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Poetry Matters: Writing a Poem from the Inside Out

Poetry Matters: Writing a Poem from the Inside Out

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Poetry Matters: Writing a Poem from the Inside Out

4.5/5 (4 ratings)
113 pages
1 hour
Jun 22, 2010


A practical guide to demystify the process of writing poetry, by the bestselling author of A Writer’s Notebook and the ALA Notable Book Fig Pudding.

Poetry matters. At the most important moments, when everyone else is silent, poetry rises to speak.

This book is full of practical wisdom to help young writers craft beautiful poetry that shines, sings, and soars. It features writing tips and tricks, interviews with published poets for children, and plenty of examples of poetry by published writers—and even young people themselves.

Perfect for classrooms, this lighthearted, appealing manual is a celebration of poetry that is a joy to read. Young poets and aspiring poets of all ages will enjoy these tips on how to simplify the process of writing poetry and find their own unique voice.

Jun 22, 2010

About the author

Ralph Fletcher is the author of many well-received books for children, including the novels Fig Pudding and Flying Solo, and the picture books Twilight Comes Twice, Grandpa Never Lies, and Circus Surprise. He lives with his family in New Hampshire. Visit him online at

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Poetry Matters - Ralph Fletcher



An Emotional X-ray

What poetry does at its very best is to make the reader feel. Feel deeply and truly.


Poetry saved my life. Well, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but poetry saved my emotional life. And without emotions, what’s life worth anyway?

In 1974 my brother Bob got killed in a car accident. He was seventeen years old, the fifth in our family of nine children, and his death tore up everyone in my family. Bob’s death stirred up a hornets’ nest of emotions inside me: anger, grief, guilt—even some bitterness. I could feel that swarm of feelings buzzing in my chest day and night I needed some kind of container to hold all of them.

Poetry became that container. After Bobby’s death I read lots of poems. I liked poems because they were short and potent. Some of them really packed a wallop while others, like the following poem, felt like soothing medicine poured over my wound:

The Milkweed

by Richard Wilbur

Anonymous as cherubs

Over the crib of God

White seeds are floating

Out of my burst pod.

What power had I

Before I learned to yield?

Shatter me, great wind:

I shall possess the field.

This poem really touched me. I was awed and somehow encouraged by the idea that the milkweed can only spread after it has been shattered by the wind. I had been shattered by my brother’s death. Maybe there was hope for me, too. This poem gave me the courage to go on with my life.

I read zillions of poems around that time, and I wrote lots of poems, too. A poem is like an X-ray of what’s going on inside you. Inevitably, most of the poems I wrote were reflections on or reactions to Bobby’s death. My parents published a small Bobby Book, and in it was a poem I wrote that was a letter addressed to my brother. It’s a long poem that ends with these

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  • (5/5)
    very good book to help people starting off to write decent poetry that is deeply rooted in the person