Today I finished reading Sheila Bender's Writing Perosnal Poetry. I've had this book for a while and decided to read it because someone was going to read along with me. As it turns out, they didn't have a copy and without a copy they couldn't actually read along which left me to read it through on my own.
Full of examples ranging from rough drafts to polished poems, from writers published and beginners just exploring poetry for the first time, this book is a wonderful introduction to writing poetry. There is just enough meat in the text to keep it from being complete fluff. I confess, I didn't do the exercises, mostly because I already do most of them when writing poetry. It wasn't until chapter six that this book took off for me and then it just settled back down again. In other words, chapter six was the most useful chapter for me. But I would definitely recommend this book to other people who are interested in writing poetry. You won't be overwhelmed with technical terminology. Do you need to know what an assonance is to write a poem? No. Do you have to be able to tell the difference between the various types of sonnet and write each type correctly, iambic pentameter, end rhymes, and all? No. But you can and will learn how to write effective free verse poems in your own voice from your own experiences and that is more than many people can say or do!
Although the book concludes with resources which include how to get published, I cannot say that a writer new to poetry who had only worked through this book is likely to be published. You may not need to know what assonance is to write poetry but if you know how to use it, if you know how to write in iambic pentameter and when it is best to break the rules, then you can and will be published. This book does not cover the rules. Bender does include, however, some great reading recommendations so anyone who is serious about taking their poetry further, perhaps seeing their work in print, can certainly use her recommendations as a way to build a solid collection of books on writing poetry.
So for the writer new to poetry or the one who wants to write poetry on a more personal level, I strongly recommend this book. It is a good start and a good resource.