the Pleasures of Writing Poetry

Today I’m reading The Poet’s Companion: A Guide to the Pleasures of Writing Poetry by Kim Addonizio and Dorianne Laux. I like it a lot. I really haven’t read many books on writing, but (contrary to a lot of readers & writers) I enjoy much of what I read in this genre.

“Every good poem asks a question, and every good poet asks every question.”

– The Poet’s Companion

Rune Johansen Hus og fjell i Lofoten 2007, C-print, 90 x 94 cm

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For a period I worked very seriously with Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, which I found to be both helpful and inspiring. I also very much enjoyed Richard Hugo’s The Triggering Town: Lectures and Essays on Poetry and Writing

So far (a limited experience must here be taken into consideration) my absolute favourite books on writing are two gems by Annie Dillard called: The Writing Life & Living by Fiction.

Unlike the two mentioned “Dillards”, The Poet’s Companion is more of a workbook, handing out direct advises and exercises to the reader. I haven’t taken on any assignments yet, but still find the text very instructive.

“To write without any awareness of a tradition you are trying to become a part of would be self-defeating. Every artist alive responds to the history of his or her art—borrowing, stealing, rebelling against, and building on what other artists have done.”

– The Poet’s Companion

Some readers say things like:

Honestly – if you need to be told WHAT to write about and HOW to do it, you should not be writing poetry …

I don’t agree.

I think that – especially if you have a talent – it’s important to practice. And for all those of us not having had the possibility to attain creative writing courses, writing guides & instructions might just be what we need to keep on exercising, to develop our gift more fully.

“Writing and reading are the only ways to find your voice. It won’t magically burst forth in your poems the next time you sit down to write, or the next; but little by little, as you become aware of more choices and begin to make them — consciously and unconsciously — your style will develop.”

– The Poet’s Companion

If you like The Poet’s Companion, you might also want to have a look at Ordinary Genius by Kim Addonizio


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