Books All Poets Need to Read

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are a lot of books on this list, but if you are serious about writing poetry,

I believe these books are essential. These are not books of poems,

but craft books, reference books, and memoirs. They are listed alphabetically

by the authors' last names. If there is a book you thinkshould be on this list,

please let me know.

These Fevered Days: Ten Pivotal Moments in the Making of Emily Dickinson by Martha Ackman

Ordinary Genius by Kim Addonizio

 

Bukowski in a Sundress: Confessions From a Writing Life by Kim Addonizio

 

The Poet’s Companion by Kim Addonizio and Dorianne Laux

 

Other Traditions by John Ashbery

 

Writing Metrical Poetry by William Baer

 

The Practice of Poetry edited by Robin Behn and Chase Twichell

 

My Way: Speeches and Poems by Charles Bernstein

 

Thirteen Ways of Looking for a Poem: A Guide to Writing Poetry by Wendy Bishop

 

Writing Poems by Michelle Boisseau, Hadara Bar-Nadav, Robert Wallace

 

In the Blue Pharmacy: Essays on Poetry and Other Transformations by Marianne Boruch

 

Poems and Their Making: A Conversation edited by Philip Brady

 

In the Chair: Interviews with Poets from the North of Ireland edited by John Brown

 

What Will Suffice: Contemporary American Poets on the Art of Poetry edited by Christopher Buckley and Christopher Merrill

 

Poet’s Guide: How to Publish and Perform Your Work by Michael J. Bugeja

 

The Art and Craft of Poetry by Michael J. Bugeja

 

Conversations with Richard Wilbur edited by William Butts

 

Beside the Shadblow Tree: A Memoir of James Laughlin by Hayden Carruth

 

Reluctantly: Autobiographical Essays by Hayden Carruth

 

Allen Ginsberg, Spontaneous Mind: Selected Interviews 1958-1996 edited by David Carter

Dear Memory: Letters on Writing, Silence, and Grief by Victoria Chang

 

Yusef Komunyakaa, Condition Red: Essays, Interviews, and Commentaries edited by Radiclani  Clytus

 

The Poem's Heartbeat: A Manual of Prosody by Alfred Corn

Three-Martini Afternoons at the Ritz: The Rebellion of Sylvia Plath & Anne Sexton by Gail Crowther

 

When the Rewards Can Be So Great: Essays On Writing and The Writing Life edited by Kwame Dawes

 

Talk Yuh Talk: Interviews with Anglophone Caribbean Poets by Kwame Dawes

 

Writing the Sacred into the Real by Alison Hawthorne Deming

 

The Poetry Dictionary by John Drury

 

Creating Poetry bu John Drury

 

Tradition and the Individual Talent by TS Eliot

 

Open Papers by Odysseas Elytis, translated by Olga Broumas and T. Begley

 

The Body of Poetry: Essays on Women, Form, and the Poetic Self by Annie Finch

 

Poem, Revised: 54 Poems, Revisions, Discussions edited by Robert Hartwell Fiske and Laura Cherry

 

What You Have Heard Is True: A Memoir of Witness and Resistance by Carolyn Forché

The Trials of Phillis Wheatley: America's First Black Poet and Her Encounters with the Founding Father by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

 

How Poems Think by Reginald Gibbons

 

The Dream Of a Broken Field by Diane Glancy

City Poet: The Life and Times of Frank O'Hara by Brad Gooch

Mistress Bradstreet: The Untold Life of America's First Poet by Charlotte Gordon

The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics edited by Roland Greene, Editor-in-Chief

 

Ordering the Storm: How to Put Together a Book of Poems edited by Susan Grimm

 

Shelf Life: Essays, Memoirs, and an Interview by Thom Gunn

 

Death to the Death of Poetry: Essays, Reviews, Notes, Interviews by Donald Hall

 

Crazy Brave by Joy Harjo

Poet Warrior: A Memoir by Joy Harjo

 

Nine Gates: Entering the Mind of Poetry by Jane Hirshfield

 

The Art of Voice by Tony Hoagland

 

Real Sofistikashun: Essays on Poetry and Craft by Tony Hoagland

 

Streams: Life Secrets for Writing Poems and Songs by Sandra Hochman

Aphrodite's Daughters: Three Modernist Poets of the Harlem Renaissance by Maureen Honey

 

The Triggering Town by Richard Hugo

 

The Muse in the Machine: Essays on Poetry and the Anatomy of the Body Politic by T. R.  Hummer

 

Conversations with Rita Dove edited by Earl G. Ingersoll

 

Breaking the Alabaster Jar: Conversations with Li-Young Lee edited by Earl G. Ingersoll

 

Acts of Mind: Conversations with Contemporary Poets by Richard Jackson

 

The Writer’s Process by Anne Janzer

 

The Poet’s Handbook by Judson Jerome

 

Conversations with Sonia Sanchez by Joyce A. Joyce

Walt Whitman: A Life by Justin Kaplan

 

A Poet’s Guide to Poetry by Mary Kinzie

 

The Judge Is Fury: Dislocation and Form In Poetry by Mary Kinzie

 

Proses: On Poems and Poets by Carolyn Kizer

 

Several Short Sentences about Writing by Verlyn Klinkenborg

The Magical Language of Others: A Memoir by E. J. Koh

 

The Poetry Home Repair Manual by Ted Kooser

 

In the Palm of Your Hand by Steve Kowit

 

The Poet's Notebook: Excerpts from the Notebooks of 26 American Poets by Stephen Kuusisto, Deborah Tall, David Weiss

 

Written in Water, Written in Stone: Twenty Years of Poets on Poetry edited by Martin Lammon

The Whiskey of our Discontent: Gwendolyn Brooks as Conscience and Change Agent edited by Quraysh Ali Lansana and Georgia      A. Popoff

 

The Night Sky: Writings on the Poetics of Experience by Ann Lauterbach

 

My Lost Poets: A Life in Poetry by Philip Levine

 

Elizabeth Bishop and Translation by Mariana Machova

 

Brush Up Your Poetry! by Michael Macrone

 

On Poetry by Glyn Maxwell

 

Twenty Questions by J. D. McClatchy

 

Sparks from the Anvil: The Smith College Poetry Interviews edited by Christian McEwen 

 

Broken English: Poetry and Partiality by Heather McHugh

 

By Herself: Women Reclaim Poetry by Molly McQuade

Langston Hughes by W. Jason Miller

 

Conversations with Elizabeth Bishop edited by George Monteiro

 

Good Measure: Essays, Interviews, and Notes on Poetry by Robert Morgan

 

Fooling with Words by Bill Moyers 

 

The Language of Life: A Festival of Poets by Bill Moyers

 

Coming After: Essays on Poetry by Alice Notley

 

Quote Poet Unquote: Contemporary Quotations on Poets and Poetry edited by Dennis O’Driscoll

 

A Poetry Handbook by Mary Oliver

 

Rules for the Dance by Mary Oliver

 

Poets Teaching Poets: Self and the World by Gregory Orr and Ellen Bryant Voigt

 

Some Necessary Angels: Essays on Writing and Politics by Jay Parini

 

How To Be Well-Versed in Poetry edited by E. O. Parrott

 

Radical Artifice: Writing Poetry in the Age of Media by Marjorie Perloff

 

The Sounds of Poetry: A Brief Guide by Robert Pinsky

 

Finding Them Gone: Visiting China's Poets of the Past by Bill Porter

 

Winning the Dust Bowl by Carter Revard

 

Poetry and Commitment by Adrienne Rich

 

Arts of the Possible: Essays and Conversations by Adrienne Rich

 

Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke

 

On Poetry and Craft by Theodore Roethke

 

A Difficult Grace: On Poets, Poetry, and Writing by Michael Ryan

 

Intimate With Walt: Whitmans Conversataions With Horace Traubel edited by Gary Schmidgall

 

The Monster Loves His Labyrinth: Notebooks by Charles Simic

 

Writing the Australian Crawl by William Stafford

 

You Must Revise Your Life by William Stafford

 

Crossing Unmarked Snow: Further Views on the Writer's Vocation by William Stafford

 

The Answers Are Inside the Mountains: Meditations on the Writing Life by William Stafford

 

Getting the Knack: 20 Writing Exercises by William Stafford

 

The Poem Behind the Poem: Translating Asian Poetry edited by Frank Stewart

 

The Poet’s Manual and Rhyming Dictionary by Frances Stillman

 

World's Hieroglyphic Beauty: Five American Poets by Peter Stitt

 

The Making of a Poem by Mark Strand and Eavan Boland

 

Spreading the Word: Poetry and the Survival of Community in America by Ross Talarico

The Ocean, the Bird, and the Scholar: Essays on Poets and Poetry by Helen Vendler

Our Secret Discipline: Yeats and Lyric Form by Helen Vender

The Breaking of Style: Hopkins, Heaney, Graham by Helen Vendler

 

The Art of Syntax: Rhythm of Thought, Rhythm of Song by Ellen Bryant Voigt

 

The Flexible Lyric by Ellen Bryant Voigt

 

From the Notebooks of Theodore Roethke: Straw for the Fire edited by David Wagoner

 

Dissonance (if you are interested) by Rosmarie Waldrop

 

A Million MFAs Are Not Enough edited by Charles Harper Webb

 

This Art: Poems About Poetry edited by Michael Wiegers

 

Making a Poem: Some Thoughts about Poetry and the People Who Write It by Miller Williams

 

I Wanted to Write a Poem: The Autobiography of the Works of a Poet by William Carlos Williams

 

The Rag Picker’s Guide to Poetry: Poems, Poets, Process edited by Eleanor Wilner and Maurice  Manning

 

Ambition and Survival: Becoming a Poet by Christian Wiman

 

Cooling Time: An American Poetry Vigil by C.D. Wright

 

One Big Self: An Investigation by C.D. Wright

 

Further Adventures in Monochrome by John Yau

Notebook and Pen