Review of The Crafty Poet: A Portable Workshop by Diane Lockward         

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Review of The Crafty Poet: A Portable Workshop by Diane Lockward         

Poetry is a source of delight for me, and I’ve always wished I could write poetry, but my attempts in elementary and high school were lame.

A few years ago I tried again, by working through a book I’d originally bought for my daughter Carly who was studying writing poetry in college (and I never gave her the book): poemcrazy: freeing your life with words by Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge. I discovered to my great surprise that I could write decent poetry.the crafty poet

After I finished that book, I found The Crafty Poet, and I happily journeyed further down poetry lane.

Lockward covers 10 poetry concerns in this book, such as generating material, figurative language, adding layers, and revision. Each chapter includes two or three tips for the topic, poems that illustrate the tip, and a prompt for you to try out. Each chapter also includes an interview with a poet about a particular poem, and a bonus prompt. The book generated about 35 poems for me.

I’m not posting a lot of my poems any more, because I’m submitting them for publication, and most journals won’t print poems that have been up on somebody’s blog. However, here are a few poems I wrote from exercises in this book that I’ve already posted:

 

Dogs Would be Better Off if They Were More Like Us Cats

Why do you beg? Have you no dignity?cat and dog anusha-barwa-428445
If the humans forget to feed you, scold.
And when they do feed you, don’t be in such a hurry to eat.
Turn up your nose. Walk away.
Come back later when no one’s around to watch.
Otherwise they think they’re doing you a favor.

And when they tell you to fetch or roll over or shake
Turn up your nose. Walk away.
Why work so hard to earn their approval?
Humans are inscrutable. Always making demands. Ignore them.

Don’t make such a big deal when they come home.
Turn up your nose. Walk away.
Why weren’t they here waiting on you?
Whose special—them or you?

You have to go out in all kinds of weather.
Why don’t you use the litter box?
Outdoors is best viewed from the windowsill.

Mona

All my life I’ve dreamed of402px-Mona_Lisa,_by_Leonardo_da_Vinci,_from_C2RMF_retouched
Passing below the crystal pyramid
And worshipping at the altar of
The woman with the enigmatic smile.
When my moment finally came,
I wedged in shoulder to shoulder among the other pilgrims,
Jostled and hurried.
She was much smaller than I had imagined,
Enshrined in plexiglass.
That’s it?
An anticlimactic end to my years of anticipation and saving.
I retraced my steps and
Examined the broken figures I’d rushed past earlier,
Breathtaking gods and goddesses released from stony prisons.
My eyes caressed these less celebrated masterpieces and
My disappointment melted away.

Cocktail Sauce to Die For

These are your strong points:shrimp-cocktail-1670404_640
You’re loyal.
(You could have replaced me by now;
you certainly had opportunities.)
You still have a nice head of hair.
You know how to fix things.
You can name every major battle and
how many men died on either side.
You can reach things on top shelves.
You make me laugh.
You can cook.
You make the best shrimp cocktail sauce I’ve ever tasted, deliciously sour and with
just enough horseradish to make the top of my brain ache.

I recently came across two more poetry instruction books by Lockward, The Crafty Poet II and The Practicing Poet, which are structured in the same way. I bought them both, and I can’t wait to get started.

If you want to begin writing poetry, or if it’s been awhile and you need a little prodding, I would recommend any of the books mentioned in this article.

About Andrea R Huelsenbeck

Andrea R Huelsenbeck is a wife, a mother of five and a former elementary general music teacher. A freelance writer in the 1990s, her nonfiction articles and book reviews appeared in Raising Arizona Kids, Christian Library Journal, and other publications. She is currently working on a young adult mystical fantasy novel and a mystery.

4 responses »

  1. You are a poet extraordinaire in my eyes, Andrea! I’m glad to hear you’re submitting some of your poetry for publication. Well done!

    Like

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