NEW BOOKS FOR WRITERS & TEACHERS
list, arranged alphabetically by title, features recently published
anthologies, essay collections, guides, and resources for writers and
teachers. If you have a book you'd like us to consider including,
please send a copy to Editor, Poets & Writers Magazine, 90 Broad Street, Suite 2100, New York, NY 10004.
Creating Character: How to Build Story People (University of Oklahoma Press, February 2008) by Dwight V. Swain. A guide to developing and improving characters in fiction by Swain who taught for twenty years in the Professional Writing Program at the University of Oklahoma.
How Not to Write a Novel: 200 Classic Mistakes and How to Avoid Them---A Misstep-by-Misstep Guide (Collins, April, 2008) by Howard Mittlemark and Sandra Newman. A quick-fix guide to improving your fiction that features sections such as Plot, Character, Style, and The World of the Bad Novel.
The New Writer's Handbook: A Practical Anthology of Best Advice for Your Craft & Career (Scarletta Press, August, 2008) edited by Philip Martin. A collection of over fifty articles for writers of fiction and nonfiction on writing as a vocation and career. This anthology features sections on a variety of topics including creativity and motivation, the craft of writing, pitching work, and being business savvy.
Ron Carlson Writes a Story (Graywolf Press, September, 2007) by Ron Carlson. The award-winning short story writer takes readers through the process of crafting one of his own stories as an example of how to approach the form.
The Virginia Woolf Writer's Workshop: Seven Lessons to Inspire Great Writing (Bantam, October, 2007) by Danell Jones. Drawn from the essays, letters, diaries, and novels of Virginia Woolf, a collection of advice and exercises to guide writers in their practice.
The Writing Workshop Note Book: Notes on Creating and Workshopping (Soft Skull Press, January 2008) by Alan Ziegler. Written for teachers and students of workshops, a book about the processes of creative writing and critiquing by the chair of the School of Arts Writing Division at Columbia University in New York City.
99 Ways to Tell a Story: Exercises in Style (Chamberlain Bros., October, 2005) by Matt Madden.
A compilation of comics that follow the common thread of one story, this book examines the different ways of telling a tale.
100 Essential Modern Poems ( Ivan R. Dee, October, 2005) by Joseph Parisi.
Joseph Parisi, former editor of Poetry Magazine,
has compiled a book of poems written over the past century. A brief
biography of each poet and their body of work is included as well as
several poems from each author. William Butler Yeats, Ezra Pound, T.S.
Eliot, W.H. Auden, Sylvia Plath, and Billy Collins are among the
authors featured in the collection.
About Writing: Seven Essays, Four Letters & Five Interviews (Wesleyan University Press, January, 2006) by Samuel R. Delany.
A book written for creative writers, About Writing
includes essays by novelist Samuel R. Delany on the mechanics of
fiction writing. It also features a discussion of contemporary creative
writing through letters of correspondence with authors and interviews
with Delany himself.
Accent on Meter: A Handbook for Readers of Poetry (National Council of Teachers of English, May, 2004) by Joseph Powell and Mark Halperin.
Designed for use in the classroom, this text offers instruction on how
to better understand the meaning of poetry by analyzing the
relationship between meaning, meter, and rhythm. It includes glossaries
of poetry terms and forms.
After Every War (Princeton University Press, October 2004) translated by Eavan Boland.
In this anthology, Irish poet Eavan Boland translates the poems of nine
German-speaking women who lived in Europe in the years before and after
World War II. Each poet is introduced by Boland with some biographical
Against Workshopping Manuscripts: A Plea for Justice to Student Writers (Bly and Loveland Press, April, 2006) by Carol Bly and Cynthia Loveland.
An argument for serious change in the teaching of creative writing,
this book offers alternatives to the workshop model followed in most
creative writing programs.
An Invitation to Poetry: A New Favorite Poem Project Anthology (Norton, August, 2004) edited by Robert Pinksy and Maggie Dietz.
Two hundred poems chosen by everyday Americans of various ages and from
all over the country make up this anthology. Each selection is
accompanied by a brief statement about the poem by the person who chose
it. The book includes a DVD with readings of the collected work.
The Anchor Book of New American Short Stories (Anchor Books, 2004) edited by Ben Marcus.
This anthology of short stories contains twenty-nine selections chosen by the novelist and former fiction editor of Fence
that showcase the stylistic variety of storytelling in America today.
Writers include David Foster Wallace, George Saunders, Gary Lutz, and
Pulitzer Prize winner Jhumpa Lahiri.
Ariel: The Restored Edition (HarperCollins, November 2004) by Sylvia Plath.
Restored to its original state before her death, this edition of Sylvia
Plath’s last volume of poetry gives readers new insight into Plath’s
state of mind during the time before her suicide. This edition,
introduced by Plath’s daughter, Frieda Hughes, includes a reproduction
of Plath’s original manuscript and drafts of the poem “Ariel.”
Before We Get Started: A Practical Memoir of the Writer’s Life (Ballantine Books, January 2005) by Bret Lott.
Best-selling author Bret Lott meditates on his writing life in these
ten essays. Lott discusses topics like rejection, publication, and
humility, employing thoughtful and often humorous anecdotes from his
life as well as advice from writers like James Baldwin, Henry James,
and John Gardner.
(Writer's Digest Books, 2006) by Jessica Page Morrell.
A guide to the craft of mastering the subtle elements of fiction writing.
Book by Book: Notes on Reading and Life (Henry Holt, May, 2006) by Michael Dirda.
Pulitzer Prize winner and Washington Post staff writer Michael Dirda offers his reflections on reading not only for pleasure but also as a way to learn how to live.
Coin of the Realm: Essays on the Life and Art of Poetry (Graywolf Press, 2004) by Carl Phillips.
This collection of essays contains sixteen sophisticated selections by
Phillips on a variety of poetic topics. It includes discussions of
individual poets such as George Herbert and T.S. Eliot as well as
essays on more general subjects such as “Myth and Fable: Their Place in
Poetry” and “Association in Poetry.”
Contemporary Literary Criticism, Vol. 187 (Gale, 2004) edited by Tom Burns and Jeffrey W. Hunter.
Volume 187 of this scholarly journal contains literary criticism of
works by Russell Banks, Maria Irene Fornes, and Kenzaburō Ōe as well as
biographical information and recent interviews with each author. Also
included in this volume is a section examining post-apartheid
literature in South Africa.
The Curious Case of the Misplaced Modifier (Writers Digest Books, 2006) by Bonnie Trenga.
A resource for the beginning writer on how to avoid the grammar mistakes that result in weak writing.
Disappearing Ink: Poetry at the End of Print Culture (Graywolf Press, October 2004) by Dana Gioia.
Poet Dana Gioia’s collection of essays and book reviews muses on the
changing role of poets and poetry in modern society. His title essay
examines the re-emergence of poetry as an oral medium in popular
Dreaming by the Book (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1999) by Elaine Scarry.
The twelve chapters of this writers' guide allow Scarry to explore the
process of imaginative creation through an elegant combination of
literary criticism, psychology, neuroscience, and philosophy. She
emphasizes the visual power of writing by defining five “mental
practices” by which authors bring their words to life: radiant
ignition, rarity, dyadic addition and subtraction, stretching, and
The Elements of Autobiography and Life Narratives (Longman, October 2004) by Catherine L. Hobbs.
Geared toward helping students translate their lives into a “life
narrative,” this textbook includes examples from other authors as well
as numerous exercises to get the reader writing. This textbook also
includes a focus on electronic media and its relationship to
The Forest for the Trees: An Editor’s Advice to Writers (Riverhead Books, 2000) by Betsy Lerner.
This guide, written by the former executive editor of Doubleday,
contains six amusing chapters about different types of writers (such as
the swashbuckling drunkard) intended to correct problems in would-be
authors who fall into these categories and six more on practical
(Grove Press, April, 2005) by Robert Olen Butler and edited by Janet Burroway.
This guide to writing fiction features the lectures of Pulitzer
Prize-winning novelist Robert Olen Butler on general topics, such as
getting into the mind set of writing and the cinema of the mind, to
more specific subjects, such as writing exercises and the analysis of
Unstuck Without Coming Unglued: A Women's Guide to Outsmarting
Procrastination, Writer's Block, and Other Obstacles to Living a
Creative Life (Seal Press, July 2007) by Susan O'Doherty.
Psychotherapist Susan O'Doherty offers advice about how to avoid major
psychological roadblocks to the creative process that many women face.
Chapters include "What We Learned at Home," The Impossible Position:
Managing Motherhood and Creativity," and "Damned if We Do: 'Fear of
Grammar and Style at Your Fingertips
(Alpha Books, July 2007) by Lara M. Robbins. A straightforward and
easy-to-use reference guide to the proper application of grammar,
style, and punctuation.
The Grammar Bible (Holt, 2004) by Michael Strumpf and Auriel Douglas.
Strumpf, the founder of the National Grammar Hotline, and Douglas
provide a comprehensive resource for all your grammar needs. As the
title suggests, nearly every grammatical question—from the most
practical to the most nit-picky—can be answered by this easily
Grammar Snobs Are Great Big Meanies (Penguin, March, 2006) by June Casagrande.
Grammar columnist for the Los Angeles Times community newspapers and ninth-grade drop-out June Casagrande offers a practical approach to understanding grammar usage.
The Gremlins of Grammar: A Guide to Conquering the Mischievous Myths that Plague American English (McGraw-Hill, October, 2005) by Toni Boyle and K.D. Sullivan.
A comprehensive guide to grammar and its usage.
Inspired Creative Writing: Pokes and Prods for Scribblers of All Stripes (Perigree, July 2007) by Alexander Gordon Smith. A workbook of tactics and exercises to get the writer's imagination flowing.
Interview with a Ghost (Graywolf, April, 2006) by Tom Sleigh.
A collection of essays by poet Tom Sleigh about subjects that range
from the limits to subjectivity in contemporary poetry to the work of
poets Frank Bidart, Derek Walcott, and Seamus Heaney.
Kafka: The Decisive Years (Harcourt, November, 2005) by Reiner Stach, translated by Shelley Frisch.
The first of a three-volume biography on Franz Kafka, this book begins
with the end of the writer’s adolescence in 1910 and documents his life
through 1915, during which Kafka produced some of his most famous
Keywords in Creative Writing (Utah State University Press, February, 2006) by Wendy Bishop and David Starkey.
A handbook for teachers and students that is a guide to the creative
writing field. It is composed of the sections (or "clusters," as the
book puts it) Academia, Publishing, Literary Genres and Terms, Writing,
and The Writing Life.
Lofty Dogmas: Poets on Poetics (University of Arkansas Press, October, 2005) edited by Deborah Brown, Annie Finch, and Maxine Kumin.
A compilation of poets’ remarks on poetry spanning from the Greeks and
Romans to contemporary poets. It includes essays on inspiration and
craft as well as on poetry's cultural role.
The Making of a Writer: Journals, 1961-1963 (Random House, January, 2006) by Gail Godwin, edited by Rob Neufeld.
A collection of journal entries from novelist Gail Goldwin’s years as a young writer traveling in Europe.
The Midnight Disease: The Drive to Write, Writer’s Block, and the Creative Brain (Houghton Mifflin, 2004) by Alice W. Flaherty.
Penned by a practicing neurologist, this guide investigates the
neurological processes that cause and accompany writing. It includes
chapters on topics such as creativity, hypergraphia (the overwhelming
desire to write), and writers’ block. Flaherty discusses famous writers
(including Dostoevsky and Hemingway) who may have been afflicted by
brain disorders alongside modern-day patients and studies.
New Stories from the South: The Year’s Best, 2004 (Algonquin Books, 2004) edited by Shannon Ravenel.
This annual short story anthology, now in its 20th edition, contains
eighteen short stories related to the South that were published in
2003. Each selection is followed by a brief statement about the story
by the author and an even briefer author bio. Writers include Rick
Bass, Edward P. Jones, and Jill McCorkle.
The Pen Commandments: A Guide for the Beginning Writer (Anchor Books, September 2004) by Steven Frank.
This humorous guide offers ten tips to help students improve their
writing in the classroom. Author and English teacher Steve Frank
illustrates his points with amusing anecdotes as well as clear examples
that can help students make their writing more concise and more
Poetry 180 More: Extraordinary Poems for Every Day (Random House, April, 2005) edited by Billy Collins.
This anthology of 180 poems follows former U.S. poet laureate Collins's first anthology Poetry 180. Both books were inspired by Collins's poem-a-day program with the Library of Congress.
The Poetry Home Repair Manual: Practical Advice for Beginning Poets (University of Nebraska, February, 2005) by Ted Kooser.
While some formal poetic concerns are addressed, this guide, written by
U.S. poet laureate Kooser, offers a common sense approach to the basics
The Poet's Guide to Life: The Wisdom of Rilke (Modern Library, March, 2005) edited and translated by Ulrich Baer.
A guide about the writing life and the drive to create drawn from a
collection of Rilke's never-before-translated correspondence.
Power and Identity in the Creative Writing Classroom: The Authority Project (Multilingual Matters LTD, 2005) edited by Anna Leahy.
A compilation of essays written by creative writing teachers, this book
discusses philosophies, concerns, and approaches to teaching in a
The Practical Writer: From Inspiration to Publication (Penguin, March, 2004) edited by Therese Eiben and Mary Gannon.
From the editors of Poets & Writers Magazine,
this resource helps writers on their journey from the writing studio to
publication. The essays, written by writers and publishing
professionals, offer advice on a range of topics---from submitting your
work to literary journals to promoting your book, and everything in
The Practice of the Wild
(Shoemaker & Hoard, 1990) by Gary Snyder. A collection of nine
lengthy essays on the environment and nature writing by Snyder, a Zen
Buddhist and Pulitzer Prize winner who is often associated with the
Beats. It is a good source of inspiration for aspiring nature writers
as well as anyone interested in appreciating poetry or prose that is
not grounded entirely in city life.
Publicize Your Book!: An Insider’s Guide to Getting Your Book the Attention It Deserves (Perigee, 2003) by Jacqueline Deval.
Although this guide is not written for complete beginners, it contains
lots of practical advice for getting your book published and sold,
describes a number of specific publicity situations in detail, and
provides a useful list of resources and sample letters.
The Ode Less Traveled: Unlocking the Poet Within (Gotham Book, August, 2006) by Stephen Fry. A humorous guide for anyone interested in learning how to write poetry.
Randall Jarrell on W.H. Auden (Columbia University Press, June, 2005) edited by Stephen Burt with Hannah Brooks-Motl.
A new collection of essays based on a series of lectures given at
Princeton University in 1952 by poet and critic Randall Jarrell on W.H.
The Resilient Writer: Tales of Rejection and Triumph from 23 Top Authors (Persea Books, May, 2005) edited by Catherine Wald.
In this collection of interviews, authors such as Frederick Busch, Joy
Harjo, Amy Tan, and Edmund White share their stories of the failure and
frustration they endured before reaching fame.
Self-Editing for Fiction Writers
(HarperCollins, 2004) by Renni Browne and Dave King. This guide
consists of twelve chapters on the craft of writing, with special
emphasis on revising stories and novels. Includes excellent advice on
topics such as avoiding too much narrative summary, helpful exercises,
and a list of resources.
Shakespeare After All (Pantheon Books, December 2004) by Marjorie Garber.
This lengthy work is a collection of essays about Shakespeare's plays
based on the lectures of Harvard University professor Marjorie Garber.
The book includes an introduction to Shakespeare's life and an
Songs of Ourselves: The Uses of Poetry in America
(Harvard University Press, April 2007) by Joan Shelley Rubin. A
portrait of how the practice of poetry recitation has affected
Americans' lives and understanding of the genre.
The Story Behind the Story (Norton, 2004) co-edited by Peter Turchi and Andrea Barrett.
An anthology of short stories that presents 26 stories from
contemporary writers—including Robert Boswell, Margot Livesay, and
David Shields— each followed by a brief essay from the story’s author
on the process of composing it. The essays provide insights on a
variety of topics including sources of inspiration, making formal
choices, and editing.
Teaching Stories: An Anthology on the Power of Learning and Literature (Modern Library, August 2004) selected by Robert Coles.
Pulitzer Prize-winner Robert Coles brings together twenty-two works of
renowned fiction writers, poets, and essayists to examine the
relationship between learning and literature. Contributors include
Raymond Carver, John Cheever, Anton Chekhov, Flannery O’Connor, and
Themes for English B: A Professor's Education In and Out of Class
(University of Georgia Press, September, 2006) by J. D. Scrimgeour.
Winner of the Association of Writers & Writing Programs Award in
Creative Nonfiction, this collection of essays explores the nature of
Unstuck: A Supportive and Practical Guide to Working Through Writer’s Block
(St. Martin’s Press, 2003) by Jane Anne Staw, Ph.D In this guide, Staw
approaches writer’s block from a less scientific angle than Flaherty
(see The Midnight Disease above). Her very basic advice for
starting to write and overcoming writer’s block is grounded in the
author’s experience as a professor and a workshop leader.
The Wave in the Mind: Talks and Essays on the Writer, the Reader, and the Imagination (Shambala, 2004) by Ursula K. Le Guin.
This book collects 30 of Le Guin’s works on the arts of writing and
reading that range from the autobiographical to the scholarly. The
selections are divided into four categories: Personal Matters,
Readings, Discussions and Opinions, and On Writing. The final section,
which includes “Prides: An Essay on Writing Workshops,” is especially
useful for beginning writers.
Who We Are: On Being (and Not Being) a Jewish American Writer (Schocken Books, May, 2005) edited by Derek Rubin.
An anthology of essays by 29 major Jewish-American writers that examine
the question of identity and how it relates to their work.
Wordsworth: A Life (Ecco Press, December, 2005) by Juliet Barker.
This book chronicles the life and work of William Wordsworth.
Word Wizard: Super Bloopers, Rich Reflections, and Other Acts of Word Magic (St. Martin's Press, April, 2006) by Richard Lederer.
A collection of previously published essays about language and usage by
the author of more than thirty books on the English language.
Writing Brave & Free: Encouraging Words for People Who Want to Start Writing (The University of Nebraska Press, March, 2006) by Ted Kooser and Steve Cox.
In this book Ted Kooser, the U.S. poet laureate and Pulitzer
Prize-winner, and Steve Cox, writer, editor and publisher, share their
experiences and give advice on how to start writing by addressing many
of the concerns that fledgling writers face.
Writing in General and the Short Story in Particular (Houghton Mifflin, 1987) by Rust Hills.
The revised edition of this guide or “Informal Textbook” by the long-time fiction editor of Esquire
describes the essential techniques for crafting fiction and serves as a
useful reference. It includes short chapters on specific topics like
foreshadowing and irony.
Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer (LIttle,
Brown, September, 2006) by Roy Peter Clark. A practical guide for
improving one's writing from a senior scholar at the journalism school
the Poytner Institute.
A Writer’s Guide to Fiction (Perigee, 2004) by Elizabeth Lyon.
A part of the Writer’s Compass series, this thorough guide is divided
into four sections: North (Getting Your Bearings), South
(Troubleshooting and Problem-Solving), East (Your Rising Star), and
West (Refining Your Vision). With a focus on getting started and
crafting intriguing, round characters, the first section is especially
suited for beginning writers.
The Writer’s Mentor: Secrets of Success from the World’s Great Writers (Random House Reference, 2004) edited by Ian Jackman.
In this resource, Jackman has grouped a wealth of remarks from famous
writers—Margaret Atwood, Toni Morrison, Tennessee Williams, and many
others— about writing into chapters, and his explanations turn the
collage into coherent advice. The book is divided into a section on
general writing topics and a section on specific types of writing and
practical advice about publication.
Writing to Change the World (Riverhead Books, April, 2006) by Mary Pipher.
Written for a general audience, Mary Pipher offers a guide to writing as a way to effect social change.
Writing With Intent: Essays, Reviews, Personal Prose 1983-2005 (Carroll & Graf, April, 2005) by Margaret Atwood.
Arranged chronologically into three sections, this collection of 58
works includes book reviews, personal essays, cultural commentary,
introductions to great works of literature, and more.