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As part of our ongoing “Writer-to-Writer Reviews” series, we’re thrilled to present this book review. The opinions in this commentary do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Writer’s Relief. Feel free to read this week’s featured book, and share your own thoughts about it in our comments section!
This Week: Linda Simone’s review of The Crafty Poet: A Portable Workshop by Diane Lockward (Wind Publications, 2013)
In 282 tip-filled pages, the book not only tells, but shows the reader how to craft a poem. Within the book’s ten topical sections are clear discussions of the poet’s tools: sound, imagery, syntax, lines, diction, and more. Model poems by fifty-six nationally known poets—including thirteen former and current state Poets Laureate—inspire and lead the way. There are also twenty-seven prompts taken from Lockward’s monthly online Poetry Newsletter. If you tackle a prompt every other week, you could have a meaty, chapbook-size manuscript of poems completed in just one year.
Besides the author’s excellent craft advice, the reader also benefits from my favorite segment, “The Poet on the Poem.” And if model poems, poet interviews, and craft tips aren’t enough, Lockward includes sample poems from forty-five additional poets.
The only thing missing from The Crafty Poet—I wish there were blank pages after each of the ten sections, because the book inspires action. I found myself driven to scribble a first draft right in the book’s margins. The Crafty Poet is more than a workshop, it’s a bona fide workbook.
This book is for accomplished and aspiring poets alike. And readers will applaud the portability of The Crafty Poet (easily stowed in a backpack or purse), because most poets don’t earn their living from poetry. They live incredibly busy lives that feed their art.
For a cost far less than the going workshop rate, Diane Lockward has given us a top-notch experience—leaving us no excuse for avoiding the crafting of a poem…or two…or twenty-seven.
About the Contributor
Linda Simone loves all forms of discovery: from helping people realize they can write a poem, to uncovering an emotional truth in the rewrite process. She also loves to use visual art as the spark to a poem—both in teaching workshops and also in her own writing. Learn more on her website.
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