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          By Erika Dreifus

I would love to see my poetry practice perk up in 2014. Diane Lockward’s latest book, The Crafty Poet: A Portable Workshop (Wind Publications, $20) may be just the thing to help make that happen.

Disclosure: I’ve known Diane Lockward for quite some time. Earlier in her career, she taught English at the New Jersey high school I attended (in fact, she was one of my sister’s English teachers). This connection helps explain why I began following Diane avidly online, where she shares so much poetry knowledge and so many resources for poets, so generously. (I’m also a fan of Diane’s own poetry, which you can find in three books – Temptation by Water, What Feeds Us, and Eve’s Red Dress – as well as in two chapbooks, numerous anthologies, and within still more journals and websites.)

The Crafty Poet marshals this experience. As Diane explains in her new book’s introduction, The Crafty Poet “evolved out of a monthly newsletter [she] started in 2010.” Combining craft tips, model poems with prompts based on those poems, and more, Diane’s newsletters have found an appreciative audience, and they provide the backbone of this book.

The Crafty Poet comprises 10 sections, ranging from “Generating Material/Using Time,” to “Figurative Language,” to “Revision.” Each section includes two to three “craft tips” in which a practicing poet offers a brief discussion on a particular craft element. A poem that Diane has chosen, followed by a prompt she has devised based on that poem, ensues. Sample poems responding to those prompts are also included. Also sprinkled throughout the book are a number of “Poet on the Poem” features, in which Diane interviews poets about a poem of theirs. Each section concludes with a “bonus prompt.”

“There’s a philosophy behind this book,” Diane writes in her introduction. “I believe that courses and workshops are great. I’ve taken lots of them. As a poet who came late to the party and wasn’t able to do an MFA, local courses and summer workshops were where I acquired my poetry education. I supplemented that work with books and more books. Because I believe in the autodidactic method of learning, I have attempted to construct a book that can be used independently, as well as in a group or in a classroom. It is my hope that this book will provide poets and poetry students with a good deal of education and inspiration.” Given my experience reading The Crafty Poet, that hope is more than likely to be fulfilled.

*Please visit to learn more about the author and her book. My thanks to Diane Lockward and Wind Publications for a complimentary review copy. 

Diane Lockward’s poetry newsletter arrives on the first day of each new month. Each issue is something akin to The Crafty Poet in miniature, serving up a poem (with analysis), a prompt, a craft tip, a few recommended links, and other choice morsels. Sign up to receive it (no charge) on Diane’s blog (look on the right-hand side of the screen):