Happy "W is for Weekend"! Hope you're having a good one. It's dark and cloudy in Albuquerque this afternoon, just the right weather for today's keeper book: Writing Poetry from the Inside Out, Finding Your Voice Through the Craft of Poetry, by Sandford Lyne.
This particular book is so important to me I've written my name on the inside cover, just like I did in the fifth-grade with Little Women and The Wizard of Oz: My Book, Hands Off! I carry it with me to all sorts of important places like the library for some quiet writing practice; my writer's group for more writing practice and group exercise; for inspiration when I'm waiting in the Lowe's parking lot while my husband shops for gizmos. As Lyne states in the preface, ". . . poetry writing is the most portable of the arts . . ." It's true--all you need is a pen and a notebook, pencil if you prefer.
Here are my three favorite things about the book:
- I love the way Lyne refers to a writer's journal/sketchbook/notebook as the writer's "studio." Choosing just the right size, paper, binding, and weight of your book goes a long way to feeling comfortable with it, making you want to write more often, or as Lyne calls it, trying your hand at some "poem sketching." The simple act of opening your notebook can become a touchstone, transforming wherever you are to writing space, helping you to block out noise and other distractions. So choose well!
- There's a lot more than poetry "form and function" here. Yes, there's lots of "how to" instruction on "how to write a poem" throughout the text, but this is also a book about how to reach that deep and sacred part of you that wants to express itself through the written word. In many ways, this is secretly a book about how to live, and live well.
- Word clusters. There are about 30 pages of word clusters at the back of the book, divided into groups of four. For example: barefoot, evening, shadows, king. Or: wall, ancient, dawn, dusk. These have been provided as writing prompts (which makes this such a great book for writer's groups). I've used these clusters in all kinds of ways: singly, as the given set, or taking words from across the pages to make new combinations. I've also used them for more than poetry, too, e.g., essays and fiction. And if you manage to work your way through every set, you can always start adding some fresh words of your own to the mix, cutting out words from magazines, or going through the dictionary for fresh and unusual ideas.
They almost make a poem on their own! Have fun, and I'll be back on Monday. (Yay for free Sundays!)