable book with insight into the lives of about 11 poets.
Jul 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
I loved this book because I really enjoy poetry. His interviews with poets clearly show his appreciation of the written word and of what makes each of them unique. I am about halfway through "The Language of Life." I have learned about some great new poets through this set of books, and gotten some writing inspiration. ...more
Dec 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: my-2013
A collection of interviews of poets at the Dodge poetry festival. It is an attempt to bring poetry closer to the average joe. And I think this was accomplished. I often wade into the poetry at the library but often emerge feeling a failure. Either I don't get it or I feel stupid for not getting it. But after reading this book, I am willing to try again and without being so hard on myself. ...more
Tony Roberts
Jan 24, 2016 rated it liked it
Bill Moyers is a top-notch journalist who demonstrates a love for people and a passion for democracy. Here he introduces us to several contemporary poets recognized for their craft and reveals the stories behind their words. I found a few new poets I want to explore further and several I can continue to live without.
Claire Olivarez-Day
Jul 18, 2007 rated it really liked it
The interviews were so insightful. I had lunch with Paul Muldoon and the portrait that Moyers paints of him is accurate and endearing. Great book overall for those who are well-versed in contemporary poetry.
Mar 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love anything Bill Moyers does with regard to poetry. This book includes interviews with poets like Mark Doty, Jane Hirschfield and Stanley Kunitz. "Fooling with Words" and his series for PBS "The Language of Life: A Festival of Poets" and corresponding book are must haves for poetry lovers. ...more
Oct 26, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
has a very nice chapter with Marge Piercy and Shirley Geok-Lin Lim. Bill Moyers introduces poets and does and "interview" of sorts with them. Usually questions to do with a specific poem. Not too highbrow, and Moyers allows authors to speak. ...more
Sep 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
I love Bill Moyers and I love poetry. Bill shares a bit of his personal journey as a poetry lover, but mainly the book is a collection of interviews and poems with some of the poets Bill has interviewed at the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival.
Laurie Byro
Jan 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I have had the grace to meet most of these wonderful poets and recently went to BI where Coleman Barks and Billy Collins read and were delightful. These book really brings you there as an audience member of Dodge and I would highly recommend it.

Apr 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
The question and answer format works beautifully. I would love to read ten volumes of this! What poets say about poetry in general is super interesting. There are just enough poems included to give it all context.
Saw this special on PBS about the National Storytelling Festival and had to buy the book. Highly recommended.
Debra S.
Apr 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
a great one chapter before turning out the lights book--a little poetry and musings.
Dec 15, 2009 rated it really liked it
More from Moyers and the great contemporary poets
May 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I borrowed this from the library, but want a copy for my own. Terrific sampling of (a wide range of) poets who discuss specific poems & their craft of poetry.

Jun 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, 2012, poetry
It's nice to get to know the poets behind the poems a bit, and who better to facilitate such a thing than Bill Moyers? ...more
Aug 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A fabulous book where Moyers interviews several poets who are at the Dodge Festival and speaks with them about their craft. Includes eexamples form each of the poets. LOved it!
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Billy Don "Bill" Moyers is an American journalist and public commentator. He served as White House Press Secretary in the United States President Lyndon B. Johnson Administration from 1965-1967. He worked as a news commentator on television for ten years. Moyers had an extensive involvement with public television, producing documentaries and news journal programs. He has won numerous awards and ho ...more

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