The Poetry Home Repair ManualI’ll be teaching poetry writing for the first time in the fall, so I need to consider what I’ll ask the students to read. Beyond a collection of poetry, I wanted a kind of textbook, but not a textbook, if you know what I mean. I’m thinking about Ted Kooser’s Poetry Home Repair Manual. It comes recommended by a colleague of mine who has used it in her poetry writing class before. It seems pretty accessible, which makes sense, given Kooser’s belief that poetry need not be for only the literati, but rather that it communicates something for all people. I’ll let you know what I think as I read through the book and post some updates here. It looks pretty good–for beginning poetry writers (and me) anyway.

Update 7/1/09:
I finished reading Kooser’s book a while back and am just now getting to update this post. (Been traveling and rather busy.) I really enjoyed the book and am glad that I’ve selected it for my poetry course in the fall. Kooser has a way of making poetry feel like it’s within everyone’s reach–and not reserved for the likes of English teachers and the literati. I’m confident that my students will respond well to the text. I also like that it is not a traditional text book, as it were, and seems far from such school-like books. It is irreverent in places, funny and lighthearted, and yet filled with insight on the craft–it is Kooser afterall. He writes poetry and writes about poetry in a manner true to his statement that it is communication, that it should effect people’s lives and not pass over their heads or scare them off. This little tiny book has breadth enough for an introductory poetry course with topics ranging from the craft to the business of being a working poet. Kooser offers no delusional hopes to beginning poets about fame or fortune, and yet he does not fail to inspire. The joy or reading and writing poetry, he reminds us, is truly for its own sake. There’s no other reason that can sustain one in its pursuit.