I remember a time in elementary school when I had to write a poem. I struggled to write 6 lines. Thankfully I don’t remember what I actually wrote but it barely resembled poetry, if it did at all.
As I grew I continued to play with words and gained some knowledge about writing poetry. I gained an appreciation for poetry through many literature courses, and eventually I found myself in a “Creative Writing: Poetry” class. One of the required books was The Poetry Handbook by Mary Oliver.
In this book, Oliver introduces the subject of poetry, explores various poetical techniques, explains metered verse, syllabic verse, and free verse, and even approaches revision and workshopping ideas. Oliver not only explains alliteration, assonance, consonance, enjambment, internal rhyme, slant rhyme, metaphor, and simile but also explains the effect that these different sounds can have.
With short chapters and examples from famous poets, including William Shakespeare and Robert Frost, this book provides essential advice for novice poets.
For me, this book was awesome. I enjoyed reading it, and I now have a foundation understanding of the craft of poetry. Fortunately, with the aid of the class, the idea of poetry no longer terrifies me. Is my stuff amazing? Probably not, but at least I know the different poetic tools that can be used to create sounds and emphasis, and in the end, create a poem.
Any aspiring poet should read this book. It’s short and presents the craft of poetry with clarity.