- Paperback: 288 pages
- Publisher: Tilbury House Publishers; 1 edition (June 1, 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0884481492
- ISBN-13: 978-0884481492
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars See all reviews (65 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #102,671 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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In the Palm of Your Hand: The Poet's Portable Workshop 1st Edition
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Steve Kowit believes, and rightly so, that poetry should show, not tell. The same could be said for good teaching, which is what makes this volume so remarkable. In In the Palm of Your Hand Kowit employs more than 100 poems and excerpts to illustrate his discussions on everything from metaphor to meter to metaphysics. Working your way through this book--and it is work--is like sitting in on a terrific creative-writing seminar, minus the criticism (both constructive and destructive) of fellow students. If you go by the book, you'll have written at least 69 poems by the end. Because of its explication of the basic tenets of poetry, In the Palm of Your Hand might be mistaken for a beginners' book only. That would be a shame. There are so many good ideas here that more experienced poets won't want to miss out; Kowit has lots of exciting ways to invigorate one's writing. (Here's a favorite quick tip: "A good rule of thumb is never to use a word that you're proud of.") In the Palm of Your Hand is also recommended for members of writing groups who are interested in imposing some kind of structure on their meetings.
Kowit really delivers what his title promises, so that reading the book is like taking a workshop with a generous poet willing to share everything he has learned about the creative process and the craft of poetry. Conversational in tone, it reads rather like an informal lecture. Kowit covers a lot of technical material on metrical variations and line breaks and sound, and he balances it by attending to the sources of poetry in dream and emotion, in longing and loss. Although likely to find its largest audience among aspiring poets, Kowit's effort is substantial enough to be of use to more practiced poets and to poetry readers, too. Patricia Monaghan
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Top Customer Reviews
His style is friendly, engaging, encouraging, occasionally chiding (in the nicest possible way) and very very inspiring. Each section focuses on specific aspects of writing - writing from memories, working with imagery and metaphor, how (and why) to revise, word music, experimental forms, traditional forms etc etc. Even a section on "Aweful Poems"! And believe it or not, that section was one of the most enlightening.
He uses copious examples from contemporary poets to illustrate the points he is trying to get across, and ends each chapter with a series of exercises to make certain that you understand what you've been reading. Sounds tame, sounds boring, sounds mechanical, but oh, it is not!
The final section - Nuts and Bolts - deals with the business of poetry as a business; the pros and cons of Poetry Workshops, where, when and why to start submitting your poetry. That sort of thing. And one of the nicest touches is the poem selected to end the book - Fleur Adcock's "Future Work" (on page 263, go on, have a look). It pretty much sums up the whole feeling of this book.
The only downside is the certainty of writers cramp afterwards ...
As an instructor, Kowit encouraged me to "have fun" with my writing. This book echoes his personally delivered sentiment, since it masquerades as a fun way to approach writing, but actually is a serious tool for poets who are serious about their craft.
This book helped me to examine my old, bad writing habits and ruts. Now, I hold my trite lines up for my own students to scoff at. If I improved, so could they. Under the tutelage of Kowit's warmth and wisdom, I finally am able to churn out good poetry that my professors compliment me for. No one can stop me now.
Thank you, Steve Kowit, for putting this one in the palm of my hand!
I stuck to each and every lesson and poem assignment. If it meant research, I took a trip to the library. An adventure in trying different styles! I would put my mind, body and soul into what I would put on paper. We all know that writers have to write.
Some of my old poems were redone with his ideas. My friends saw my revised poems and went "Oh WOW! And this is from the studies from this book?" A compliment for me and applause for his lessons.
I highly suggest any poet, beginner, intermediate or advanced, to do read this book. AND I would suggest going back and redoing the exercises from the start. It was from my open-mindedness and my perserverance that would have me do each exercise. It wasn't work anymore, it was fun!!
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