How to be a Poet is the brainchild of poet Jo Bell and editor Jane Commane.


As a natural follow-on to the 52 Project of 2014, this project aims to help poets taking the next step in developing, working and participating in the wider creative community as a writer.

How to be a Poet combines practical advice and topical mini-essays that examine both the technical and creative dimensions of being a poet. It’s a Haynes manual where we’ve replaced the spanners with lots of ink, elbow grease and edits. At each step, we ask plenty of questions – what makes a poem tick over perfectly, how do we get it started when it stalls, and which warning lights should you never ignore?

Aimed at both new and more established poets, we hope there will be plenty for everyone here. And we’re looking forward to what our special guest contributors will have to add, also.

The How to be a Poet handbook will be published in its full form in July 2017 by Nine Arches Press.


To see what we’ve been writing about most recently, visit our most recent posts


About the Authors:

Jo Bell was born in Sheffield and grew up on the fringes of the Derbyshire Peak District, leaving school just after the Miners’ Strike. She became an industrial archaeologist, specialising in coal and lead mines. A winner of the Charles Causley Prize and the Manchester Cathedral Prize, she is now the Canal Laureate for the UK appointed by the Poetry Society and the Canal & River Trust. She lives on a narrowboat on the English waterways. Kith (Nine Arches Press) is Jo Bell’s second collection of poems.



Jane Commane was born in Coventry and lives in Warwickshire. She is Editor at Nine Arches Press and Co-editor of Under the Radar magazine, and a creative writing tutor and mentor. Her poetry has been published in Iota, Tears in the Fence, The Morning Star, And Other Poems, Proletarian Poetry and in anthologies including The Best British Poetry 2010 (Salt) and Lung Jazz: Young British Poets for Oxfam (Cinnamon). She is currently working on her debut collection of poems.



This is a Nine Arches Press project, made possible with the support of Arts Council England’s Grants for the Arts funding.