Master the Craft of Poetry: Essential Books for Every Poet's Shelf

Whether you're a seasoned poet looking to refine your skills or a beginner taking your first steps into the world of poetry, these are my favorite poetry craft book recommendations. Each of these craft books shaped my own writing and relationship to poetry and I cannot recommend them enough. From practical guides to philosophical musings on the art of writing, these poetry craft books offer invaluable insights and inspiration.

Poetry craft books for beginner poets


The Triggering Town: Lectures and Essays on Poetry and Writing
by Richard Hugo
Uncover the secrets of poetry with this timeless classic. Part memoir, part poetic theory, it offers profound insights into the art of writing, making it essential reading for poets of all levels.

Madness, Rack, and Honey: Collected Lectures
by Mary Ruefle
Very lyrical and heady, this entire books reads much like a poem itself. Less tactile and more philosophical, these essays offer a fresh perspective on the craft of writing. It's also just a gorgeous book.

The Poet's Companion: A Guide to the Pleasures of Writing Poetry
by Kim Addonizio and Dorianne Laux
Explore the art of writing poetry with this comprehensive companion. Filled with prompts and practical advice, it encourages poets of all levels to embrace creativity and self-discovery in their writing journey. Amazing for beginners who want to write about their life.

The Strategic Poet: Honing the Craft
Delve into the minds and writings of contemporary poets with this insightful resource. Craft-focused and highly inspiring, it offers valuable insights into the art and practice of poetry. A must read for any poet who want to publish their work in literary journals. 

Structure & Surprise: Engaging Poetic Turns
Unlock the secrets of poetic structure with this insightful guide. Perfect for advanced poets, it offers a fresh perspective on crafting captivating poems. 

Ordering the Storm: How to Put Together a Book of Poems
Perfect for experienced poets curious about crafting a cohesive collection. This essays from contemporary poets are truly eye opening.

Poetic Closure: A Study of How Poems End
by Barbara Herrnstein Smith
Delve into the art of poetic closure. A very practical and craft-forward book that works hard to demystify poetry writing. Despite its publication in the 1960s, its techniques and observations remain relevant.

Ordinary Genius: A Guide for the Poet Within
by Kim Addonizio
Perfect for beginners, it combines practical prompts with lessons on embracing creativity and artistic impulses. I love gifting this book to friends who are curious about writing poems. 

The Sounds of Poetry: A Brief Guide
by Robert Pinsky
Explore the beauty of poetry with a focus on sound and rhythm. Ideal for modern poets, this brief yet compelling guide offers valuable insights into crafting resonant verse.

In the Palm of Your Hand, Second Edition: A Poet's Portable Workshop
by Steve Kowit
Perfect for writers of all levels, it explores the nuances of narrative poetry and offers practical advice on crafting poetry that speaks to the heart. Wonderful for writers who want to write poems about their life and memories while still honoring craft.

The Poetry Home Repair Manual: Practical Advice for Beginning Poets
by Ted Kooser
A very encouraging guide and one I tend to gift to people who don't think of themselves as poets. This book does a great job of redefining who a poet is and allowing the "everyday" person to embrace a writing practice. Plenty of useful craft advice in here!


how to write poetry craft books


The Art of the Poetic Line
by James Longenbach
Master the art of line breaks, punctuation, and more with this essential guide. Perfect for poets of all levels, it offers practical advice on crafting impactful verse.

The Art of Syntax: Rhythm of Thought, Rhythm of Song
by Ellen Bryant Voigt
Great for beginner or an advanced poet, who is interested in writing strong, fascinating poems.

The Prosody Handbook: A Guide to Poetic Form
by Robert Beum and Karl Shapiro
Navigate the complexities of poetic form with this ultimate guide to prosody. Perfect for poets seeking to enhance their understanding of acoustic and rhythmic effects.

The Making of a Poem
Delve into the history of traditional Western poetry with this classic guide. Filled with explanations on various poetic forms, it offers a comprehensive introduction to poetry.

Poetic Designs: An Introduction to Meters, Verse Forms, and Figures of Speech
by Stephen Adams
Master the craft of composing poetry with this practical guide. Ideal for beginners, it offers valuable tactics for crafting impactful poems.

how to get started writing poetry books

Whether you're seeking practical advice, philosophical insights, or technical guidance, each poetry craft book on this list offers a unique perspective to help you grow as a poet. You can view all of these books on

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