In the past few years, poet and NEA fellow Tania Runyan revolutionized the teaching of poetry with the release of How to Read a Poem. Using the Billy Collins poem “Introduction to Poetry” as a guide, Runyan invited readers into a new way of reading, not with the goal of “torturing a confession” from the poem, but of holding a poem up to the light, or pressing it like a hive to the ear (painless, we assure you).
Runyan has done it again. Now she invites us to create our own poems, in the companion volume How to Write a Poem: Based on the Billy Collins Poem “Introduction to Poetry.”
While individual writers and readers of poetry have appreciated these books, we want to continue our mission to get these excellent resources into classrooms around the country. To that end, we’ve dusted off our teacher map and again invite you to share How to Read a Poem and now How to Write a Poem with a teacher in your state. (It’s so simple when you order your own copy to just make it two, and give that other one away.)
After all, teachers love these books. Listen:
For years I’ve searched for a poetry-writing text that provides enough substance without the inevitable overload of content I’ll never cover. Now my search is complete. The companion to her insightful and accessible How to Read a Poem (and written in the same inviting tone), Tania Runyan’s How to Write a Poemcontains three essential elements I’ve yet to find in one poetry-writing text: generous and informed instruction, dozens of compelling example poems, and rich and plentiful exercises that avoid tricks and gimmicks. Any poetry-writing teacher would do well to assign this text. Any writer would do well to draft and revise poems based upon these prompts.
—Nathaniel L. Hansen; Assistant Professor of English & Creative Writing, University of Mary Hardin-Baylor; Director, Windhover Writers’ Festival
How To Write A Poem is a classroom must-have. Through a selection of evocative poetry and a series of accessible exercises, Runyan shows readers how to gather ideas, choose words, strengthen imagery and sound, and she models each of these skills as she writes alongside her readers. This is compassionate, beautiful writing that invites us into the world of poems.
—Callie Feyen, Middle School Teacher, Maryland
So, buy a copy for a teacher today, and drop a note in the comments telling us the state where you’re placing the book and we’ll add it to our map. (See those festive little books all over South Dakota? That’s because the three English teachers in my local high school just got their copies yesterday. What a fun little delivery to make.)
Photo by Sonia Joie. Used with permission.