Fletcher shares his belief in poetry on his web page:
"Maybe you've heard before that poetry is magic, and it made you roll your eyes, but I believe it's true. Poetry matters. At the most important moments, when everyone else is silent, poetry rises to speak.
I wrote this book to help you write poems and to give practical ideas for making your poems sound the way you want them to sound. We're not going to smash poems up into the tiniest pieces. This book is about writing poetry, not analyzing it. I want this book to help you have more wonderful. moments in the poetry you write. I want you to feel the power of poetry. it's my hope that through this book you will discover lots of ways to make your poems shine, sing, soar..."
He fills his book with clever examples of poems he has wrestled with, grounded in stories of his family life with children and grandchildren. He also gives examples of poems written and revised by kids and other grown up poets. He says
"The three pillars of poetry are emotion, image, and music."His first three chapters elaborate on that, and the remaining sections of the book unpack the toolbox poets use to refine and revise their work. He closes by sharing ideas about how to "go public" with your poems.
Interspersed with these down to earth lessons are interviews with Kristine O'Connell George, J. Patrick Lewis and Janet Wong. I particularly enjoyed a poem Lewis shared from his then-soon-to-be published book called "Please Bury Me in the Library: Poems About Books and Reading". When asked what sort of writing tasks Lewis does on a regular basis (prewriting/brainstorming, etc.) he says "Communing with nature, keeping a journal, joining writers' workshops - all of these undoubtedly inspire the aspiring. I confess I don't do any of them." Ha!
When asked why she loves to write Janet Wong says "It only takes five minutes to write a good draft of a poem. I can jot down a first draft of a poem and then go and eat a bag of potato chips; come back and spend five minutes writing a second, different draft and go for a swim; write a third draft the next day or the next week, and so on. I write between ten and fifty drafts of most of my poems, and the hardest part is always having to choose the draft - or parts of a draft - I like best." I find that very encouraging!
One of the chapter opening quotes that really grabbed me is the one Fletcher put at the beginning of chapter six, 'Crafting Your Poem':
"The world is full of poets with languid wrenches who don't bother to take the last six turns on their bolts." -X.J. KennedyAh. Back to work now.
What book do you take with you when spring fever pulls you outside?
The Friday Poetry roundup is at Two Writing Teachers. Enjoy!