5 Books to Help You Write Better Poetry


Whether you’re new to poetry or an experienced writer, there are always more tips, forms, and techniques to learn as well as room to develop your style.

Exploring different perspectives and opening yourself up to new ideas through poetry writing books is a great way to become a better writer.

Here are 5 books to help you write better poetry:

1. The Making of a Poem

In order to write better poems, knowing how to read other poets work can be important.The Making of a Poem: A Norton Anthology of Poetic Forms  is “among the best how-to-read-poetry titles.”

Each chapter explores a particular form-“the sonnet, the ballad, the sestina, the villanelle, blank verse, the stanza–as well as a long section devoted to what they somewhat vaguely call shaping forms.”

2. A Poetry Handbook


In A Poetry Handbook: A Prose Guide to Understanding and Writing Poetry, “celebrated poet” Mary Oliver (winner of both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award for poetry) takes readers through sound, line (length, meter, breaks), poetic forms (and lack thereof), tone, imagery, and revision with “passion, wit, and good common sense.”

3. Singing School

If all how-to-write books seem the same to you, try Robert Pinsky’s Singing School: Learning to Write (and Read) by Studying with the Masters for something different.

“Quick, joyful, and playfully astringent, with surprising comparisons and examples, this collection takes an unconventional approach to the art of poetry. Instead of rules, theories, or recipes, Singing School emphasizes ways to learn from great work: studying magnificent, monumentally enduring poems and how they are made.”

4. Poetry For Dummies

Do you want to keep it simple while improving your poetry? Or are you just starting out and need basic poetry information broken down and explained plainly? Try Poetry For Dummies.

Poetry For Dummies is a great guide to reading and writing poems, not only for beginners, but for anyone interested in verse.  … It arms you with the tools you need to understand and appreciate poetry in all its forms, and to explore your own talent as a poet.”

It cover a range of topics including:

  • Understand poetic language and forms
  • Interpret poems
  • Get a handle on poetry through the ages
  • Find poetry readings near you
  • Write your own poems
  • Shop your work around to publishers
  • Understanding subject, tone, narrative; and poetic language
  • Mastering the three steps to interpretation
  • Facing the challenges of older poetry
  • Exploring 5,000 years of verse, from Mesopotamia to the global village
  • Writing open-form poetry
  • Working with traditional forms of verse
  • Writing exercises for aspiring poets
  • Getting published

5. The Discovery of Poetry

From the bestselling author of Under the Tuscan Sun, Frances Mayes, who is also the writer of five books of poetry and has taught creative writing for more than twenty-five years, The Discovery of Poetry: A Field Guide to Reading and Writing Poems covers the terminology and techniques, from texture and sound to rhyme and repetition as well as how “focusing on one aspect of a poem can help you to better understand, appreciate, and enjoy the reading and writing experience.”

It is a “invaluable guide to what Mayes calls ‘the natural pleasures of language-a happiness we were born to have.'”


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