The Knowledge: Where Poems Come From and How to Write Them

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David Kirby

A five-time teaching award winner and author of 35 books, David Kirby has written a lively and inviting guide to writing poetry for college students. The Knowledge: Where Poems Come From and How to Write Them, utilizes Kirby’s hospitable, inspirational, and expert voice to help students learn the complex, playful, and meditative art form of poetry. The book’s four sections (“How to Write a Poem,” “How to Write a Really Good Poem,” “Immortality is Within Your Grasp,” and “You Graphomaniac, You”) are staggered to gradually build student confidence and skill, and include works from over 70 poets—including Joy Harjo, Terrance Hayes, Marilyn Nelson, Franny Choi, Emily Dickinson, and Natalie Diaz—to illuminate key points and spur student reflection and writing. The Knowledge, writes Kirby, helps students craft poems the way Jimi Hendrix talked about making music—“Learn everything, forget it, and play.” Each chapter is brimming with tips and suggestions for writing great poems, and concludes with summative talking points and dozens of unique prompts to nudge students to contribute to an art form that is “thrumming with life.”