Book: A Poetry Handbook: A Prose Guide to Understanding and Writing Poetry by Mary Oliver
Publisher: A Harvest Original
Publication date: 1994
Summary: A gentle teaching text with definitions, structures, and encouragement to read and write poems. From the introduction of A Poetry Handbook by Mary Oliver:
This book is about the things that can be learned. It is about matters of craft, primarily. It is about the part of the poem that is a written document, as opposed to a mystical document, which of course the poem is also. p. 1
Thoughts: That summary makes A Poetry Handbook sound dry, but it isn’t. Mary Oliver writes with the imagery that you would expect from a poet and humor, that you might not expect. As a librarian, I loved that we not only got words to describe sounds but the story about where she found those words (a textbook from 1860).
To talk about poems, one needs a vocabulary and A Poetry Handbook means to provide that. The book provided me with three Wondrous Words Wednesday posts during National Poetry Month:
Like most people, I suppose, I mostly ignore poetry. Except during April, when I still mostly ignore poetry but also feel guilty about it. Reading A Poetry Handbook was a delightful way to honor the month, and poetry, without feeling like I ventured into an arena that was too far-out to be fun for me.
Appeal: A Poetry Handbook is a foundational book for anyone who reads or writes poetry. But, I think, anyone who writes will find this book helpful. It most reminded me of Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose, with beautiful writing that expresses a gentle, enthusiastic tone.
Challenges: A Poetry Handbook is my 8th book for the Nonfiction Reading Challenge. I intended to read 16-20 books, so I’m doing well on that one.
Have you read this book? What did you think?