Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Difficult to Explain- a Poetry Guidebook
Difficult to Explain, edited by South African poet Finuala Dowling, is a great way to enter the murky water of poetry gently and without fear. The book is published by Hands-on Books an imprint of Modjaji Books. (It can be bought HERE)
The book starts with Ms Dowling explaining her initial reluctance to teach poetry. She finally decides to prolong a summer writing course by holding sessions in her home that teeters on a hill with a window looking out to the ocean where passing whales often mean breaktime for the students and their teacher.
The book starts with Ms Dowling explaining how the classes are run and her approach to teaching poetry. The remainder of the book is poems written by her students. At the beginning of a section she explains what the assignment was and then gives examples of how her students interpreted the assignment.
I don't write poetry though I have an interest in doing so, not for publication, more for exercises to get my creative juices flowing when I'm feeling stale. This book is lovely for me as I intend to try and do some of the assignment too. So the book is an introduction to poetry and poetry writing, with exercises that are safe to do at home without supervision and yet it is also full of fabulous, funny, touching poems. How can you NOT love an assignment that asks you to write a poem with a title that is significantly longer than the poem itself?
I can't deny I'm dead jealous of each and every one of Ms Dowling's students. I would love to sit in that room at the end of Africa looking at whales while writing poetry, but I'm very happy the group put this book together. They've laid out some sturdy step-stones to start me out on my poetic way. Thank you- you lucky devils!!