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A Poetry Handbook by Mary Oliver #BookReview

By Joyweesemoll @joyweesemoll

Book: A Poetry Handbook: A Prose Guide to Understanding and Writing Poetry by Mary Oliver
Genre: Writing
Publisher: A Harvest Original
Publication date: 1994
Pages: 130

Source: Library

A Poetry Handbook by Mary Oliver


My way of celebrating National Poetry Month

Summary: A gentle teaching text with definitions, structures, and encouragement to read and write poems. From the introduction of A Poetry Handbook by Mary Oliver:

This book is about the things that can be learned. It is about matters of craft, primarily. It is about the part of the poem that is a written document, as opposed to a mystical document, which of course the poem is also. p. 1

Thoughts: That summary makes A Poetry Handbook sound dry, but it isn’t. Mary Oliver writes with the imagery that you would expect from a poet and humor, that you might not expect. As a librarian, I loved that we not only got words to describe sounds but the story about where she found those words (a textbook from 1860).

To talk about poems, one needs a vocabulary and A Poetry Handbook means to provide that. The book provided me with three Wondrous Words Wednesday posts during National Poetry Month:

Like most people, I suppose, I mostly ignore poetry. Except during April, when I still mostly ignore poetry but also feel guilty about it. Reading A Poetry Handbook was a delightful way to honor the month, and poetry, without feeling like I ventured into an arena that was too far-out to be fun for me.

Appeal: A Poetry Handbook is a foundational book for anyone who reads or writes poetry. But, I think, anyone who writes will find this book helpful. It most reminded me of Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose, with beautiful writing that expresses a gentle, enthusiastic tone.

Challenges: A Poetry Handbook is my 8th book for the Nonfiction Reading Challenge. I intended to read 16-20 books, so I’m doing well on that one.

Have you read this book? What did you think?

Signature of Joy Weese Moll


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