cover image On Becoming a Poet: 25 Original Essays + Interviews

On Becoming a Poet: 25 Original Essays + Interviews

Edited by Susan Terris. Marsh Hawk, $21.95 trade paper (168p) ISBN 978-1-73261-413-0

“While modern creative writing programs seek to develop the talents of maturing writers, essential information about the... craft can be discovered in the early memories of established writers,” posits Terris (Memos) in this solid anthology on being a poet. Twenty-five contributors lay out how they were brought to the form: David Lehman recounts in “Opening Shot” his experience reading “Song of Myself” in high school, while Basil King reveals in “The Past Is as Present as I Want the Future to Be” that “if as a young man a gallery or galleries had been interested in showing my paintings, I would have had no time to think about writing.” Philip Lopate keeps it short and sweet in “Poetic Influence: John Keats’ ‘When I Have Fears,’ ” in which he writes, “When I read this poem the first time, I was an adolescent, filled with doubts.” The essays are heartfelt, surprising, and show there’s no one path to becoming a writer: Mary Mackey, for example, argues in “Fevers and Jungles” that “the thing that did more than anything else to make me into a poet, was fever. But first it almost killed me.” Aspiring poets will find a rich vein of insight in these thoughtful pieces. (June)