Reviewed by Stephen Page
As I am browsing around a bookstore, I pick up Mary Oliver’s A Poetry Handbook, because another writer recommended the book to me. It is simplistically written. It is geared for high-school or freshmen-college students (but, I am sure that is Oliver’s intent). The first couple of chapters are short and low-attention spanning, but by chapter 7 they expand and deepen. There are some important points made in the book, even in the first six chapters:
Everyone knows that poets are born and not made in school. This is also true of painters, sculptors, musicians., something that is essential can’t be taught; it can only be given, or earned, or formulated in a manner too mysterious . . . still, painters, sculptors (poets) and musicians require a lively acquaintance with the history of their particular field and with past as well as current theories and techniques. Whatever can’t be taught, and there is a great deal that can, and must, be learned . . . This book is about the things that can be learned. It is about matters of craft . . . this book is written in an effort to give the student a variety of technical skills.
The book is written with the idea of teaching basic poetic skills, philosophies, and exercises, so it’s a great book for novice writers, or for teachers of novice writers.
You can find the book here: https://www.amazon.com/Poetry-Handbook-Mary-Oliver/dp/0156724006/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8
Stephen Page is the author of “A Ranch Bordering the Salt River.”. He can be found at