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u/zebulonworkshops · 1 pointr/Poetry

Don't take that the wrong way, and definitely don't bail on Bone & Ink. I was just saying that 'success' as a writer is hard to measure, but any real amount of it involves much larger audiences. Few people are successful in that way quickly, it takes time to get used to both writing and publishing. Poetry is in a unique place because it sort of walks point for the nation in many ways. One of the main goals of poetry is surprise, and because the white male perspective has been the defacto voice of educated literati for some time, the fertility of new perspectives provides unique interpretations of the world... or, poetry's all about looking at both the macro and the micro with various lenses... sorry to point to something so common, but Wallace Stevens' 13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird really is a good way to think of perspective's role in poetry. And to illustrate how different lenses can greatly impact the picture shown.

I mean, my journal acceptances mean next-to-nothing (at least to hiring boards) and I've had well over 100 in some good journals. Don't get caught up on success, is the point. But you should definitely be proud of your accomplishments so far. It's a very good start.

As far as Red Dashboard, it depends. If you're super confident in the poems you could try contacting them and say you've had a change of heart and want to work on the poems more before they're published (never a bad idea), or that you want to publish more of the individual poems first, whatever. Also, you could just dust your hands off and get working harder on more poems. There's nothing intrinsically wrong with the book a vanity press publishes, it's the lack of peer review that allows the bad in with the good. If you are happy with what you've sent, work with them to make it the best it can be and buy a bunch of copies for yourself and to sell if you do any readings or anything, but don't expect them to do much with it. You're the PR person when it comes even to a lot of normal small presses.

Going forward the biggest thing I can recommend is to read as much as you can. And only some classic stuff, at least half or more should be literary journals and anthologies of stuff from the last few decades. Read as much as you can and while you're reading, take notes, not like study notes, but when something sticks out underline it or better yet, start a google doc file and type/copy in bits you like with the poet's name and the poem title. I also highly recommend classes. You need to approach them with the right frame of mind, but if you do they can be invaluable. Even adult school/community college classes. A workshop allows you direct feedback from readers who are also writers, often not sugarcoated how others might. You have to understand that your words aren't the golden record of communication and some parts may be unclear to readers who only have the words on the page and their own (often very different from your own) life experience. Because it's easy for young writers to forget that poetry and language in general is a contrivance invented to express our understanding and observations of the world with others in as universally understandable way as possible. It doesn't matter what you mean by words if the reader cannot reach that meaning with the key (words in the poem) that you've given them. Abstractions (non-physical things like love, many, smelly etc) are different to everyone and therefore should be used with caution. But mainly, take all comments with a grain of salt. Take the time to get as out of your own headspace as possible (detach yourself from ownership/creatorship of the piece) and objectively analyse if the change would make the piece better, or, sometimes they'll have a point with making an objection while you want to solve it in an alternative way.

Sorry, I'm meandering a bit because I'm writing this in snippets while working. Here are a couple recommendations that I really think will help:

  1. Buy used books. Poets end up owning a lot of books. If money's no issue, go ham, especially on poets' individual collections because that actually affects them personally. But even then, for older books and anthologies, def go used, it's often like 80% or more cheaper, especially for poetry books.

    Poetry 180 is a free website with 180 accessible and very good poems. I usually point young writers there because it's almost entirely contemporary work, and it's easy to read and understand without sacrificing quality of writing. And it's relatively ecclectic. Not too much of the 'MFA' poems as I take you to mean. Billy Collins was the US Poet Laureate when he began the project and it's still rolling today. He's a good writer to check out too, and he's all over the internet. But, old white guy perspective trigger warning. haha.

    In the Palm of Your Hand: The Poet's Portable Workshop Buy this used for $5.14 with shipping. You won't regret it. It's kinda a DIY poetry workshop. It has themed sections and many poems to illustrate its craft points. Steve Kowit was an amazing poet and teacher and he's sadly missed. Also it's very accessible. Kowit was pretty core in the 'school' of poetry with many names, including "ultra-talk" "stand-up poetry" and a bunch of others, but basically, they use colloquial, often straightforward language and often include elements of humor and pop culture. If that sounds up your alley I cannot more highly recommend the anthology Stand Up Poetry: An Expanded Anthology edited by Charles Harper Webb. It's definitely one of my favorite anthologies. It's a little more expensive at $8.75 with shipping (these quotes may be slightly dif to CAN, but it should be close), but absolutely worth it.

    The Poet's Companion: A Guide to the Pleasures of Writing Poetry edited by Kim Addonizio and Dorianne Laux. Bother are tremendous poets and their work on this anthology is really really insightful and helpful for young poets. It was for me. This one is about $8.

    If you buy those three anthologies for a total of like $23US, and you read them and try the suggested exercises I can all but guarantee you'll become a better poet. Of course there are millions of ways to progress your poetry, I'd never claim this is the only or the absolute best way, but it will definitely improve your writing in a way that just aimless reading and writing will not.

    As for publishing, Duotrope is amazing, but has a subscription fee so for the moment you can do most research at free places. I recommend

    The Review Review (reviews of journals, lists, interviews with editors and articles regarding publishing)

    New Pages (see desc. of TRR)


    Poets and Writers (great craft articles, a decent journal database and a great contest calendar)

    And... don't be afraid of rejection. Even continued rejection. I have pieces that have been rejected upwards of 30 times get accepted at journals much more prestigious than a lot of journals that had already rejected it. Poetry is highly subjective (though, there are metrics, standards of craft that all poems are measured against before subjectivity really comes into play). Reading poetry, even, can be subjective. I once accidentally resubmitted the same poem to a journal 5 years after it had been rejected and it was accepted the second time with very little in way of changes. So yeah, you have to get your writing to a certain place, but once you're beyond that, it's largely a numbers game that you get better and better at managing as you become more intimately familiar with journals and your writing gains nuance and you feel more comfortable in your voice.

    If you have any more questions or need more recommendations let me know, always trying to help young poets find their path. I know my own path would've been much different with some earlier direction, but I'm very grateful for what I received eventually.
u/CaptainBananaFish · 3 pointsr/Poetry

There's the Giant Book of Poetry which is over 700 pages and basically spans all of written history (from years BC to poets born in the 1980's). There's bound to be something you like in there.

There's also The Vintage Book of Contemporary World Poetry (vintage here refers to the publisher, in case you were thinking "vintage" and "contemporary" were contradictory lol). This book has a wide variety of poets that might be lesser known since they aren't American, but still includes some well loved poets including Pablo Neruda and Seamus Heaney. This is a great one too.

I've recommended this a few times on here but there is also the Best American Poetry Series. It comes out every year. Basically, a prominent poet is chosen as the editor each year and they choose the best (totally subjective, but still) poems that were published in literary magazines that year. While it's limited to American poets, it provides a huge variety of poets both established and emerging. Also, it comes out every year, so that's pretty awesome too. The most recent one is Best American Poetry 2013 whish was edited by one of my favorite poets, Denise Duhamel. Totally recommend it. Good luck, hope this was helpful!

u/Kyrekoon · 1 pointr/Poetry

Here are some books I've read that I guess you could call "craft" books. I'm not speaking against craft books. They can be helpful, but again I would remind you that the best teacher is poetry itself. Craft books have to be taken for what they are, which is often that poet's own perspective on poetry that may conflict fundamentally with your own. But, there are some things that are helpful, and I know some of them may seem kind of "basic" but trust me they are helpful. You should never think you have poetry figured out. Once you feel that way I think you've already lost.

Anyway here are some books I've read, not always through classes but some are.
A Broken Thing: Poets on the Line- Edited by Emily Rosko & Anton Vander Zee. This is a collection of short essays by poets on the poetic line. Look at it as a way of collecting ideas about what lines can do, because many of these essays will contradict each other. It's not because one is wrong, it's because the line can do a lot of things.

The Making of a Poem by Mark Strand and Eavan Boland is a great book if you want to study forms more closely. It is an anthology of poetic forms, so it gives you the basic "rules" of the form, and then a ton of old and modern examples of the form. A good way to do a close study of specific forms.

Two come to mind. One is The Sounds of Poetry: a Brief Guide by Robert Pinsky. This is one that will feel somewhat basic because Pinsky frames it for beginners, but I promise it is helpful to review. He really understands sound better than most.

Two, if you want to understand meter better, which every poet should, this is the best book on meter: Poetic Meter and Poetic Form by Paul Fussell. It's out of print but you can probably find a copy at a local library, or at a university library. You may have to pay for access to it, but it's cheaper than a $100 for a used copy.

Finally, Singing School by Robert Pinsky. Again, going to feel a bit basic. The whole book's purpose is to teach you to write and read poetry by doing imitations. Do not devalue the importance of imitating better poets than yourself. Every poet, even Keats, started by doing imitations. This book is a good guide to starting a practice of imitating. Imitations actually help you discover yourself as a writer better because you realize where you can and can't sound like another poet. Those are good things because often those can't's are what you find to be the things that make you unique. It also just really hones some basic skills every poet should have.

Hope this helps! Best advice I can give you is read actual poetry and write every single day.

u/theBrokentower · 1 pointr/Poetry

The best poetry (the arts, really) resource on the web, courtesy of Dan Schneider - no, not of Nickelodeon infamy, another one. Here's the link, and just dive in. Got some very strong perspectives regarding poetry and the arts, that many find off-putting, but he's invaluable, to my estimation.


If you find a poem that you like, but can't immediately access intellectually, see if you can find an entry of it on Shmoop. I love Plath and Stevens and Crane, but couldn't tackle them full on as a poetry novice. Shmoop (and others) helped me gain some insight on some of their poems. Stevens's "The Idea of Order at Key West" is a doozy, but Shmoop's analysis helped clarify some difficult passages.


And like everyone else has said, keep reading - anything and everything by anyone. The more you passionately pursue the subject, the more you'll find things beginning to make sense. Also, an excellent book for poetry lovers who want to delve into the craft: Mary Oliver's A Poetry Handbook.


Hope this helps!

u/Mitch1musPrime · 2 pointsr/Poetry

I believe form is critical at times. As a HS English teacher with a creative writing background, I see lots of my colleagues doing the awesome work of including poetry writing into their curriculum, but they focus so strongly on free verse and spoken word that the students do not honestly understand the genre tools they are trying to wield.

Form provides structure and context for the writer and the reader. Repetitious forms (villanelles seem to be especially popular in contemporary form poetry) call a readers attention to those repeated lines and phrases. Of course, in keeping with our creatively libertarian times, contemporary writers (and my students I teach form to), are given authority to break some of the rules so long as the structure still remains largely in tact.

Ultimately, I agree with those who have said that it really depends on what you are trying to write. I have tried to jam some poems into forms that didn’t work for the content.

I highly recommend this book:

It was a required text for a college course I took, I use it with my students now, and even gave my copy to an especially talented young writer in my classroom to keep (I need to use this link to order my new copy!).

Form matters. Free verse is good, too. It has its place. But form matters.

u/clearisland · 7 pointsr/Poetry

I'm a kind of casual reader these days, but Good Poems, selected by Garrison Keillor played a huge part in me getting into poetry ~10 years ago. Keillor grabs a good range of old classics and newer ones (though he kinda seems to favor beat era writers), and sorts the poems vaguely according to themes, like "Failure," "A Day's Work," "Sons and Daughters." I'd bet I've discovered 80% of my favorite writers due to this book. Props to u/JTK102 for also recommending this!

If that's too entry level, my other go-to anthology is The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Poetry, but obviously that one sticks to contemporary American writers. I like this anthology because it also gives some background to the career and cultural significance of the featured writers.

Good luck on your hunt!

u/gwrgwir · 3 pointsr/Poetry

I've always found the Norton collections to be a solid starting point for good poetry.

are all excellent introductions to reading. Very broadly speaking, classical poetry is more focused on rhyme and imagery that many can comprehend (albeit with some effort), while modern poetry is more focused on free verse and word choices, and tends to use imagery that's more self-referential (that's just my experience, though).

In terms of writing, I'd suggest scanning through /r/OCPoetry to see poetry written from a mostly modern, mostly amateur perspective.

What you're saying so far is basically akin to 'I want to know more about the ocean and everything living in it/relating to it. I know what a tuna, a blue whale, a great white shark, and an octopus are, but I don't know where to go to get information about them and learn about them. Can you guys help me find good sources for everything from marine biology to oceanography and everything in between?'

As such, my suggestion for the Norton's. If you find something that you like, you can help narrow your search field a bit, and it'll be a heckuva lot easier to help (in your reading search, that is).

Writing's a whole different ballgame, and I defer to /u/jessicay and/or /u/ActualNameIsLana for (possibly) helping you out a bit more on that topic, as they've far more experience than me.

u/Trivian · 1 pointr/Poetry

Off the top of my head...

Pound's Literary Essays

Zukofsky's A Test of Poetry

Ciardi's How Does a Poem Mean

... have all been useful to me. Otherwise, since there are particular poets you're interested in, you should definitely check out any (auto)biographical books that may be available.

For the record, if you haven't already read him, I'm a big Louis Zukofsky fan; given your list, I think you'd like his stuff. "A" is probably my favourite poem generally, and they very recently released the new edition of it. Part 9 (if I remember correctly) is composed of quotes from Das Kapital and he has some very significant Marxist influences. If you're interested in reading up on Marxism, too, I can recommend some excellent critical books - although, as it stands, Schumpeter's Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy is really good general view of things.

Hope this helps!

u/Achilles015 · 1 pointr/Poetry

I've run a certain Haiku exercise with great success. You may need to alter the exercise to make it more accessible for your non-native speakers, but maybe you can find a way to make some or all of it work:

Start with a brief, accessible description of Haikai no Renga. Have the students pass a piece of paper around and create their own version that captures the spirit of the exercise.

Next, give a brief history on Basho and the way he morphed Linked Verse into Haiku. Go over the subtle intricacies of traditional Haiku, everything beyond the simple syllabic rules--cutting (kiru), seasonal references (kigo), etc. Have the students create their own classical haikus.

Finally, using Haiku as a base, give the students some insight into the incredible formative power of translation. The introduction to Hass' Essential Haiku is a goldmine of eloquent insight.

A highly effective professor once had my class read different translations of Rilke's [Archiac Torso of Apollo] ( and discuss the differences, something else you might want to try.

Good luck, hope this suggestion helps!

u/essentialsalts · 3 pointsr/Poetry

As for reading, check out The Poetry Foundation. They have a huge archive of poetry for you to check out. Hang out in this subreddit and read the poems posted. If you like a poem, post a comment and ask which poets are similar to that style, then look them up. The OCPoetry subreddit has a wealth of original poetry content - but keep in mind that the caliber of work there will obviously be mixed. But it's good to see the contributions of ordinary people, either as a way of engaging with a community or as a barometer of your own abilities once you start writing.

And as for writing, I can't recommend this book enough: Ted Kooser's Poetry Home Repair Manual. It's worth the 10-15 bucks or whatever to order it. It contains lots of examples of poetry from many authors, and Kooser's advice is indispensable.

And always remember - with any art, you want to take in more than you put out. Read more than you write. Absorb everything you can. I get the impression that most mediocre OCpoetry that I read is probably written by people who haven't taken the time to actually read poetry. It's essential. Good luck!

u/TheRighteousMind · 3 pointsr/Poetry

I mean, you really need to be reading anthologies to get a basis of the poetic tradition and then move on to individual books. While individual books of poetry help you get a sense of each writer, getting a taste of many poets throughout many periods is the only way to really become well versed (pun-intended). Also, part of the way to learn how to read poetry more critically is learn how to write poetry, or at least what goes into writing poetry. And my personal advice is to purposefully read poetry that is hard for you to grasp or find interest in, whether that be due to understanding or content (e.g. Yeats and his faeries don’t interest me in the slightest).

Theory/Reading Critically:

u/tokumeikibou · 9 pointsr/Poetry

A much less serious but still worthy book is The Ode Less Traveled.

It only really covers meter and classic forms, but it's very fun, has great examples and exercises to try at the end of every chapter. Plus you can get it for less than 10usd.

u/coatimundim · 2 pointsr/Poetry

[A Poetry Handbook by Mary Oliver] (

I'm not a big fan of Mary Oliver's work but this book is growing on me. There are things I agree with like studying poetry more than writing poetry, and hearing the words of a poem being important.

But I don't agree with the whole "poets are born but need training" idea. I do think anyone could be a good poet with enough willpower and practice. At least that's what I'm hoping for in my case.

u/Luke_Orlando · 1 pointr/Poetry

My favorite poetry book that I take everywhere is The Making of a Poem. It's a Norton Anthology and it's amazing. Honestly recommend reading it cover to cover if you want a foundation in traditional forms.

It's currently 15 bucks on Amazon!

u/radicalradicalrad · 2 pointsr/Poetry

Gary Snyder is my favorite Beat, and by far my favorite character in Kerouac's On The Road 'trilogy'. And you can get the huge tome that is the Gary Snyder Reader Vol. One for only like nine bucks used. Definitely a must-have collection.

u/whisky_slurrd · 3 pointsr/Poetry

I would highly recommend buying a copy of this book.

This is a great tool for beginners and pros alike. It provides structured exercises that help to get your creative juices flowing.

u/Poedditor · 1 pointr/Poetry

Nimenoz, nice first attempt. You should read this if you're interested in the historical basis for haiku and why certain elements are included and other elements not included in traditional haiku. I guarantee your haiku writing will improve dramatically in a small amount of time.

Here's a sneak peak:

u/wordshop101 · 2 pointsr/Poetry

Eavon Boland and Mark Strand's anthology 'The Making of a Poem' may be the perfect resource for you. The editors arranged the collection according to poetic form with each chapter containing brief histories, descriptions, and exemplar works to illustrate the many ways in which they can behave. Blank verse, sonnet, villanelle, sestina--it's a trove of wonderful models to work from, a truly invaluable resource for someone writing their first (or thousandth) poem. Link below:

u/HomeIsHades · 2 pointsr/Poetry

I would recommend The Ode Less Travelled by Stephen Fry. It might not strike you as college level but it works through all the techniques used by poets and serves as a solid intro while remaining accessible.

I believe the poster 0HAO is referring to this course from Open Yale: Modern Poetry. I would recommend this as a good intro to the modern period along with many of the key poets, though the video lectures alone teach you little about how poems are made up. Langdon Hammer is also great at reading poetry IMO.

u/rustinisrad · 3 pointsr/Poetry

I would suggest a first read where you just let the lines kind of wash over you. Don't try to interpret it immediately. Just let the words exist in the space around you and see where the poem elicits emotion from you. Then use that experience to zero in on those places first and try to see how the poet used certain language to evoke those feelings. I would also say it's a good idea to look for certain forms of figurative language and map them out (metaphor, simile, personification, etc). From a general mapping of those sorts of things, you can begin to interpret the form of the poem and try to understand exactly what the writer is trying to say/accomplish.

I suggest this book as a guide as well:

u/allthegoo · 3 pointsr/Poetry

Good Poems is my go-to for a great, well-rounded collection of poems.

u/lemon_meringue · 2 pointsr/Poetry

The best book I have ever read about writing poetry is Richard Hugo's The Triggering Town: Lectures and Essays on Poetry and Writing. I honestly cannot recommend it highly enough.

Here are some choice quotes from the book.

u/ciderbear · 1 pointr/Poetry

Staying Alive is a great anthology of poems and it has a bit of everything.

u/KetchG · 3 pointsr/Poetry

I personally quite enjoyed James Fenton's "An Introduction To English Poetry". It's not a big book, but well worth a read.

u/ellie_bird · 1 pointr/Poetry

I know this was a month ago, but check out the Restored Edition of Ariel here:

The original was published by Hughes, who reorganized the collection and left out a couple poems. It might have what you're looking for.

u/iampete · 2 pointsr/Poetry

It's not "small" (fairly thick), but I've really been enjoying Good Poems, edited by Garrison Keillor.

u/LifeApprentice · 3 pointsr/Poetry

For simple to understand poetry that still has a point, there's a collection by Billy Collins that I absolutely love called "Poetry 180." I think that the intent of the book was for it to be an introduction to poetry accessible to high schoolers. It has a lot of short, pithy poems that I still think a lot about.

u/NoGodButDog · 1 pointr/Poetry

If you're interested in writing poetry, I recommend picking up The Triggering Town by Richard Hugo.

u/jimdalyxoxo · 1 pointr/Poetry

mhmm. u cn buy a copy of this for $26 USD, it's got all kinds of poems in there. otherwise just torrent a copy and read through it, real easy. gl

u/K0suki · 1 pointr/Poetry

The Making of a Poem: The Norton anthology of Poetic Forms is an invaluable read.

Otherwise, read poetry; writers read several times more than they write.

The Poetry Foundation website is a great place to start.

u/MrWhelmed · 3 pointsr/Poetry

All the Millay you could ever want (or enough to keep you reading for quite a while). Approximately 740 pages of her work for $13 new. Enjoy!

u/tomphn · 3 pointsr/Poetry

Poetry 180 is a good beginner's anthology. It was made when Billy Collins was poet laureate for the U.S. and provides a host of contemporary poems that are not too difficult to get through.

Another anthology that I enjoy is the The Best of American Poetry especially the 25th edition which incorporates poems from the past 25 or so years. You'll find stuff in there that you'll hate (i.e. why is this even in here?) and some stuff that you'll fall head over heels with.

Other than that I'll second Norton's but it's a bit heavy for a beginner.

u/brittlepage · 2 pointsr/Poetry

Also a college student here. I just bought one from Amazon for 12ish bucks and it’s pretty good (didn’t have ‘I, being a woman’ though, oddly) but you can buy it used for around $4.

Collected Poems

u/xstegosaurusx · 1 pointr/Poetry

I think you would really like this book:

It traces the movement of what they call "Hybrid Poetry," (essentially, experimental poetry with formal characteristics) in the 20th Century. Good introductory essays by the authors as well. I'm less swayed by your type of poetry than more conventional forms... but that's something I'm working on.

u/Bells-On-Sunday · 2 pointsr/Poetry

An Introduction to English Poetry by James Fenton is a great book that covers both aspects of your question. It's a short book but very compact, which means it may take you a long time to digest it. It's full of insight and expertise, can't recommend it highly enough.

u/SawyerAvery · 1 pointr/Poetry

A Test of Poetry by Louis Zukofsky. Dense, but a must once your on your way a bit.

u/LittleHelperRobot · 1 pointr/Poetry

Non-mobile: Gary Snyder Reader Vol. One

^That's ^why ^I'm ^here, ^I ^don't ^judge ^you. ^PM ^/u/xl0 ^if ^I'm ^causing ^any ^trouble. ^WUT?

u/jessicay · 2 pointsr/Poetry

The Norton Anthology of Poetry is an investment, but will have lots of older, modern, and contemporary poetry.

u/Rocksteady2R · 1 pointr/Poetry

Why Poetry, By Matthew Zapruder.

(A) I can't fully vouch for this book, haven't read it thru and thru yet.

(B) I just picked it up literally 2 days ago.

(C) In the bookstore though, the flap, intro and a few random samplings seemed to make it a reasonable read.

He doesnt' take on an acedemic stance about rhyme and meter and iambic pentameters etc, but talks more about how we tend to read poems, how we've culturally beeen trained to read poems, and offers some strategy on how to break down the language and motifs.

So it seems.

That's all I got for you.

u/poetrypedant · 2 pointsr/Poetry

To go with the Norton Anthology, consider picking up The Making of a Poem
You can find a used copy for next to nothing, because it is also used as a textbook.

u/Slurveskipper · 1 pointr/Poetry

Everything I would advise against in poetry you use in this piece.

If you can't find a creative writing class to take, check this out: