A Primer for Poets and Readers of Poetry

Gregory Orr (Author, University of Virginia)


An innovative and accessible guide to poetry-writing by an award-winning poet and beloved professor of poetry.

A Primer for Poets and Readers of Poetry guides the young poet toward a deeper understanding of how poetry can function in his or her life, while also introducing the art in an exciting new way. Using such poems as Theodore Roethke’s "My Papa’s Waltz" and Robert Hayden’s "Those Winter Sundays," the Primer encourages young writers to approach their "thresholds"—those places where disorder meets order, where shaping imagination can turn language into urgent and persuasive poems. It provides the poet with more than a dozen focused writing exercises and explains essential topics such as the personal and cultural threshold; the four forces that animate poetic language (naming, singing, saying, imagining); tactics of revision; ecstasy and engagement as motives for poetry; and how to locate and learn from our personal poetic forebears.

Book Details

  • Paperback
  • February 2018
  • ISBN 978-0-393-25392-4
  • 5.5 × 8.3 in / 336 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide

Endorsements & Reviews

“[Orr] present[s] luminous ideas that may help novices and teachers alike. . . . [He] serves as a sage and gentle guide, sharing wisdom about the creative process and how poetry can enrich those who embrace it. . . . [A Primer for Poets and Readers of Poetry] is revolutionary . . . because it shows readers how to turn an occasional, burning impulse into a lifelong pleasure.” — Elizabeth Lund, Washington Post

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