poetry handbook

Poetry is a river; many voices travel in it; poem after poem moves along in the exciting crests and falls of the river waves. None is timeless; each arrives in an historical context; almost everything, in the end, passes. But the desire to make a poem, and the world’s willingness to receive it- indeed the world’s need of it- these never pass.
—  Mary Oliver, A Poetry Handbook
there is no shame in feeling hurt
when he tells you he sees you as a friend. i understand you are in pain
but it will not last forever because
soon you will come across someone
special. your kind of person.
you will be reminded that you are
loved every single day. you will feel weird. you will believe your life is just another perfect dream but you will realize that it is not and that strange feeling is just happiness.
—  ck.writes (on Instagram) // it has been a very long time you have been this happy. you have already forgotten what it feels like.

The party’s descent into the depths began as easily as any other. Clanking in armour, testing each other’s weapon weight and balance, and singing somber tunes:

Down, down, down they went,
hopeful, respectful with heads bent.
The darkness could not swallow them,
- oorae oorae oorae

Every snap and pebble loosed,
twitch, shudder through the darkness peer,
comes ghastly figures felled before,
- oorae oorae oorae

Still they ventured deeper down,
to find that which had slayed their kin,
blood and sweat on nervous brow,
- oorae oorae oorae.

Never were they ever seen,
nor mentioned in an open song,
the books would have no place for them
the temples chant no psalms.

- Oorae oorae oorae - sing somber new
with sword and cane and power great;
in Goven’s Maw, on treasure bent
will find those who beyond, are spent.

- Mo!

PS: artwork from The Dungeon Survival Handbook

anonymous asked:

Hello, I'm an older lady getting back into studying literature for the first time in a long time, and I come on this blog frequently as I admire you greatly. Do you have any tips for analysing poetry- things you look for, a structured way of analysing, or something similar? How long does it usually take you, to analyse one poem? Any resources you could inform me of or just advice from you would be highly regarded. I look forward to watching you grow through this page. Kind regards

Hi! So I typed a very long reply to this when I received it, accidentally closed the window and lost it all, & was too annoyed with myself to type it again! Today is a new day however, so giving it another go.

I’ve found the most helpful thing for me in analysing poetry & learning to probe deeper is reading about how other minds write and think about poetry. This can be in a really academic sense – there are many, many books written about how to understand poetry and I’ve found a couple of them to actually be incredibly enlightening – and also a personal sense, with writers, poets, and journalists chronicling their reactions to and readings of poetry. So here are some book recommendations, with links to pdfs where I can find them (though please do buy if you can – I make them available because I know academic texts are often prohibitively expensive or not available from local libraries, and access is an issue that trumps all others in my opinion). Organised haphazardly from more to less academic:

  • The Poetry Handbook by John Lennard (if nothing else, this one – so good!)
  • How Poetry Works by Phil Roberts
  • The Sounds of Poetry by Robert Pinksy
  • The Norton Anthology of Poetry (obviously too huge to give a full read, but use the index to find relevant bits of info where needed, very useful)
  • How to Read a Poem by Terry Eagleton
  • The Art of Recklessness: Poetry as Assertive Force and Contradiction by Dean Young
  • My Poets by Maureen McLane (this one is also life-changing)
  • The Night Sky: the Poetics of Experience by Ann Lauterbach

There are a few other things I do as well: google specific poems I really don’t understand to find commentary from other readers [Genius is sometimes really good for this], listen to the New Yorker poetry podcast, read the Poetry Daily Poem most mornings, read pieces on the Poetry Foundation website, and look through JStor and Google Scholar for academic articles on the specific poem or poet I happen to be reading. Biography also helps a ton & is so interesting.

I know some people have a complicated system of color-coding, extensive note-taking, and so on when approaching poetry, but to me this is 1. not necessary for someone training their mind to approach poetry in general rather than just a specific poem, 2. time-consuming in a way that’s prohibitive – you can only read so many poems when just reading one takes you forever. i end up just underlining lines i find most important, writing short phrases in the margin, maybe circling a word here & there, an exclamation point when I get really excited. Nothing fancy. I just read and scribble as I go, but not in a way that slows me down.

The New Poetry Handbook
The New Poetry Handbook by Mark Strand 1 If a man understands a poem,
he shall have troubles.

2 If a man lives with a poem,
he shall die lonely.

3 If a man lives with two poems,
he shall be unfaithful to one.

4 If a man conceives of a poem,
he shall have one less child.

5 If a man conceives of two poems,
he shall have two children less.

6 If a man wears a crown on his head as he writes,
he shall be found out.

7 If a man wears no crown on his head as he writes,
he shall deceive no one but himself.

8 If a man gets angry at a poem,
he shall be scorned by men.

9 If a man continues to be angry at a poem,
he shall be scorned by women.

10 If a man publicly denounces poetry,
his shoes will fill with urine.

11 If a man gives up poetry for power,
he shall have lots of power.

12 If a man brags about his poems,
he shall be loved by fools.

13 If a man brags about his poems and loves fools,
he shall write no more.

14 If a man craves attention because of his poems,
he shall be like a jackass in moonlight.

15 If a man writes a poem and praises the poem of a fellow,
he shall have a beautiful mistress.

16 If a man writes a poem and praises the poem of a fellow overly,
he shall drive his mistress away.

17 If a man claims the poem of another,
his heart shall double in size.

18 If a man lets his poems go naked,
he shall fear death.

19 If a man fears death,
he shall be saved by his poems.

20 If a man does not fear death,
he may or may not be saved by his poems.

21 If a man finishes a poem,
he shall bathe in the blank wake of his passion
and be kissed by white paper.