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Saturday, May 4, 2019

Find poems to love in anthologies

Every now and then, poets who are ready to step up their level of poetry-writing ask me to recommend poems they might study and emulate. No, not to mimic someone else’s voice or style, but to discover their own preferences and improve their use of technique.

Art students do this all the time. i.e. They typically study and copy the masters in order to find out what works and why. Then, having discovered a wide assortment of useful tools and techniques, they go on to find their own creative methods of working.

Conversely, I’ve found that many poets give little thought to poetry forms, styles, techniques, tips for revision, or precision in their choices of words. Worse, many poets don’t read poems by other poets, which handicaps them without their knowing it as they have few options except for what comes to mind.

Since we have centuries and centuries of beautifully expressed poetry to draw from, you can find all sorts of anthologies that collect poems around a central theme, subject, or form. Also, The Norton Anthology of Poetry aims to put together as many poems in English as possible.

To give you other anthologies I recommend with poems worth studying and enjoying, here’s a list of ones I’ve reviewed in the order shown:

Villanelles anthology 

As publishers send me new copies of poetry books and anthologies to review, I’ll let you know of engaging poems and anthologies I’ve found that connect well with readers - including you and me!

Remember: We're first readers of poetry. Then, Lord willing, we become poets prepared to write poems that other people will want to read.