One of the great things about living in Tucson is the Poetry Center. It is a fantastic library and performance space with more poetry books than I could read in my lifetime.
Each year the center has a reading series, where notable poets are invited to come to read. Most of the readings occur on Thursday evenings and usually there is a 200+ audience, something rare for poets.
On the Tuesday before the Thursday reading the Poetry Center has a fireside chat, where someone talks about the up-coming poet and we share a few of the poet’s poems before the reading. History and background are included.
Last night, I was fortunate to attend the sharing led by Lisa O’Neill (a University of Arizona professor) on MAGGIE NELSON’s poetry.
One take-away I got from the sharing was that Maggie Nelson works very hard at having her “form” match the message, or the information she presents. This may sound simple enough on the face of it, but for me it meant that poets really need to expose themselves to all the forms of poetry in order to be able to embrace the form that the words want to be.
In a recent interview with J. Patrick Lewis, former children’s poet laureate, he recommended his bible to aspiring children’s poets. “Shapes of Our Singing,” by Robin Skelton. I turn to my book shelves and look at all the titles I have that list forms of poetry.
I’ll include some of them here later. But in the meantime, what books do you use to familiarize yourself with all the vast variety of poetic forms?


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