The Practice of Poetry Summary & Study Guide

Robin Behn
This Study Guide consists of approximately 39 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Practice of Poetry.
This section contains 520 words
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The Practice of Poetry Summary & Study Guide Description

The Practice of Poetry Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion and a Free Quiz on The Practice of Poetry by Robin Behn.

The Practice of Poetry is a collection of over 90 favorite writing exercises from writing teachers and poets. The book explores a variety of techniques and strategies for writing poetry appropriate for students in a class or on their own, or for more experienced writers. It is also a hands-on "how to" manual which will guide beginners and the inexperienced and also serve as a resource for poets and teachers of poetry. There is a lot of variety in the exercises, and many of them are entertaining as well. Some sections start students off with a small list of words to get started and require very little actual writing. Others demand that students become very familiar with a particular poet's body of work and to write deliberately imitative poems as practice. Some exercises will work best with a group while others require significant individual study.

The contributors range from the well-known to the obscure. Students will recognize some names, such as Rita Dove. Readers who are familiar with poetry might recognize names such as Maxine Kumin, Dana Gioia and Donald Justice.

Editors Behn and Twitchell state that poetry takes practice and work in addition to inspiration. Practice gives the writer the tools he or she needs in order to write and practice also leads to inspiration. To provide these tools to readers and to encourage creativity and exploration, the editors have organized the writing exercises into seven parts. The categories are not arranged in order of skill since virtually any exercise can be used by writers of any level experience. Each part begins immediately with an exercise and without an introduction.

These exercises provide nearly guaranteed poetry success. Many exercises provide beginners with a step-by-step process that will result in a poem, and result in one that will probably surprise them. The book provides many "ah-ha!" moments before, during, and after writing poems.

"Part 1 Ladders to the Dark" is subtitled "The Unconscious as Gold Mine". Eleven exercises help students discover and harness the subconscious. "Part 2 The Things of This World" provides exercises in discovering and using the senses and imagery. "Part 3 Who's Talking and Why?" is divided into two parts. "Part A, Aspects of Voice", provides eight exercises, some of which help the writer take on another persona while writing a poem instead of simply charting the feelings of the individual writer. "Part B, What's it About?" suggests ways to arrive at the poem's topic. "Part 4 Truth in Strangeness", has eleven exercises that deliberately mix up an individual's sense of the rational, such as writing a poem by "transcribing" a foreign language poem into English or by using random words. These techniques can lead to poetic insights. "Part 5 Laws of the Wild", helps writers to structure and shape their poems. "Part 6 Musical Matters," tackles the subject of rhyme and rhythm. The last section is titled "Major and Minor Surgery: On Revision and Writer's Block." The first section has exercises in getting started or fixing a problem poem. The second part, "Reflections," is made up of essays by poets on the struggle of writing, crafting, and creating poetry.

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