Fletcher, Ralph. Poetry Matters: writing a poem from the inside out. Harper Collins, 2002. ISBN 0066235995. $15.89. 142 pp. Reviewer: Donna Cardon Reading Level: Intermediate; Rating: Excellent; Genre: Contemporary realistic poetry; Subject: Poetry authorship--Juvenile literature; Creative writing--Juvenile literature; Books--Reviews; How does one learn to write poetry? This is the question Fletcher attempts to answer in this readable volume. He divides the task, and the book, into two parts, "Lighting the Spark" which covers the writing process up to the first draft, and "Nurturing the Flame" which explains how to rewrite, edit and improve poems. Each part contains several chapters and each chapter includes examples of good and bad poems. These examples come from Fletcher's own poems, the poetry of other noted authors and poems written by children. Fletcher includes three chapters that are interviews with noted poets Kristine O'Connell George, Janet S. Wong and J. Patrick Lewis. He finishes the book with an extensive list of "Recommended Poetry Books." Fletcher's writing style is natural and engaging. He does a good job of keeping his discussion on a child's level without being condescending. He does not shy away from mentioning difficult literary terms, but explains them clearly within the text. Fletcher has a bias toward free verse poetry and only touches lightly on more technical forms. For examples of a variety of poetry forms try Fly with Poetry: an ABC of Poetry (Boyds Mills Press, 2000) but for a general introduction to poetry writing , this is a good choice.
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