A poetry handbook

Mary Oliver, 1935-2019

Book - 1994

Offers advice on reading and writing poetry, and discusses imitation, sound, the line, poem forms, free verse, diction, imagery, revision, and workshops.

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Subjects
Genres
Handbooks and manuals
Published
San Diego : Harcourt Brace & Company [1994]
Edition
First edition
Language
English
Item Description
Includes index.
"A prose guide to understanding and writing poetry"--Cover.
Physical Description
viii, 130 pages ; 21 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN
9780156724005
0156724006
Main Author
Mary Oliver, 1935-2019 (author)
  • Getting ready
  • Reading poems
  • Imitation
  • Sound
  • More devices of sound
  • The line
  • Some given forms
  • Verse that is free
  • Diction, tone, voice
  • Imagery
  • Revision
  • Workshops and solitude.
Review by Library Journal Reviews

Late in his career, William Butler Yeats urged fellow poets to learn their craft. Heeding his advice, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Oliver (New and Selected Poems, LJ 10/92) provides an excellent handbook for young poets on the formal aspects and structure of poetry. Oliver excels at explaining the sound and sense of poetry-from scansion to imagery, diction to voice. She stresses the importance of reading poetry, since, in order to write well, ``it is entirely necessary to read widely and deeply.'' Sage advice is given in an entire chapter dedicated to revision, wherein Oliver urges poets to consider their first draft ``an unfinished piece of work'' that can be polished and improved later. Written in a pleasant and lucid style, this book is a wonderful resource for teachers of poetry. Highly recommended for all school libraries.-Tim Gavin, Episcopal Acad., Merion, Pa. Copyright 1994 Cahners Business Information.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

National Book Award winner Oliver ( New and Selected Poems ) delivers with uncommon concision and good sense that paradoxical thing: a prose guide to writing poetry. Her discussion may be of equal interest to poetry readers and beginning or experienced writers. She's neither a romantic nor a mechanic, but someone who has observed poems and their writing closely and who writes with unassuming authority about the work she and others do, interspersing history and analysis with exemplary poems (the poets include James Wright, William Carlos Williams, Elizabeth Bishop, Marianne Moore and Walt Whitman). Divided into short chapters on sound, the line, imagery, tone, received forms and free verse, the book also considers the need for revision (an Oliver poem typically passes through 40 or 50 drafts before it is done) and the pros and cons of writing workshops. And though her prose is wisely spare, a reader also falls gladly on signs of a poet: ``Who knows anyway what it is, that wild, silky part of ourselves without which no poem can live?'' or ``Poems begin in experience, but poems are not in fact experience . . . they exist in order to be poems.'' (July) Copyright 1994 Cahners Business Information.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Offers advice on reading and writing poetry, and discusses imitation, sound, the line, poem forms, free verse, diction, imagery, revision, and workshops

Review by Publisher Summary 2

“Mary Oliver would probably never admit to anything so grandiose as an effort to connect the conscious mind and the heart (that’s what she says poetry can do), but that is exactly what she accomplishes in this stunning little handbook.”—Los Angeles Times From the beloved and acclaimed poet, an ultimate guide to writing and understanding poetry. With passion and wit, Mary Oliver skillfully imparts expertise from her long, celebrated career as a disguised poet. She walks readers through exactly how a poem is built, from meter and rhyme, to form and diction, to sound and sense, drawing on poems by Robert Frost, Elizabeth Bishop, and others. This handbook is an invaluable glimpse into Oliver’s prolific mind—a must-have for all poetry-lovers.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

“Mary Oliver would probably never admit to anything so grandiose as an effort to connect the conscious mind and the heart (that’s what she says poetry can do), but that is exactly what she accomplishes in this stunning little handbook.” ??—?? Los Angeles Times From the beloved and acclaimed poet, an ultimate guide to writing and understanding poetry. With passion and wit, Mary Oliver skillfully imparts expertise from her long, celebrated career as a disguised poet. She walks readers through exactly how a poem is built, from meter and rhyme, to form and diction, to sound and sense, drawing on poems by Robert Frost, Elizabeth Bishop, and others. This handbook is an invaluable glimpse into Oliver’s prolific mind??—??a must-have for all poetry-lovers.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

“Mary Oliver would probably never admit to anything so grandiose as an effort to connect the conscious mind and the heart (that’s what she says poetry can do), but that is exactly what she accomplishes in this stunning little handbook.” ??—?? Los Angeles Times From the beloved, legendary poet, the ultimate guide to writing and understanding poetry.