Contrary to popular opinion, being a poet is not easy. Even though you might be a ‘natural’, there are days when the pen just won’t leave the margin and the cursor just won’t shift from the start of the document. And there isn’t much you can do about it. If you love poems and want to be a poet than practice, and read about poetry, waiting for inspiration to take root in the depths of your being. Here are 10 books for prospective poets.

Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke

Love Poems and Want to be a Poet - Letters to a Young Poet
Love Poems and Want to be a Poet – Letters to a Young Poet

This is a series of letters the great German poet Rilke wrote to a younger, prospective poet. These books are a must read for all poets in specific and creative people in general, but the philosophy of life they contain is applicable to pretty much everyone. This book is not about form, structure or vocabulary. It is about being a poet within, in your deepest being.

A Poetry Handbook by Mary Oliver

10 Books For Prospective Poets - A Poetry Handbook
10 Books For Prospective Poets – A Poetry Handbook

Mary Oliver’s nature poetry is a breathtaking glimpse of heaven, and her poetry guide is just as insightful. In this book, she accepts that to be a poet, one must have something poetic at one’s core – that is indispensable. But there are things that can be learnt too – the sound, the word, the form being some of those. In this book, she teaches you to hone just that.

A Poet’s Companion by Kim Addonizio and Dorianne Laux

Love Poems and Want to be a Poet - A Poet’s Companion
Love Poems and Want to be a Poet – A Poet’s Companion

This is one of the most holistic guides to writing you can get. It includes subjects and topics to write about, literary techniques to use to your benefit, overcoming self-doubt, writer’s block and other issues and more. Plus, it also has writing exercises for you to apply your learnings to get the most out of the book.

The Daily Poet by Kelli Russell Agodon and Martha Silano

10 Books For Prospective Poets - The Daily Poet
10 Books For Prospective Poets – The Daily Poet

This is a collection of writing prompts for poets feeling ‘stuck’ in their writing process. There’s one for every day of the year, meaning if you follow this book, you will have enough poems to publish three poetry collections! Of course, these prompts are not mathematical problems, but anchors to be used to express your own thoughts.

The Fourth Dimension of a Poem and Other Essays by M H Abrams

Love Poems and Want to be a Poet - The Fourth Dimension of a Poem and Other Essays
Love Poems and Want to be a Poet – The Fourth Dimension of a Poem and Other Essays

M H Abrams is one of the leading literary critics today, and his essays expound the philosophy of poetry. The titular essay is about the joy od reading poetry aloud, while some of the other essays consider the contribution of literary critics to poetry. This book doesn’t give overt advice, but the passion Abrams writes with will sure inspire writers.

The Making of a Poem by Eavan Boland and Mark Strand

10 Books For Prospective Poets - The Making of a Poem
10 Books For Prospective Poets – The Making of a Poem

This is a Norton anthology which discusses form and structure. Oftentimes, poets can get carried away by free form, thinking that poetry is formless. While that is true to an extent, it is also important that poetry be distinguished from prose – through its structure, texture and rhythm. This book is ideal for that.

In the Palm of Your Hand by Steve Kowit

Love Poems and Want to be a Poet - In the Palm of Your Hand
Love Poems and Want to be a Poet – In the Palm of Your Hand

The subtitle of this book is ‘a portable writer’s workshop’ and that is exactly what this book is about. The best thing about this book is that is serves as double agent of sorts, it’s a guide for both teachers and students alike. It’s great as a writing exercise but also to understand the basics of poetry.

The Practice of Poetry by Robin Behn and Chase Twitchell

10 Books For Prospective Poets - The Practice of Poetry
10 Books For Prospective Poets – The Practice of Poetry

This is an anthology of writing exercises by some of the greatest poets of modern day, including Rita Dove and Agha Shahid Ali. Not only do these exercises act as prompts for your creativity to run rife, but also offer some great advice. This book is ideal for days when you absolutely cannot seem to get anything out of your system and on to paper.

Poetry, Language, Thought by Martin Heidegger

Love Poems and Want to be a Poet - Poetry, Language, Thought
Love Poems and Want to be a Poet – Poetry, Language, Thought

The thing about poetry is that it is never just about writing – it is about life itself. The internal and external must blend to create a poem, and this philosophical book talks about exactly that. Heidigger is a prominent philosopher, and in this book he brings his rich insights to discuss the parameters of poetry in the human world.

The Art of Poetry by Shira Wolosky

10 Books For Prospective Poets - The Art of Poetry
10 Books For Prospective Poets – The Art of Poetry

To write fine poetry, it is as important to read as it is to write. Critical appreciation of poems is an essential and non-negotiable part of being a good writer, and Wolosky’s book covers this. This is a comprehensive guide to understanding the written word and its form, and how one can grasp in its entirety. She also includes readings from the greatest poets.

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