As I mentioned in my previous post, I recently attended a poetry workshop led by poet (and Barrett Chair of Creative Writing at The College of the Holy Cross) Robert Cording. Throughout week, he recommended a number of books and poets that could help us in learning and understanding how a good poem is crafted. A few of the other attendees had their own recommendations as well, and I thought I’d compile a list of them here for anyone else who is interested. Happy Amazon shopping!
The Poetry of Persuasion by Carl Dennis (focuses on developing the speaker)
Fields of Light by Ruben Brower (for learning how to read poetry well. This is currently out of print but is being re-issued in paperback this fall)
The Art of Syntax by Ellen Bryant Voigt (fairly self-explanatory; also on syntax–B.H. Fairchild recommended Virginia Tufte’s Artful Sentences: Syntax as Style at another workshop a few years ago)
The Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus (for finding just the right word)
Poets to learn from:
Carl Dennis (for transitions)
Marilyn Hacker (for how to use rhyme and structure well)
Tony Hoagland (for using humor to undercut sentimentality)
Stephen Dunn (one of the “best writers of suburban messiness” & a “master at pointing out his own flaws”)
Donald Hall (for how to do a rant poem)
W.B. Yeats (for dialogue poems/anticipating and responding to an ‘opposing’ voice)
While I’m at it, I’ll put in a couple more that B.H. Fairchild recommended at a previous workshop that I’ve actually read:
The Poetry Home Repair Manual by Ted Kooser (a very accessible and enjoyable read; some good basics about writing poetry)
A Poet’s Guide to Poetry by Mary Kinzie (the opposite end of the spectrum from Kooser’s book–very dense and technical, it’s a kind of ‘graduate course’ in writing poetry)
If you have any additional recommendations, feel free to share.