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Check out this poetry class in a book

I’ve always loved poetry. But it wasn’t until I studied for my MFA that I really began to delve into the craft of writing it after one of my advisors gave me the assignment to annotate poetry. By directing me to study poetry, she knew I would understand the power of words in a new way.

While poetry wasn’t my main focus, that taste of learning about it at a deeper level spurred me to continue studying on my own. Besides writing and reading poetry, I’ve found several books in which poets discuss their approach to writing.

I’ll share more about what I’m learning in future posts. But for now, if you want to study along with me, check out Poem, Revised: 54 Poems, Revisions, Discussions edited by Robert Hartwell Fiske and Laura Cherry. It’s a behind-the-scenes look at how 54 master poets work and how they went through the process of writing and revising their poems.

In a chapter called “Souvenir,” Jehanne Dubrow describes how she came to write her poem about small carved wooden figurines of Hasidim. Dubrow wrote that, ” When I’m stuck inside the drafting of a poem, I tell myself stories about the poem until I find a solution. In this case, I imagined the secret life of these figurines and visualized what must happen to many of them; they’re bought as inexpensive gifts, carried home, played with, and eventually forgotten.”

I liked this idea of telling myself stories about the people, things, or places of my poems — or for that matter — any story I’m writing. Consider this technique next time you get stuck.

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