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The Poet's Companion: A Guide to the Pleasures of Writing Poetry Paperback – September 17, 1997


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1st edition (September 17, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393316548
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393316544
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 0.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (70 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #21,325 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"We wanted to create a book," say poets Kim Addonizio and Dorianne Laux in their introduction to The Poet's Companion, "that would focus on both craft and process." The book they have created is an impassioned exploration of poetry writing that addresses subject matter, craft, and the writing life. The reigning wisdom is that poets, like other creative writers, should write what they know. "The trick," say the authors, "is to find out what we know, challenge what we know, own what we know, and then give it away in language." Elsewhere they add that, while "as poets, we need to write from our experience ... that experience may be mental, emotional, and imaginative as well as physical."

Addonizio and Laux are lively spokespersons for the poet's life; they pepper their thoughts with well-chosen poems from their contemporaries--including David Bottoms, Jack Gilbert, Linda Gregg, and Jane Kenyon--and they conclude each short chapter with an invigorating collection of ideas for writing. These "ideas" culminate in a terrific section of writing exercises at book's end: write a poem describing "your most acutely embarrassing moment"; "write a poem of praise for an unlikely group of people, things, ideas"; "write a poem about the last time you saw a loved one you lost." I found myself a bit frustrated by the brevity of the discussions (most chapters are under 10 pages) and a bit put off by the first person plural narrative (do Addonizio and Laux really agree on everything they say they agree on?), but these are mere quibbles. This is a fine book indeed. --Jane Steinberg

From Library Journal

Poets Addonizio and Laux warn against cliche, and although textbooks on writing come a dime a dozen these days, theirs is head and shoulders above the rest. There are three main sections: "Subjects for Writing" (e.g. death, the erotic), "The Poet's Craft" (metaphor, rhyme), and "The Writing Life" (self-doubt, writer's block); four separate appendixes list other writing texts, anthologies, marketing tips, and electronic resources. The many exercises offered emerge largely from the intensive one-day workshops conducted by Addonizio and Laux. Both knowledgeable and practical in their approach, the authors offer everything a poet needs, including one feature more necessary than ever in the postliterate age yet absent from other writing texts: a gentle yet insistent lesson on grammar. Highly recommended for all libraries.?David Kirby, Florida State Univ., Tallahassee
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

Great item and good service.
Amazon Customer
Most of the chapters end with writing exercises, to help give you ideas for poems and practice at writing.
adead_poet@hotmail.com
I recommend this book to any aspiring poet.
"naria"

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

70 of 72 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 14, 1999
Format: Paperback
I've grown a little cynical at the plethora of "How to Write Poetry" books that are out there - I've either read or bought well over two dozen of the things. Most of them are simply saying the same thing over and over and over, and leave you wondering whether the writers are all reading and recycling each other's How To books ...
But this one is different. It is incredibly readable for a start, manages to be warm and friendly and funny at the same time as showing new ways to look at the craft of writing. The best example I can give you is the chapter on grammar ... a terrifying ordeal for a great many of us. But somehow this pair have managed to make it INTERESTING and INSPIRING! They are like the sort of English teacher you wish you could have had at High School. Remember Robin Williams in "Dead Poets Society"? Now you get the picture.
Look, I could go on for hours on this book. Beg, borrow or steal a copy for yourself. This book brought me to tears - all I kept thinking was that it was exactly the book that I needed right now. Try it. You'll agree.
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66 of 68 people found the following review helpful By Julie Jordan Scott on April 9, 2004
Format: Paperback
I almost ruled out reading this book when I read the author's (to me) bold statement on page 225: "Can you write a poem in 20 minutes? We seriously doubt it."
Being, at times, a very fast poet, I *gasped* when I read that assertion! (Don't ask me how I got to page 225 before I read the rest of the book but nonetheless, it stuck out to me!)
I kept at it, though, and found my way through the original assessment and into many of the glorious exercises, the truth in words that I so resonate with such as "We don't believe in writer's block. We believe there are times when you are empty and times when you are full."
The section on Metrical poetry is truly magical - I enjoyed learning about how Free-Verse as a form blossomed as well.
There are also many, many valuable resources in the appendices such as Books on Poetry and Writing, Finding Markets for Your Poetry and More Resources for Writers.
Finally, this book is chock full of exercises so that you can continue picking it up and revisit, use, revisit, use some more, revisit over and over again. Definitely worth the investment AND I am so glad I didn't toss it all because of one difference in opinion.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Spk on March 8, 2004
Format: Paperback
I picked this book up by coincidence and am very pleased with it. The authors take a very low key, non-intrusive style combine with their extensive knowledge and experience. There is an inviting style to the book that made it immediately appealing. What I liked most was that the book focused on its basic theme, the pleasures of writing good poetry and then stuck to it without either going away on tangents or repeating their points over and over again as some other authors tend to do.
Each chapter ends with exercises that appear simple and are designed to be so - but allow you to explore specific areas and concepts.
They have also selected sample poems to illustrate specific points (they are terrific poems to boot!).
My favorite chapters were the ones on rhyme, rythm and repetition. I was worried that since modern poetry has become so free form that there was no more place for rhyme, rythm or repetition and the authors do a fine job of explaining their role in today's poetry.
I fully expect to be using this wonderful book as a guide and inspiration for a long time to come.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By "naria" on June 26, 2001
Format: Paperback
Excellent book. The exercises are phenomenal. I tried the exercise that gives you about 14 words you must use in the body of your poem,. From this exercise I wrote two poems. One abstract and one long. Each poem was published. I also did the exercise with a suggested title, this was published. Kim and Dorriane give you clear examples of different types of poetry. The authors knowledge is so deep you learn the inner life of quality poetry and what makes a poem resonate to others. I recommend this book to any aspiring poet. This book is priceless.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By adead_poet@hotmail.com on May 20, 2003
Format: Paperback
It comes as no surpise (since Dorianne Laux is a great poet and Addonzio is one of the best of her generation) that this is a great guide to writing poety (I love the subtitle: "A Guide to the Pleasures of Writing Poetry"-- note the pleasures). And it's good for any level of experience. It has a lot to teach the beginner, a help to the intermediate, and even the advanced student of poetry can get some ideas from this book. The first section of the book covers some subjects for writing, including family, death, and the erotic. Most of the book discussing the craft of poetry. The chapters deal with images, simile and metaphore, the line, voice, dreams and experiments, meter and rhyme, repetition and rhythm, the villanell, panotoum, and sestina, grammr, and revision. Then they have a section titled "The Writing Life" which deals with self-doubt, writer's block, getting published, and the internet. Most of the chapters end with writing exercises, to help give you ideas for poems and practice at writing. And at the end of the book they have their "Tweny-Minute Wriitng Exercises." Addonizio and Laux chose, in general, great poems to illustrate whatever they are discussing. And the book even has several useful appenices: Books on Poetry and Writing; Anthologies for Further Reading; Finding Markets for Your Poems; and More Resources for Writers. It's a great guide and useful teaching tool, and told in a conversational, interesting voice. It's a purchase no poet will regret.
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