Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Poetry: Read it and Write It

 While I don't read poetry on a regular basis, I do enjoy the occasional collection, and I'm reading one now for review on my personal blog, The Mad Ramblings of a Joker by Brandon Dillon. I can't say much about the book as I've just started reading a few of the poems, but I'm struck by the honesty of what the author shares. Getting in touch with poetry again reminded me about how often that medium has the power to stir emotion in a way that prose often does not. 

I truly believe that it's good for writers to read poetry, even if it's not your medium of choice. We learn something about how to write a story with conciseness, and we learn how to dig deep for those emotional connections we need to make with readers. Those heart-to-heart connections are what keeps a reader engaged over and above plot. Or maybe I should say below plot? 

So I encourage you to give poetry a try. 

Here are some recent reading recommendations from Simon & Shuster that caught my eye. For now, I can only buy one book, so I’m going to get Taking the Arrow Out of the Heart by Alice Walker. Not only am I a huge fan of her other works, the title is most intriguing. 


By Gabbie Hanna

New York Times bestselling author Gabbie Hanna delivers everything from curious musings to gut-wrenching confessionals in her long-awaited sophomore collection of illustrated poetry.

I Would Leave Me If I Could

By Halsey

Grammy Award–nominated, platinum-selling musician Halsey is heralded as one of the most compelling voices of her generation. In I Would Leave Me If I Could, she reveals never-before-seen poetry of longing, love, and the nuances of bipolar disorder.

 Taking the Arrow Out of the Heart

By Alice Walker

Alice Walker, author of the National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize–winning The Color Purple—“an American novel of permanent importance” (San Francisco Chronicle)—crafts a bilingual collection that is both playfully imaginative and intensely moving.

The Best American Poetry 2020

By David Lehman and Paisley Rekdal

The 2020 edition of contemporary American poetry returns, guest edited by Paisley Rekdal, the award-winning poet and author of Nightingale, proving that this is “a ‘best’ anthology that really lives up to its title” (Chicago Tribune).

I also encourage writers to try penning some poetry, even if it doesn't measure up to what accomplished poets produce. Writing poetry is a good exercise, as I learned many moons ago in a writers' group I belonged to in Omaha, Nebraska. We had a short class at the beginning of each meeting, and once a month the class focused on poetry. We read some, then wrote some, before moving on to critique sessions. My poems, or snippets of poems, weren't all that stellar, but I learned a lot about craft in those exercises.

What about you? Have you written poetry as a way to stretch yourself as a writer? Do you have any books of poetry to recommend? Please do share in the comments.

Award-winning author Maryann Miller has numerous credits as a columnist, novelist, screenwriter, and playwright. She also has an extensive background in editing. You can find out more about Maryann, her books, and her editing services on her Website and her Amazon Author Page read her Blog, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter


  1. By now, everyone knows poetry is just not my thing. BUT...I like Colorado poets Jovan Mays (https://poetlaureateproject.weebly.com/poems.html) and Camille Dungy (http://camilledungy.com/)

  2. Poetry came first for me, then short stories, and finally novels. The title of "I Would Leave Me If I Could intrigues me. Having lived with an unmedicated bipolar husband for a lot of years, I would like to read her take on being bipolar. Living with someone suffering from it created many challenges, but at least I could walk away from it for a while. He couldn't.


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