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Poetry in the Making: An Anthology

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Drawn from Ted Hughes's celebrated programs for the BBC's "Listening and Writing" series, Poetry in the Making is a fresh, student-friendly discussion of what Hughes calls "imaginative writing." Offering generous citations from the work of several English-speaking, mostly modern or contemporary poets--including Hopkins, Dickinson, Eliot, Larkin, Plath, and himself--Hughes Drawn from Ted Hughes's celebrated programs for the BBC's "Listening and Writing" series, Poetry in the Making is a fresh, student-friendly discussion of what Hughes calls "imaginative writing." Offering generous citations from the work of several English-speaking, mostly modern or contemporary poets--including Hopkins, Dickinson, Eliot, Larkin, Plath, and himself--Hughes provides a useful and readable primer on "the kind of [poetry] writing children can do without becoming false to themselves." Like Kenneth Koch's classic Wishes, Lies, and Dreams, Poetry in the Making presents new ideas on how children and other beginners might best compose their own poems while also presenting candid, and more general, insights that all students and scholars of the art or craft of verse will find inspiring. And although these pieces were primarily intended to help students improve their creative writingn abilities, they are also an effective introduction to Hughes's own work and the influences other writers have had on him. Hughes, who was Poet Laureate to Queen Elizabeth II at the time of his death in 1998, casually and colorfully discusses how he came to write, what inspires him (and why), and the difficulties that he (and other writers) confront when writing.


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Drawn from Ted Hughes's celebrated programs for the BBC's "Listening and Writing" series, Poetry in the Making is a fresh, student-friendly discussion of what Hughes calls "imaginative writing." Offering generous citations from the work of several English-speaking, mostly modern or contemporary poets--including Hopkins, Dickinson, Eliot, Larkin, Plath, and himself--Hughes Drawn from Ted Hughes's celebrated programs for the BBC's "Listening and Writing" series, Poetry in the Making is a fresh, student-friendly discussion of what Hughes calls "imaginative writing." Offering generous citations from the work of several English-speaking, mostly modern or contemporary poets--including Hopkins, Dickinson, Eliot, Larkin, Plath, and himself--Hughes provides a useful and readable primer on "the kind of [poetry] writing children can do without becoming false to themselves." Like Kenneth Koch's classic Wishes, Lies, and Dreams, Poetry in the Making presents new ideas on how children and other beginners might best compose their own poems while also presenting candid, and more general, insights that all students and scholars of the art or craft of verse will find inspiring. And although these pieces were primarily intended to help students improve their creative writingn abilities, they are also an effective introduction to Hughes's own work and the influences other writers have had on him. Hughes, who was Poet Laureate to Queen Elizabeth II at the time of his death in 1998, casually and colorfully discusses how he came to write, what inspires him (and why), and the difficulties that he (and other writers) confront when writing.

30 review for Poetry in the Making: An Anthology

  1. 4 out of 5

    Ryan

    This will bring back fond memories of primary school - or so I'm told. I must be one of a handful of Britons who grew up knowing Hughes solely for How the Whale Became. I've caught up on my reading since then. The book, at first glance, seems like the kind of thing a spotty wannabe might take out the local library: a book printed grubby and well-fingered, underlined and scrawled over. Big mistake. Huge. I wish someone had given me this wondrous parcel of poems as a child: 'Badger' by John Clare, This will bring back fond memories of primary school - or so I'm told. I must be one of a handful of Britons who grew up knowing Hughes solely for How the Whale Became. I've caught up on my reading since then. The book, at first glance, seems like the kind of thing a spotty wannabe might take out the local library: a book printed grubby and well-fingered, underlined and scrawled over. Big mistake. Huge. I wish someone had given me this wondrous parcel of poems as a child: 'Badger' by John Clare, 'The Marvel' by Keith Douglas, and other gems by writers as diverse as Emily Dickinson, George Mackay Brown, Edward Thomas and Gerard Manley Hopkins. Hughes' notes in the section titled 'Capturing Animals' are wonderful. ('The minute you flinch, and take your mind off this thing, and begin to look at the words and worry about them...then your worry goes into them and they set about killing each other.')

  2. 5 out of 5

    Regsly

    College reads: I only read chapters/sections relevant to my studies, hence the dnf

  3. 5 out of 5

    J. Alfred

    Hughes as pedagogue! Who knew? This is a thin handy volume for the classroom teacher or directly for the student. Its purpose is to provide a selection of models of different kinds of writing and provide usable exercises for the teacher to put in his or her toolbox. A lot of these would make strong Bell Ringers or journal prompts, or things to fold into what you've already got. I think that this is worth having on your shelves if you teach a writing-centric class. Hughes as pedagogue! Who knew? This is a thin handy volume for the classroom teacher or directly for the student. Its purpose is to provide a selection of models of different kinds of writing and provide usable exercises for the teacher to put in his or her toolbox. A lot of these would make strong Bell Ringers or journal prompts, or things to fold into what you've already got. I think that this is worth having on your shelves if you teach a writing-centric class.

  4. 4 out of 5

    D

    A penetrating look at poetry in the making through the eyes of Ted Hughes. although aimed at children and teachers, there is a lot of thoughtful advice here for any age group and also a great selection of poetry from a diverse range of poets.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Erica Zahn

    Hughes manages to avoid specifics in this guide to poetry-writing, giving a liberating tone to the thing, but at the same time ends up providing some quite specific guidelines in terms of the mindset of a poet and how to analyse a subject, reflecting Hughes’ own practical approach as well as setting ground rules that still allow for freedom of expression. It reminds me somewhat of a cookbook I came across where the author would describe particular recipes and methods at length, but refuse to put Hughes manages to avoid specifics in this guide to poetry-writing, giving a liberating tone to the thing, but at the same time ends up providing some quite specific guidelines in terms of the mindset of a poet and how to analyse a subject, reflecting Hughes’ own practical approach as well as setting ground rules that still allow for freedom of expression. It reminds me somewhat of a cookbook I came across where the author would describe particular recipes and methods at length, but refuse to put ingredients, measurements or instructions. The example poems that intermingle with his subjects (perhaps the ‘pictures’ in this analogy) at times directly, sometimes more tangentially, reflect his point – I suppose these themselves in their diversity demonstrate, all the same, that some rules are there to be broken. I was amused, particularly, by how brief and straightforward the sections on novel-writing are – he makes it seem so easy (I say this as a poet who is struggling with some ideas for longer works in prose). Some chapters are less successful than others (I liked the ‘Meet My Folks’ family chapter a little, but it covered much the same ground as the ‘People’ chapter, and the Moon chapter provides imaginative poetry ideas but seems a little out of place), but the beginning and ending of the book seem to tie it all together and make it sound. Although it seems to be primarily aimed at teachers and students, the guide provides some good examples for each subject matter and is brief and straightforward while still providing helpful prompts for the potential use of those older and (perhaps) more sophisticated.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Mina Akida

    A short and sweet read - includes a wide variety of selections of poetry from names such as Plath, Roethke, Vasco Popa and many more. Complimented with insightful comments from Ted Hughes on poetry of different thematic topics (animals, people, wind & weather, etc.). One of my favourite selections: "“...imagine what you are writing about. See it and live it. Do not think it up laboriously, as if you were working out mental arithmetic. Just look at it, touch it, smell it, listen to it, turn yourse A short and sweet read - includes a wide variety of selections of poetry from names such as Plath, Roethke, Vasco Popa and many more. Complimented with insightful comments from Ted Hughes on poetry of different thematic topics (animals, people, wind & weather, etc.). One of my favourite selections: "“...imagine what you are writing about. See it and live it. Do not think it up laboriously, as if you were working out mental arithmetic. Just look at it, touch it, smell it, listen to it, turn yourself into it. When you do this, the words look after themselves, like magic.”

  7. 5 out of 5

    Lauma Lapa

    i really wish someone would write a book like this for the latvian schools. to teach to see, to capture, to think, to reflect, to name. so perfectly.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Henry Sturcke

    This slim paperback collects a series of radio talks English poet Ted Hughes gave for the BBC Schools Service in the 1960s. That fact evokes a time when you could expect a class of ten-to-fourteen-year-olds to pay attention to a radio in the classroom. No powerpoint, no video, no smartboard. “Wireless” meant something else in those days. So the technology of delivery is outdated. But what about the content? It holds up well. Hughes has thought intelligently about what to present in just nine less This slim paperback collects a series of radio talks English poet Ted Hughes gave for the BBC Schools Service in the 1960s. That fact evokes a time when you could expect a class of ten-to-fourteen-year-olds to pay attention to a radio in the classroom. No powerpoint, no video, no smartboard. “Wireless” meant something else in those days. So the technology of delivery is outdated. But what about the content? It holds up well. Hughes has thought intelligently about what to present in just nine lessons that will set pupils off on the adventure of creating their own poems and stories. He does this without condescending to his listeners. Hughes illustrates his points with a selection of poems, both his own and those of other poets. For publication, he supplemented the talks with notes for classroom teachers and additional verses. The book closes with a short chapter in which Hughes tackles the challenge of correlating experience with words. The difficulty of finding just the right word is evident, but the other half of the equation presents a challenge, as well. We are barely aware of all that our senses take in; in what sense is that experience? (In an earlier chapter, he asks how many of us, appearing in court, would want to have our case decided by a jury that recalled no more of the evidence than we do of last week’s lessons). Hughes counters this by speculating that a sense called psychometry may be something we all have, not just the few for whom it is documented. This final chapter is not numbered, as the others are, which leads me to think it was not one of the broadcast talks. Possibly a wise decision; I didn’t notice this anomaly at first and found myself wondering what 10-to-14-year-olds, sitting at their desks as the words came out of a wooden box, would have made of it. I think this book would still be valuable for anyone tasked with introducing poetry to children, or for adults who want to bootstrap themselves into the matter of reading and writing poems.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Sue

    What a great little book. I might not think much of Ted Hughes, or most of his poems, but I did learn a lot from this slim volume which seems to have been put together from a series of TV programmes on poetry which TH created for schoolchildren. In between sample poems about i) Animals, ii) Wind and weather, iii) People. iii) Learning to think afresh, iv) Landscapes, v) Family and other people, vi 'Moon' or other imaginative creations, it gives exercises for teachers to help them inspire childre What a great little book. I might not think much of Ted Hughes, or most of his poems, but I did learn a lot from this slim volume which seems to have been put together from a series of TV programmes on poetry which TH created for schoolchildren. In between sample poems about i) Animals, ii) Wind and weather, iii) People. iii) Learning to think afresh, iv) Landscapes, v) Family and other people, vi 'Moon' or other imaginative creations, it gives exercises for teachers to help them inspire children to unleash their innate creativity and to get writing. Setting a topic and limited timeframe seem to be key. Since I'm currently suffering from writer's block, I found it to be like a breath of fresh air and it made me want to get writing. In fact, TH's down-to-earth, succinct and clear guidelines are inspiration in themselves! Much better than any advice or tuition I've ever received in a classroom - and I've tried a couple courses. I understand now that poetry - any fictional writing, for that matter - depends on concentration and powers of observation, and a willingness to try. Practice makes perfect. There's nothing mystical about it, and it doesn't require some great literary sensibility possessed by only a few. I got this as a library book but it's so handy that I think I'm now going to have to buy a copy, especially as all excuses for delaying a daily writing practice are now gone.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Howard

    Habitat destruction that affects organisms need for warmth and for food in the environment is part of the reasons for biodiversity loss. Ted Hughes poetry book (1st edition 1967) draws the line between the similarity between poetry making and zoo-keeping. The spirit or essence of a poem is to capture in words a linguistic expression of a living organism, be it a mouse, a plant or an uncle or the weather. Such phenomena have characters that can be inspired and communicated in poetry. Poetry in th Habitat destruction that affects organisms need for warmth and for food in the environment is part of the reasons for biodiversity loss. Ted Hughes poetry book (1st edition 1967) draws the line between the similarity between poetry making and zoo-keeping. The spirit or essence of a poem is to capture in words a linguistic expression of a living organism, be it a mouse, a plant or an uncle or the weather. Such phenomena have characters that can be inspired and communicated in poetry. Poetry in the Making is a great book, suitable for people who have realized that poetry making is an activism, good for expressing problems in words, to allow the problems to be begun to be understood by the mind of the occupant of the body whose mind is attached, and any other readers. With the idioms of Sarah Gatley, cat with a cat-flap in a door attached to a house for her and those of Bill Bryson, a guide to the body for occupants ... and activism - the war of art - and with Ted Hughes Poetry in the making advice, poetry becomes an unstoppable form of expression. Just write in cadences ...

  11. 4 out of 5

    Domhnall

    An experience of my schooldays that has never left me was being required (I was not a volunteer) to take part in a debate on the proposition "There is life on the moon." My task was to argue for the motion and I found, when I stood to speak, that I had not one single thought to express. It is only now, in retirement and reading these lessons by Ted Hughes, that I have finally worked out what I might have said. An experience of my schooldays that has never left me was being required (I was not a volunteer) to take part in a debate on the proposition "There is life on the moon." My task was to argue for the motion and I found, when I stood to speak, that I had not one single thought to express. It is only now, in retirement and reading these lessons by Ted Hughes, that I have finally worked out what I might have said.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jacqueline

    What a great book this. I wasnt sure what to expect when I first started it but it had made me take time to think about the subject of my poetry. Written.first in 1967 it is aimed at Teachers to include in their teaching plans. It is.old fashioned and quaint but still very relevant today. A great addition to my library.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jess

    A lovely little snapshot of how to write/teach poetry! Very useful and inspiring :)

  14. 5 out of 5

    Emma

    Useful for his insights into the writing of other poets

  15. 5 out of 5

    Russio

    This is an odd book from an odd time and Ted Hughes comes across in it as both a revolutionary, freeing up language by giving his student-readers permission to use it, and a traditionalist, in talking about "bad poetry" as an arbritary matter. In nine chapters he tends to espouse a view of how poetry should be written (or novels). Often there is some quite useful guidance here. He then exemplifies with poems that back up his view (sometimes perfectly, sometimes more obliquely, occasionally "at a This is an odd book from an odd time and Ted Hughes comes across in it as both a revolutionary, freeing up language by giving his student-readers permission to use it, and a traditionalist, in talking about "bad poetry" as an arbritary matter. In nine chapters he tends to espouse a view of how poetry should be written (or novels). Often there is some quite useful guidance here. He then exemplifies with poems that back up his view (sometimes perfectly, sometimes more obliquely, occasionally "at a real push"). Finally he offers notes to an educator teaching the skills he is outlining. As a educational text it is better than nothing, although the address to his audience both expects much from them (i.e. to appreciate the feelings of getting lost in a landscape), and little at the same time - there is sometimes a whiff of a sneer of condescension about his comments (he suggests his charges may have little success). My feelings were very mixed about this and a I feel it reflected both a great poet and a writer operating in unusual times, as the sixties opened up an interest in creativity coupled with a formal regard and snobbery that persisted from earlier times. This tension between creativity and notions of approved quality persists to this day.

  16. 4 out of 5

    John Burns

    This book had something of an influence on me as I first read it as a teenager when I was just starting to do my own creative writing (poems and songs). Hughes has some very interesting ideas dotted throughout this book and he communicates them in a very compelling and distinctive way. The book is a bit of a hodge podge though. It seems to veer between being a teaching manual, an erudite treatise on poetry and psychology and a naff anthology of poems for kids. Some of the chapters seem to have v This book had something of an influence on me as I first read it as a teenager when I was just starting to do my own creative writing (poems and songs). Hughes has some very interesting ideas dotted throughout this book and he communicates them in a very compelling and distinctive way. The book is a bit of a hodge podge though. It seems to veer between being a teaching manual, an erudite treatise on poetry and psychology and a naff anthology of poems for kids. Some of the chapters seem to have very different objectives and target audiences and the overall result, when you take the book as a whole, is jarring. I think i would recommend this book to young writers with the slight reservation that some chapters are a lot more insightful and worthwhile than others. It's a short book however and features a few nice poems and some very useable insights.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    Well, that was 90% absolute brilliance. My love for Ted Hughes is unending. He captures the essence of poetry so well, and gives some great practical suggestions for poetry exercises. He also interweaves examples of other poet's works, as well as his own, which exposed me to some wonderful new authors, notably Vasco Popa. On the whole a fantastic book. (Unfortunately there was also the other 10%, which stops me from giving five stars: first the chapter Meet My Folks, which was juvenile, and then Well, that was 90% absolute brilliance. My love for Ted Hughes is unending. He captures the essence of poetry so well, and gives some great practical suggestions for poetry exercises. He also interweaves examples of other poet's works, as well as his own, which exposed me to some wonderful new authors, notably Vasco Popa. On the whole a fantastic book. (Unfortunately there was also the other 10%, which stops me from giving five stars: first the chapter Meet My Folks, which was juvenile, and then Moon Creatures, which read like an acid trip. We all have off days, but we don't have to publish them, Ted! But anyway, he brought it back with that beautiful final chapter.)

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kevin

    A nice little book about writing and thinking. it comes from a radio series for kids i guess but feels like gentle encouragement for a general audience (until the last few sections which are more kiddie maybe). Inspiring a playful mood and a closer look at the everyday that might have come a little easier to us when we were children. I always find it inspiring to read good poems as well - why don't i read poetry more?! A nice little book about writing and thinking. it comes from a radio series for kids i guess but feels like gentle encouragement for a general audience (until the last few sections which are more kiddie maybe). Inspiring a playful mood and a closer look at the everyday that might have come a little easier to us when we were children. I always find it inspiring to read good poems as well - why don't i read poetry more?!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Sherry Chandler

    These radio "programmes" were done for children but there's plenty of food for thought here for adults, no matter your opinion of Ted Hughes the poet or T.H. the man. Americans would find some of the material dark for children's consumption. Certainly it doesn't condescend. These radio "programmes" were done for children but there's plenty of food for thought here for adults, no matter your opinion of Ted Hughes the poet or T.H. the man. Americans would find some of the material dark for children's consumption. Certainly it doesn't condescend.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    Doesn't over-intellectualise - just inspires and demystifies. Doesn't over-intellectualise - just inspires and demystifies.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Adam J. M. Eagleton

    This is a wonderful book. To read this great poet's thoughts about poetry and the creative process in such an impersonal way is a supreme pleasure, and his wisdom is, to me at least, invaluable. This is a wonderful book. To read this great poet's thoughts about poetry and the creative process in such an impersonal way is a supreme pleasure, and his wisdom is, to me at least, invaluable.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Chris S

    Classic poetry teaching material.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Frances Tara Stirling Home Drummond Moray

    Left behind in a cafe

  24. 4 out of 5

    Andy

    This is a terrific little book - I completely recommend it to any jaded creative soul as a tool for regaining your childlike mojo. I wish I had read this when I was a kid.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Aitchemm

    A wonderful insight into the creative process. I would like to have read a bit more though.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Banbury

    Meh. Perhaps it is a good manual for teaching poetry to children; however, few of the poems are inspiring or compelling.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Simon Cowan

  28. 4 out of 5

    Baron Deschauer

  29. 5 out of 5

    Eduardo Rodríguez

  30. 4 out of 5

    Clif

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