Poems for the Writings: Prompts for Poets
edited by Valerie Fox and Lynn Levin
2013, 154 pages, 6 x 9
Illustrations by Don Riggs
BISAC: Language Arts & Disciplines / Composition & Creative Writing
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Visit the blog on www.poemsforthewriting.com
Read Shinelle Espaillat’s review on Cleaver Magazine.
Valerie Fox and Lynn Levin’s Poems for the Writing: Prompts for Poets offers fourteen classroom- and workshop-tested writing prompts that will appeal to both beginning and experienced poets. The book lends itself to academic courses as well as poetry workshops in less formal settings, such as adult-ed, community-based, and “coffee-shop” classes. Individuals will find the book to bea helpful companion to their independent practice of poetry. In addition to the prompts, scores of poems are included to demonstrate possible responses and interpretations of them.
Contributors include Marie Kane, Katherine A. Hogan, Kevin Hughes, Miriam N. Kotzin, John Vick, Susan Smith Nash, Arlene Ang, Lewis Warsh, Cynthia Branigan, Christopher Bursk, Chris Cunningham, Emily Dickinson, M. Eaton, Jim Ellis, Daniela Elza, Robert Fabianski, Valerie Fox, Lynn Levin, Lauren Hall, Luray Gross, Peter Wood, Joanna Fuhrman, Christine Hamm, Rina Terry, Marshall Warfield, Laurel Hostek, Kelly McQuain, Don Riggs Leonard Gontarek, Corie Feiner, John Timpane, Dawn Manning, Hayden Saunier, Aimee LaBrie, Harriet Levin, Alina Macneal, Erin McCourt, Eric Muth, Joe Nguyen, Mirna Norales, William Shakespeare, Anna Strong, and Heather H. Thomas. Don Riggs contributes witty illustrations.
Praise for Poems for the Writing: Prompts for Poets
“Fox and Levin’s Poems for the Writing: Prompts for Poets is a wake-up call to action for poets of any persuasion or skill level. Brimming with fresh ideas, clear methods, and inspiring examples, the authors have created a classroom-tested cornucopia of poetry prompts, supplemented by useful prompts from accomplished poets. From the math-pattern-inspired ‘Fibonacci Poem’ to the ‘Paraclausithyron,’ a form excavated from the ancients, Poems for the Writing excites the mind and sparks the hand to move across the page. Rather than the same old writing bromides, this book advocates that you ‘Write What You (Don’t) Know.’ Sure to refresh your writing and teaching practice.”
—Heather H. Thomas, Professor of English, Kutztown University, author of Resurrection Papers
“Using canny procedural approaches, Fox and Levin provide a genial and generous prompt-book for anyone wishing to write poems that are contemporary in their flavor but often traditionally inspired. And the sample poems, written with the book's prompts in mind, are delightful instructional manuals in their own right.”
—Gregory Djanikian, Director of Creative Writing, University of Pennsylvania, author of So I Will Till the Ground
“Here’s a prompt book written for all of us—instructors and poets alike. With a rich range of ideas for form (the easy ‘Cameo Cinquain,’ the oh-so-mathematical ‘Fibonacci Poem’) and content (the ‘Rules Poem,’ the ‘I-Hate’ poem, the ‘Fake Translation Exercise’) and lots of unexpected surprises in between, this book is valuable even for those of us who have tried similar resources. Perhaps its greatest strength is the clarity of the prompts themselves, written in strong and concise prose, each an irresistible invitation to craft a new poem. Particularly helpful for the busy classroom instructor is the number and range of sample poems. I can’t wait to start using this resource, at once accessible and sophisticated, at our literary arts center.”
—Kathleen Sheeder Bonanno, Executive Director, Musehouse: A Center for the Literary Arts, author of Slamming Open the Door
“Fox and Levin’s Poems for Writing is a delightful combination of poetry prompts, poems and line drawings (by poet-artist Don Riggs) that will prove valuable for those who teach—and write—poetry. One of my favorite chapters is called ‘Paraclausithyron.’ The chapter begins, ‘At one time or another, you may have had the unpleasant situation of being shut out of something: a business meeting, a party, a conversation, or your sweetheart’s apartment or bedroom.’ Tapping into this universal experience, the chapter offers us an insight and resolution: ‘There’s a poem for that: the paraclausithyron.’ After explaining the classical convention of poetry written at/to a beloved's closed door, the authors invite writers to ‘Write your own lament before a shut door.’ What fun; what a great way to invite writers to use their words to open closed doors—or at least, to redesign the door that blocks them. This book offers prompts that work and poems that sing.”
—Karen Nulton (Amazon.com)
“Poems for Writing is a refreshing spin on the standard writing textbook. Fox and Levin deviate from the basic, entry-level instructions (i.e. ‘write a blue poem,’ ‘write a body poem’) by offering a taste of old world poetic romanticism (‘write a paraclausithyron’) and an explanation as to how attempting each prompt will help you to grow as a poet. What’s lovely about the prompts is that they can ease a writer into formalism while encouraging her to play and experiment with form. Many of the prompts can be adapted, or used as-is, to function in the standard Composition 101 classroom as a creative exercise in clarity and conciseness. For example, have students use the Cameo Cinquain to summarize a text. I am excited to try the prompts with my students (and by myself).
“It’s also fun to just get lost in the sample poems, particularly Levin’s pitch-perfect ‘Janice,’ the aching sweetness of Riggs’ ‘The last time we danced to the Beatles,’ LaBrie’s honest and reflective ‘The Daily Muse Columnist,’ Feiner’s multi-layered ‘Fear of Driving,’ and Fox’s whimsically poignant ‘Essay on Making Art out of Unanswerable Letters.’ This book combines the necessary instruction of a textbook with the joy of a new book of poems, and yields both tools and impetus for the creation of art.”
Valerie Fox’s books of poetry include The Rorschach Factory (2006, Straw Gate Books) and The Glass Book (2010, Texture Press). Bundles of Letters Including A, V and Epsilon (2011, Texture Press) is a collaborative book with Arlene Ang. Her work has appeared in many journals, including Hanging Loose, Apiary, West Branch, Sentence, and Qarrtsiluni. Originally from central Pennsylvania, she has travelled and lived throughout the world, and has taught writing and literature at numerous universities including Sophia University (in Tokyo) and currently at Drexel University (in Philadelphia).
Lynn Levin is the author of the poetry collections Miss Plastique (Ragged Sky Press); Fair Creatures of an Hour (Loonfeather Press), a Next Generation Indie Book Awards finalist in poetry; and Imaginarium (Loonfeather Press), a finalist for ForeWord Magazine’s Book of the Year Award. A literary translator, she translates the work of Peruvian poet Odi Gonzales. She teaches at Drexel University and the University of Pennsylvania.