Books

Top 5 books to inspire you to write poetry, selected by The Poetry Pharmacy's Deborah Alma

Practical advice, support and inspiration for aspiring poets

A notebook, a pen and a cup of coffee

Image: Yannick Pulver on Unsplash

Writing poetry can be daunting for those taking their first steps, Deborah Alma pics five of the best guides to inspire would-be poets.

52 Ways of Looking at a Poem by Ruth Padel

An illuminating read for a better understanding of the qualities that make good contemporary poetry, Ruth Padel offers a sparkling introduction to what makes a poem tick.

Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg

‘Beginner’s mind, pen and paper….Keep your hand moving,” she commands. “Don’t cross out, don’t worry about spelling, punctuation, and grammar; lose control, don’t think, don’t get logical, go for the jugular.”

The Art of Voice by Tony Hoagland with Kay Cosgrove

The late lamented US poet Tony Hoagland provides inspiration in short, essay-style chapters with 30 stimulating exercises that will prove invaluable for any practising writer. 

The Poetry Home Repair Manual by Ted Kooser

This is a rare handbook that will provide inspiration and support for developing poets and will energise poets already practising the craft. 

How To Be A Poet edited by Jo Bell and Jane Commane

How to be a Poet combines practical advice and topical mini-essays. It’s a no-nonsense manual where the spanners are replaced with ink, elbow grease and edits.

Deborah Alma is the co-founder of the world’s first poetry pharmacy.

Poetry projects to make and do book cover

Poetry Projects to Make and Do edited by Deborah Alma is out in paperback on 16 November 2023 (Nine Arches Press, £16.99). You can buy some of these titles from The Big Issue shop on Bookshop.org, which helps to support The Big Issue and independent bookshops.

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