Reviewed by Gwen Hart
Add poetry reading and writing to your summer easily with Tania Runyan's How to Write a Poem (T.S. Poetry Press). Runyan's accessible guide uses the stanzas from Billy Collin's popular poem "Introduction to Poetry" as a framework for introducing the key components of poetry: imagery, sound, line breaks, discovery, mystery, and revision. This is a fresh, fun approach for aspiring poets.
As the title suggests, this book focuses on writing poetry--with good examples from a variety of poets along the way. You may find yourself googling a few of these names to read more of their work--a great way to discover a new favorite poet!
Runyan's chapters are bite-sized (around seven pages each), perfect for busy people who want to add a little poetry to their lives. Each chapter contains a "Try It Out" exercise that allows you to apply what you've learned in the chapter to concrete examples (e.g., turning flat travel brochure language--an extravaganza of natural wonders!--into engaging imagery). Runyan ends each chapter with a "Your Turn" poetry prompt to inspire you to create your own poems.
In one of the most effective aspects of the book, Runyan takes readers through multiple drafts of her poem "Loch Ness Sculpture, Wyoming." Watching Runyan's poem evolve across the chapters shows how important each element of poetry is to a final draft.
The book concludes with a mini anthology of twenty-five poems, each with an accompanying prompt. The poems are divided into categories that compliment the earlier chapters. The anthology also illustrates by example how you can take a poem you love and turn it into a prompt to inspire your own poem.
If there is a downside to this book, it is that it cannot cover some of the more intricate aspects of poetry--but that is not its purpose. Runyan provides a solid foundation here that poets can build on, a jumping-off point perfect for the summer poetry explorer.