Welcome to How to be a Poet

Hello there, fellow reader and writer. Allow us to introduce ourselves and explain what  How to be a Poet is all about….


In 2015, Jo Bell (poet, project-begetter and internaut, author of Kith and founder of the phenomenal 52 Project) and I (Jane Commane – poet, tutor and editor of Nine Arches Press)  got our heads together over a good cup of tea or three to discuss the idea of a project to follow on from 52.

We settled on the idea of How to be a Poet – a very useful handbook which would gather together our combined knowledge from our perspectives as poets and editors, a unique mix of ideas and advice from both sides of the writing and publishing process, as well as some choice essays on a variety of topics from selected poetry experts.

How to be a Poet is a manifesto of sorts. It is an exploration, both practically and creatively, of what it is to write poems, read poems, share poems and publish poetry. It is a guide to writing well, and aims to be bold and upfront about the realities of writing poetry and being a poet in the 21st century. It contains advice, but also a healthy dose of myth-busting, plenty of challenging ideas and some thought-provoking proposals that are designed to stretch both new and more experienced writers of poetry. It won’t pull any punches. It is a Poem-Writers Guide to the Galaxy.

What isn’t How to be a Poet about? It isn’t a step by step fail-safe plan for poetry success. It won’t write the poems for you. It doesn’t aim to make you an award-winning poet by the power of its pages of advice alone, and that’s not what poetry writing is about, anyway. It won’t guarantee it can get your first book of poems published, though that may come to pass as a happy offshoot of helping to making you a better poet more generally. And there will be plenty of thoughts on what exactly that means, and how we can strive to write, read and participate better as poets.

The book, How to be a Poet, will feature our complete essays, and those from our special guest contributors. It will be published in July 2017 by Nine Arches Press.

Hopefully, this first post whets your appetite. Check back in soon for our first mini-essay, in which I will look at why being a Good Reader of poetry matters.

Stay tuned!


One Reply to “Welcome to How to be a Poet”

  1. Sounds a great idea Jo. Will definitely stay tuned. Have given a lot of thought to that question over the years. Been an avid reader and occasional writer of poetry, and in a previous existence put some thoughts together on the issue.

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