The following books can be purchased or ordered through RiverRun Bookstore in downtown Portsmouth.
Kimberly’s Short List of Books Useful to Poets
The Art of Attention by Donald Revell
This is a beautifully written reflection on the practice of paying attention to the world, including keen insights into how that practice informs the making of poems.
A Poetry Handbook by Mary Oliver
The Practice of Poetry by Robin Behn and Chase Twitchell
The Practice of Poetry has some of the best writing prompts I’ve seen. Most of them will cut through your habitual approaches to making poems. An excellent source for fresh ways to get writing!
Nine Gates by Jane Hirshfield
One of my favorite books on the practice of writing. Hirshfield’s elegant ideas can seem abstract, but if you have been writing for a while, you’ll recognize the truth of her perceptions about the act of creation.
Poet’s Companion by Kim Addonizio
The Making of a Poem by Strand/Boland
The Ode Less Travelled by Stephen Fry
If you are curious about making a sonnet, say, or a villanelle (pantoum, sestina, ballad, etc., etc.), this is the most entertaining and accessible book about how to give traditional poetic forms a try! Fry is funny, smart, and inviting. You’ll enjoy his exercises and learn more than you ever did in high school ~ painlessly!
Jody’s Short List of Books Useful to Writer’s of Fiction
The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction, edited by Tara L. Masih
This is probably the best book I’ve found specifically about the techniques and constraints of writing flash fiction. Various authors and teachers take quick cracks at such topics as titles, load-bearing sentences, and what distinguishes a short short from a prose poem (if anything)—and all of them provide intriguing writing exercises and jumpstarts.
The Art of Subtext by Charles Baxter
What I love about this book is that it steps past the usual concerns about plot, character, setting, etc., and opens a door into a seldom-visited room where often far more interesting things are going on. Subtext—what’s implied and unspoken, the moods and ideas we as readers glean rather than are told—is what gives resonance to prose, and an indispensable tool for thoughtful writers. (Other titles in The Art of… series from Graywolf, each focusing on a specific aspect of the craft of writing, are also well worth checking out.)
The Modern Library Writer’s Workshop by Stephen Koch
The Plot Thickens: 8 Ways to Bring Fiction to Life by Noah Lukeman
Naming the World, edited by Bret Anthony Johnston
Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg
Rebecca’s Short List of Books Useful to Memoirists
Your Life as Story by Tristine Rainer
This practical, comprehensive book coaches autobiographical writers through the process of finding, shaping, and crafting the stories in their lives into dramatic narratives. Along with giving an overview of the emergence of new autobiography, it is filled with specific guidance, supporting examples, and creative exercise. There is much here to inspire the new or experienced writer.
The Memoirist and the Memoir by Thomas Larson
This is a fascinating discussion of the way writing memoir reshapes memory and the rememberer. Treating specific memoirs like case studies, Larson examines the complexity of a memoirist’s exploration and presentation of self. Thought provoking and rewarding, the book highlights why memoirs are compelling to read and write.
Tell Me True, edited by Patricia Hampl and Elaine Tyler May
This wonderful group of essays explores the landscape between memoir and history. Memoirists who are historians, journalists, poets and fiction writers discuss the issues and possibilities connected to memoir writing. They examine such topics as the growing authority of the personal voice, the line between fact and fiction (especially as it relates to memory), and the importance of story to understanding the past and to making meaning. This is the kind of collection that invites more than one reading.
Inventing the Truth: The Art and Craft of Memoir, edited by William Zinsser
Writing the Memoir, Judith Barrington
The Memoir Book, Patti Miller