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POETRY MATTERS by Ralph Fletcher


Writing a Poem from the Inside Out

by Ralph Fletcher

Pub Date: March 1st, 2002
ISBN: 0-380-79703-8
Publisher: HarperCollins

In this pep talk for aspiring poets, Fletcher (Have You Been to the Beach Lately, 2001, etc.) speaks directly to his readers in a chatty, non-threatening manner, as if he were a guest lecturer in their classrooms or homes and he reminds his audience that poetry must be an honest expression of the heart and soul. In the first of two parts, he focuses on what he calls “the guts” of poetry: “emotion, image, and music.” He explains the key role that each of these elements plays in the creative process and he also tackles the tricky problem of selecting a subject. The second part involves the nuts and bolts of crafting a poem. Throughout, he cites extensively from his own work, as well as those by other published writers and students. Also included are several interviews with poets who are asked about their inspirations, methods of writing, and advice to young poets. There is a lot of information to digest and understand, and it is not always presented clearly; ideas are thrown at the reader in rapid succession with hardly a breath in between. Each idea is ostensibly illustrated by a poem, but in too many cases neither the idea nor the poem is adequately explained before the next one comes along. Fletcher is obviously passionate about his subject. However, he might do well to follow the warning he gives to young poets: “beware of going on and on and draining the energy.” Someone already intrigued with the idea of writing poetry might find just the right hints and tools here to spark that first successful poem. Anyone else will be overwhelmed and confused. (Nonfiction. 10-12)