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July 14, 2007

A Poetry Handbook

    We all know that the seed of a good poem is found in the heart or the soul - in some place of magic. To help that seed bloom onto the page all emerging poets can use an expert guide. Enter Mary Oliver’s A Poetry Handbook.

   An accomplished poet (she’s won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award), Oliver refers to a poem as a love affair between the heart and “the learned skills of the conscious mind.” Her book aims to help readers develop those learned poetry skills, and with the inviting yet challenging voice of an excellent teacher, Oliver achieves her goal.

   Meant to be an introduction to poetry skills, this not-too-thick handbook begins with Oliver encouraging readers to read lots and lots of poetry because “good poems are the best teachers.” The handbook goes on to help you weave sound into your poems by teaching you what mutes, liquids and aspirates are as well as other sound instruments. With lots of examples, Oliver will show you how line breaks can bring rhythm and meaning to your poems, how to add texture by moving toward the particular, and how and why to avoid language that is “out of electricity.”

   This slim book is packed with knowledge poets should know. Read A Poetry Handbook and you’ll walk away with more poetry skills and a confidence boost, which will help you grow your poems from seeds into beautiful flowers.

    For more information about Mary Oliver, click here.

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