Peter Sansom, one of the best contemporary poets (with books including Everything You've Heard Is True, Point of Sale, and Talk Sense), has extensive experience of poetry workshops and courses and has held several placements in schools and colleges. He was writer-in-residence at Doncaster Central library for three years and is a director of The Poetry Business in Huddersfield and co-editor of The North Magazine and Smith/Doorstop Books and Cassettes.
Writing Poems is a ‘little book that does not tell you what or how to write, but helps you say genuinely what you genuinely need to say,’ the writer says
in his introduction.
The book includes ten sections:
Section One deals with "Poetry and the Marketplace," "Submitting Poems to Magazines" and other interesting topics.
Section Two analyzes a poem. There the reader will learn the basics about meter, rhyme and free verse.
"The Spirit of the Age" comes in Section Three, offering the reader a range of literary fashions, while
Section Four, "lmost a Remembrance," displays practical hints on how to create the vivid detail poems need by comparing and contrasting various poems.
“There is plenty to be said about the poems, but I want to draw your attention to their endings,” the writer says. “It is tempting to finish a poem with a flourish , but the bigger the ending the more it has to have been earned by what precedes it.”
Section Five, "Writing Poems," focuses on more detailed elements, such as punctuation, drafting, the disaster poem and others. “I think free verse looks odd with capitals heading the lines,” the writer advises.
Workshop techniques and writing games are included in Section Six, showing the readers how to enhance their writing and give them the motive to keep on writing. Packed with topics and questions to help the new writer create is easy to follow and fun as well:
“FREE WRITING (also called hot-penning). Use as a warm-up and as an exercise in itself. There are three rules:
A detailed approach of meter, rhyme , half-rhyme and free verse is in Section Seven, informing the reader about
"Given" or "Fixed" forms. Section Eight is about "Some Given Forms" -- that is to say, stanzas, sonnet sequences, Haiku and others. In
Section Nine are displayed some poets and poems, while Section Ten, "Where to Go from Here," includes a glossary of technical terms.
At the end of the book there is a bibliography section and then a section with "Some Useful Addresses," such as The Poetry Society, London; Scottish Art Council; and others.
There is also a libraries list, a critical section and a writing courses list.
Once you’ve started you must not stop writing.
You must not think. Let the writing go its own way...
You must not rhyme.”
Sansom’s book is an easy read that offers the reader thorough knowledge on poetry writing. The poet-to-be will find this workshop-style book invaluable and practical, as well. There are numerous examples throughout the book and a lot of information on how to submit to magazines, the small presses and other handy details.
Moreover, the writer includes brief resumes and discussions of literary history and literary fashions, and the creative process itself. On completing this book, the readers can decide for themselves how they want their work to develop, whether that magazine was right in returning it or if they simply don’t know “their poetic arse
from their elbow."
Writing Poems caters to new writers, poetry reviewers, as well as all readers who wish to educate themselves in poetry-related areas. It is an excellent, informative book.