100 books like How to Grow Your Own Poem

By Kate Clanchy,

Here are 100 books that How to Grow Your Own Poem fans have personally recommended if you like How to Grow Your Own Poem. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

Mechal Renee Roe Author Of I'm Growing Great

From my list on expanding your inner vision and allowing life to rush in.

Who am I?

My name is Mechal Roe and I have loved creating fun and colorful art to inspire the inner child in all of us. I began my journey in children's print design and worked my way up to Clothing Designer. It was quite rewarding, and I learned so much. After, I left to create a children's book and toys to serve underrepresented youth. Creating the book was a form of introspection to move me along my heart's path. It was also a gift to those young ones who also struggle with understanding themselves in the world. 

Mechal's book list on expanding your inner vision and allowing life to rush in

Mechal Renee Roe Why did Mechal love this book?

I recommend this book because I have found that creativity is on its own wavelength, and some days I have to work harder than others to find its harmonious rhythm. Some days the flow state is easy to glide on, and other days I find myself creating impractical methods to achieve the same results. This was until I discovered this book.

Lamont suggests breaking up the tasks into bite-size pieces and giving your whole self to the smaller tasks at hand. My confidence increases with each completed smaller task, and I end up having an enjoyable day.

I'm grateful Lamont wrote this book, as the creative process can sometimes get stalled with inefficient practices. Moving towards my finished projects reading this book has been the most productive practice so far.

By Anne Lamott,

Why should I read it?

14 authors picked Bird by Bird as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • An essential volume for generations of writers young and old. The twenty-fifth anniversary edition of this modern classic will continue to spark creative minds for years to come. Anne Lamott is "a warm, generous, and hilarious guide through the writer’s world and its treacherous swamps" (Los Angeles Times). 

“Superb writing advice…. Hilarious, helpful, and provocative.” —The New York Times Book Review

For a quarter century, more than a million readers—scribes and scribblers of all ages and abilities—have been inspired by Anne Lamott’s hilarious, big-hearted, homespun advice. Advice that begins with the simple words of wisdom…


Book cover of On Writers And Writing

Harriet Griffey Author Of Write Every Day: Daily Practice to Kickstart Your Creative Writing

From my list on by writers on writing.

Why this topic?

Where do writers go for distraction? For me it’s usually into the work of other writers and, when I’m done escaping into fiction, I turn to nonfiction and particularly those writers who write about writing. Why? Because it helps refresh my own writing to read those writing with clarity, insight, and coherence when my own process is in danger of fragmenting. What’s more, many writers write so well about the components of writing - voice, structure, narrative or even something as prosaic as getting started - that I am reassured about what I’m trying to do with my own writing.

Harriet's book list on by writers on writing

Harriet Griffey Why did Harriet love this book?

Atwood’s reputation speaks for itself, but what I love about this book is that it’s derived from a series of six lectures that she gave at Cambridge University in 2000. And because lectures are delivered in person it’s like having a conversation (albeit one-way) with their writer. This is a witty, occasionally self-deprecating, erudite but also pragmatic and accessible book, and all in her inimitable voice. You discover about the process of Atwood’s own writing but also that of other writers, so while it’s quite personal, it’s also wide-ranging and inclusive.

By Margaret Atwood,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked On Writers And Writing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

By the author of THE HANDMAID'S TALE and ALIAS GRACE

What is the role of the writer? Prophet? High Priest of Art? Court Jester? Or witness to the real world? Looking back on her own childhood and the development of her writing career, Margaret Atwood examines the metaphors which writers of fiction and poetry have used to explain - or excuse! - their activities, looking at what costumes they have seen fit to assume, what roles they have chosen to play. In her final chapter she takes up the challenge of the book's title: if a writer is to be…


Book cover of The Writer's Voice

Harriet Griffey Author Of Write Every Day: Daily Practice to Kickstart Your Creative Writing

From my list on by writers on writing.

Why this topic?

Where do writers go for distraction? For me it’s usually into the work of other writers and, when I’m done escaping into fiction, I turn to nonfiction and particularly those writers who write about writing. Why? Because it helps refresh my own writing to read those writing with clarity, insight, and coherence when my own process is in danger of fragmenting. What’s more, many writers write so well about the components of writing - voice, structure, narrative or even something as prosaic as getting started - that I am reassured about what I’m trying to do with my own writing.

Harriet's book list on by writers on writing

Harriet Griffey Why did Harriet love this book?

Talking of voice, finding your writer’s voice lies in the confidence that comes from effort and application. Alvarez was a poet, writer, critic, and poetry editor at The Observer newspaper in the 1960s, where he nourished the writing of Sylvia Plath and others. When you think of your favourite writers it’s usually their voice that grabs and sustains interest and trying to figure out your own, as a writer, can take time. Playing with other voices, trying them on for size, making one your own, is something Alvarez explores through his own insights about the work of Plath, Yeats, Jean Rhys, Freud, and others.

By A. Alvarez,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Writer's Voice as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'For a writer, voice is a problem that never lets you go, and I have thought about it for as long as I can remember - if for no other reason than that a writer doesn't properly begin until he has a voice of his own.' What makes good writing good? In his brilliant new book, Al Alvarez argues that it is the development of the voice - voice as distinct from style - that makes a writer great. A poet as well as a critic, Al Alvarez approaches his subject both as an informed observer and an insider. Here…


Book cover of The Art of Description: World Into Word

Harriet Griffey Author Of Write Every Day: Daily Practice to Kickstart Your Creative Writing

From my list on by writers on writing.

Why this topic?

Where do writers go for distraction? For me it’s usually into the work of other writers and, when I’m done escaping into fiction, I turn to nonfiction and particularly those writers who write about writing. Why? Because it helps refresh my own writing to read those writing with clarity, insight, and coherence when my own process is in danger of fragmenting. What’s more, many writers write so well about the components of writing - voice, structure, narrative or even something as prosaic as getting started - that I am reassured about what I’m trying to do with my own writing.

Harriet's book list on by writers on writing

Harriet Griffey Why did Harriet love this book?

“It sounds like a simple thing, to say what you see.” So begins the poet Doty’s short book on the art of description. The art of something implies subtlety and skill, and Doty explores ideas around uncertainty, figuration, attentiveness, and those habits of conscious observation and specificity that improve description. If this sounds dull it is not, because there’s a subjectivity about Doty’s own prose that draws you in. What’s more (and I’m going to cheat a little here) if it turns out that you love Doty’s prose as I do, there’s another book by him, Still Life With Oysters and Lemon about the painting by Jan Davidz de Heem on view at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, that will enchant you further.

By Mark Doty,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Art of Description as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

How a writer moves perception to image to written world is at the heart of any literary work. Here, celebrated writer and poet Mark Doty closely examines this essential literary technique and how it varies from writer to writer. Drawing on the sensory experience found in the poems of Blake, Whitman, Bishop and others, Doty gives an insight into this essential craft. Written in clear chapter essays, his book is an invaluable resource for writers, students, critics and anyone with an interest in the art of literature.


Book cover of Finding What You Didn't Lose: Expressing Your Truth and Creativity Through Poem-Making

G. Elizabeth Kretchmer Author Of Writing Through the Muck: Finding Self and Story for Personal Growth, Healing, and Transcendence

From my list on to get you writing.

Who am I?

As a published author with an MFA in Writing, I know how hard writing can be in terms of how to find a muse, employ an elusive craft, and deal with the soul-shaking consequences of digging deep. But as a survivor of life, including multiple moves, broken relationships, alcoholism, illness, and debilitating grief, I've also experienced the transformative power of writing. I took that belief into the community, and developed writing workshops for cancer survivors, women facing domestic violence, and many other people wrestling with trauma and illness, often recommending some of these books in my workshops. And along the way, I’ve witnessed time and again what the written word can do. 

G.'s book list on to get you writing

G. Elizabeth Kretchmer Why did G. love this book?

This is one of those gems that can easily get lost in the literary shuffle. Poet-teacher John Fox gets into the craft of writing poetry in Finding What You Didn’t Lose, but it’s not one of those dry books that will get you all tangled up worrying about your iambic pentameters. Instead, he takes you on a beautiful journey, showing how such useful tools as imagery, sound, metaphor, and rhythm can help you express yourself. Quotes and poetry excerpts round out the rich content of this book.

Book cover of The Spider's Thread: Metaphor in Mind, Brain, and Poetry

Paul Thagard Author Of Balance: How It Works and What It Means

From my list on metaphor.

Who am I?

I became interested in metaphor and analogy as a graduate student in philosophy of science in the 1970s. Important scientific ideas such as natural selection and the wave theories of sound and light were built from metaphors and made to work by analogical thinking. In the 1980s, I started building computational models of analogy. So when I got interested in balance because of a case of vertigo in 2016, I naturally noticed the abundance of balance metaphors operating in science and everyday life. Once the pandemic hit, I was struck by the prevalence of the powerful metaphor of making public health decisions while balancing lives and livelihoods. 

Paul's book list on metaphor

Paul Thagard Why did Paul love this book?

In the 1980s and 1990s, Keith Holyoak and I collaborated on a series of articles and books about analogy, which is the underpinning of complex metaphors. His new book is a delightfully insightful discussion of metaphors in poetry, drawing not only on his deep knowledge of cognitive psychology but also on his experience as a highly published poet. Through analysis of great poems by Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, and many others, he illuminates how metaphors contribute to beautiful poems and to creativity in general.  

By Keith J. Holyoak,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Spider's Thread as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An examination of metaphor in poetry as a microcosm of the human imagination—a way to understand the mechanisms of creativity.

In The Spider's Thread, Keith Holyoak looks at metaphor as a microcosm of the creative imagination. Holyoak, a psychologist and poet, draws on the perspectives of thinkers from the humanities—poets, philosophers, and critics—and from the sciences—psychologists, neuroscientists, linguists, and computer scientists. He begins each chapter with a poem—by poets including Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Sylvia Plath, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Theodore Roethke, Du Fu, William Butler Yeats, and Pablo Neruda—and then widens the discussion to broader notions of metaphor…


Book cover of This Craft of Verse

Keith J. Holyoak Author Of The Spider's Thread: Metaphor in Mind, Brain, and Poetry

From my list on the creative mind.

Who am I?

I’m a professor of cognitive psychology at UCLA, and also a poet. Growing up on a dairy farm in British Columbia, I immersed myself in the world of books. My mother showed me her well-worn copy of a poetry book written by her Scottish great-great-aunt, and I longed to create my own arrangements of words. Later, as a student at the University of British Columbia and then Stanford, my interest in creativity was channeled into research on how people think. I’ve studied how people use analogies and metaphors to create new ideas. In addition to books on the psychology of thinking and reasoning, I’ve written several volumes of poetry.

Keith's book list on the creative mind

Keith J. Holyoak Why did Keith love this book?

If you love Borges, and thought you’d read everything he wrote, this is the book for you—a collection of his “lost lectures,” delivered at Harvard in 1967-68 and finally published in 2000. And if you want to hear the actual voice of a creative genius, as if risen from the dead, the recordings are also available. Best known for his intricate short stories and essays, Borges was also—perhaps foremost—a poet. As he puts it in the book, “The central fact of my life has been the existence of words and the possibility of weaving those words into poetry.” Starting from the creation of poems, Borges explores the creation of metaphors, meaning, and life’s irreducible mystery.

By Jorge Luis Borges,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked This Craft of Verse as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Available in cloth, paper, or audio CD

Through a twist of fate that the author of Labyrinths himself would have relished, these lost lectures given in English at Harvard in 1967-1968 by Jorge Luis Borges return to us now, a recovered tale of a life-long love affair with literature and the English language. Transcribed from tapes only recently discovered, This Craft of Verse captures the cadences, candor, wit, and remarkable erudition of one of the most extraordinary and enduring literary voices of the twentieth century. In its wide-ranging commentary and exquisite insights, the book stands as a deeply personal yet…


Book cover of Nineteen Ways of Looking at Wang Wei

Christof Koch Author Of The Feeling of Life Itself: Why Consciousness Is Widespread But Can't Be Computed

From my list on consciousness from a neuroscientist.

Who am I?

I am a neuroscientist best known for my studies and writings exploring the brain basis of consciousness. Trained as a physicist, I was for 27 years a professor of biology and engineering at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena before moving to the Allen Institute in Seattle, where I became the Chief Scientist and then the President in 2015. I published my first paper on the neural correlates of consciousness with the molecular biologist Francis Crick more than thirty years ago.

Christof's book list on consciousness from a neuroscientist

Christof Koch Why did Christof love this book?

An extraordinary gem of a booklet that considers the many ways that four lines of a single poem, composed by an 8th century Chinese Buddhist, have been translated into modern idiom. It is amazing how a mere twenty ideograms, depicting a mountain and forest scene devoid of people, can illuminate the variety and subtlety of consciousness. I recommend the 2016 edition with additional translations.

By Eliot Weinberg,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Nineteen Ways of Looking at Wang Wei as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The difficulty (and necessity) of translation is concisely described in Nineteen Ways of Looking at Wang Wei, a close reading of different translations of a single poem from the Tang Dynasty-from a transliteration to Kenneth Rexroth's loose interpretation. As Octavio Paz writes in the afterword, "Eliot Weinberger's commentary on the successive translations of Wang Wei's little poem illustrates, with succinct clarity, not only the evolution of the art of translation in the modern period but at the same time the changes in poetic sensibility."


Book cover of Water Sings Blue

Lisa Kahn Schnell Author Of High Tide for Horseshoe Crabs

From my list on water and the amazing creatures that live there.

Who am I?

I spent long days at the beach as a kid, and sharp bits of horseshoe crab shells in my sandcastles were a frequent annoyance. As an adult, I discovered a horseshoe crab lurching its way back to the water and wondered: What's the deal with this weird animal? To find out, I read books, talked with scientists, and assisted with horseshoe crab and shorebird research. What I discovered—about horseshoe crabs, other animals, and the water they live in—was too amazing to keep to myself. I hope my book encourages kids to go out and explore wild places, too!

Lisa's book list on water and the amazing creatures that live there

Lisa Kahn Schnell Why did Lisa love this book?

To me, this book feels like a walk along the beach. I pick up each poem, sink into the swirls and splashes of color, and let my mind wander. Books that encourage such meandering strolls near the ocean have a special place in my heart: the idea for my horseshoe crab book started on just such a walk. Water Sings Blue is a great reminder that you never know what wonders you will discover when you go outside and let your curiosity guide you. 

By Kate Coombs, Meilo So (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Water Sings Blue as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Come down to the shore with this rich and vivid celebration of the ocean! With gorgeous watercolors by award-winning artist Meilo So and lyrical, playful poems by Kate Coombs, The Water Sings Blue evokes the beauty and power, the depth and mystery, and the endless resonance of the sea.


Book cover of The Complete Poems of A. R. Ammons: Volume 1 1955-1977

Brett Bourbon Author Of Everyday Poetics: Logic, Love, and Ethics

From my list on the ethics and art of getting lost and being found.

Who am I?

Poems irritated me as a child. They seemed parodies of counting, chants of rhythm, and repetition. I included them in my moratorium against reading fiction. On the other hand, I respected the alphabet, a kind of poem of pure form. It was orderly for no good reason and didn't mean anything. So I concluded that poems were meaningless forms that had their uses, but were not serious. I changed my mind, but it took a while—studying math and science, theology, and then philosophy and literature. I'm now a professor who studies and teaches modern literature and philosophy. I got my Ph.D. from Harvard, became a professor at Stanford, and teach at the University of Dallas.

Brett's book list on the ethics and art of getting lost and being found

Brett Bourbon Why did Brett love this book?

I could suggest any number of poems and poets of our everyday fate of being lost and found. But for me the modern poet who best integrates the eye seeing with the mind questioning is the great A.R. Ammons.

I have listed just Volume 1 of his collected poems, but I also recommend Volume 2. He writes out of a consciousness that poems are found and shaped out of a life of observation, effort, and passion.

By A. R. Ammons, Robert M. West (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Complete Poems of A. R. Ammons as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A.R. Ammons produced some of the twentieth century's most innovative and enduring poetry, collected here for the first time in its entirety. Volume I follows Ammons's development through his National Book Award-winning Collected Poems 1951-1971 and his daring work of the 1970s. The second volume rounds out Ammons's rich middle phase and startling later work, including the posthumously published Bosh and Flapdoodle.

The Complete Poems of A.R. Ammons offers authoritative texts of every published poem and includes over one hundred previously uncollected poems by "unquestionably among the best-loved poets of our time" (David Lehman).


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