Friday, February 8, 2013

A Trio of Writer's Bookshelf Favorites, Poetry Friday Edition

Happy Poetry Friday, all!

Esther kicked off our current topic, recommendations for your writer's bookshelf, by sharing a favorite of hers I'd never heard of: M. B. Goffstein's A Writer.

I have so many cherished books on my writer's bookshelf that it's hard to pick just one, so I'm going to share three. And, in honor of Poetry Friday, they're all poetry-related.

First up, I'd like to recommend my favorite book on writing poetry, Mary Oliver's A Poetry Handbook: A Prose Guide to Understanding and Writing Poetry (Mariner Books). One of the book's most enlightening chapters for me is the one titled "Sound." Its opening paragraph reads like a poem:
"To make a poem, we must make sounds. Not random sounds, but chosen sounds."  
Oliver goes on to explain that "A 'rock' is not a 'stone'" when it comes to sound. And she offers advice on how to choose words with sounds that best fit a poem's meaning and mood. While aimed at poets, this book contains valuable advice for picture book authors and novelists, too.

The second book I'd like to recommend is Seeing the Blue Between: Advice and Inspiration for Young Poets (Candlewick), compiled by Paul B. Janeczko. Here's an excerpt from the book's description:
 ". . . in this unprecedented volume, thirty-two internationally renowned poets provide words of wisdom and inspiring examples of their own work for new poets everywhere. . . . This rich volume - an ideal resource for classroom teachers and a beautiful gift for budding writers of all ages - offers the perfect opportunity to do just that." 

Since today is Poetry Friday, I'll share the first stanza of one of my favorite poems in this collection:

      Poets Go Wishing
      by Lilian Moore

      Poets go fishing
      with buckets
      of words,
      and wishing. . . . 

(You can see the entire poem reproduced in this blog post at Blue Sky, Big Dreams.)

I love the image of poets "fishing with buckets of words." My third and final recommended title today is a journal to help all poets on their fishing expeditions: The Poet's Notebook: Inspiration, Techniques, and Advice on Craft (Running Press), created by David Stanford Burr. As the description says,
"Part blank journal, part helpful workbook and reference, its pages are highlighted with insights from famous poets, an exercise to summon the muse, and definitions of classic poetic techniques. . . . This ingenious and useful writing tool also includes a six-page appendix with rules of form, meter, and rhythm to help readers compose their own sonnets, haiku, and other poems."
It's a slim, lightweight journal that's easy to carry along on your next "fishing" expedition.

If you have any recommendations for poetry-related books from your writer's bookshelf, I hope you'll share them in the comments. And don't forget to check out the Poetry Friday round up today at A Teaching Life. And, in case you missed it, be sure to read the poem, "Pencil Speaks to Writer" by our Mystery Guest TeachingAuthor in our latest Wednesday Writing Workout.

Happy writing!


Joyce Ray said...

Hi Carmela, Mary Oliver's Handbook is on my shelf, too. Great book! Thanks for writing about Seeing the Blue Between It sounds like one I should check out.

One of my favorites is A Surge of Language, Teaching Poetry Day by Day by Baron Wormser and David Capella. Their method of dictation is based on their belief that poetry is "muscular and physical." This book taught me how to help others "unpack" a poem.

Bridget Magee said...

On my way to get Mary Oliver's book. I love the idea of "chosen sounds". Thanks for sharing. =)

Carmela Martino said...

Hi Joyce, thanks for the book suggestion. I'll have to check it out. And Bridget, I hope you find Mary Oliver's book helpful.

Margaret Simon said...

I love Mary Oliver and have a collection of her poetry books and this handbook.

I had the privilege to attend workshops with Sandford Lyne. His book was published near the time of his death in 2007. Speaking of fishing for words, he used this metaphor when talking to kids about fishing for poems. In his book, he provides the "bait" needed, wordgroups. The book is Writing Poetry from the Inside Out.

I am putting Janeczko's book on my list.

Thanks for sharing.

Carmela Martino said...

Thanks, Margaret. I'll have to take a look at Lynne's book.

Linda B said...

Very late commenting, but wanted to say thanks for the Mary Oliver suggestion. I'm sure it's wonderful, Carmela. I have quite a few poetry books for teaching, and have used and lent Knock At A Star by the Kennedys often, for younger writers. My favorite for adolescents, along with all Fletcher's books, is Important Words by William Brown. I think adults could benefit & be inspired by it, too.

Carmela Martino said...

Linda, thanks for sharing these titles. I'll have to take a look.

Beth Cregan said...

Have only just discovered your blog and so glad I stumbled across it! Great content. Just writing a poetry workshop so these books will come in handy.

Carmela Martino said...

Welcome, Beth! We're so glad you found us!