Making Poems

Forty Poems with Commentary by the Poets

Edited by Todd F. Davis & Erin Murphy

Subjects: Poetry, American Literature, Literature, Composition And Rhetoric Studies
Series: Excelsior Editions
Imprint: Excelsior Editions
Paperback : 9781438431765, 218 pages, February 2010
Hardcover : 9781438431758, 218 pages, February 2010

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents

Learning to Make Poems—An Introduction
Red Sugar
Finding Red Sugar
Jan Beatty
Man of the Year
Strange Tercets: Merry Men, Iambic Feet, and Poetic Transgression
Robin Becker
Knot Tying Lessons: The Slip Knot
The Knot of the Poem
Fleda Brown
Brother André’s Heart: Montreal, 2003
Tenebrae: Living In/Among Shadows
J. L. Conrad
Factory Jungle
OK for Shipment
Jim Daniels
Loving the Flesh
The Body of Poetry
Todd Davis
Elegy with Fall’s Last Filaments
On “Elegy with Fall’s Last Filaments”
Chris Dombrowski
To W. S. Merwin
Translating My Way into a Poem
Dan Gerber
Contemplation with Ledges and Moon
Writing into the Evening
Jeff Gundy
On “Pink”
Kimiko Hahn
From the Out-There
William Heyen
Awash with blushing textures, your hips, lipped lilies
There Is No Avoiding
H. L. Hix
Shut Up & Dance
John Hoppenthaler
Sonnets for the Amish Girls of Nickel Mines
Every Buggy Has Four Wheels: Making “Sonnets for the Amish Girls of Nickel Mines”
Ann Hostetler
Double the Digits
Memory and the Problem of What Really Happened
Julia Spicher Kasdorf
Borges at the Northside Rotary
The Deliberate Transformed by the Accidental
David Kirby
Clown Baby’s Summer
The Natural Birth of Clown Baby, or How I Came to Midwife, Father, and Wet-nurse a Prose Poem Sequence
The Conception of Clown Baby
Gerry LaFemina
Up Late with Loons
Making Peace
Mary Linton
The Biography of a Poem
Shara McCallum
The Poem Stripped Bare by Her Author
Dinty W. Moore
Coveting Thy Neighbor’s Poem
Mary Rose O’Reilley The Third Winter
The Wild Horse
Erin Murphy
Anything Worthwhile
Lee Peterson
Orpheus, Gathering the Trees
In the Woodlot
Greg Rappleye
An Essay with Two Short Lectures: Revising “Sunday”
Keith Ratzlaff
Repairing the Hous
The Poem and I Have a Little Conversation
Jack Ridl
Coming Out of Caliban
Are You Watching?
Steven Sherrill
Revising My Memoirs
Cutting Logic Loose from Its Tethers
David Shumate
Christopher Street Pier (Summer)
Against Solitude
Aaron Smith
On “Blood”
Lucien Stryk
Hot Pads, Cold Pads
On the Writing of “Hot Pads, Cold Pads”
Mary Swander
Fishing on the Merrimack, My Father Sees a B-24
Prisoner of War
From Sunday Supplement to Sonnet
Sequence: A Poet’s Gift to Herself
Sue Ellen Thompson
Natasha Trethewey
At the Farmer’s Market in Eugene
In a Country at War
Brian Turner
The Weak Already Inherited
Lee Upton
Revisiting the Anniversary: A Ghost Story
G. C. Waldrep
The Eccentric Discipline
Michael Waters
Wesley Leaving
Leaving to Find Place in the Making of a Poem
Patricia Jabbeh
How Flatterers Must Be Shunned
The Prince’s Almond Trees: “How Flatterers Must Be Shunned”
Katharine Whitcomb
A Lock of Her Hair
The Charm by Which I Meant to Bring Her Back
Robert Wrigley
Contributor’s Notes


Contemporary poets offer behind-the-scenes perspectives on the poetic process.


This diverse collection of poems and companion essays by forty nationally and internationally known poets allows readers to experience the creative process through the eyes and voice of each poet. No matter how often we are told that revision is an essential component of poetic composition, it can be difficult to resist the temptation to think of the poem as having sprung spontaneously, Athena-like, from the writer's head. By exposing readers to the finished product as well as the poet's own account of the poem's creation, Making Poems offers a behind-the-scenes perspective on the poetic process that will fascinate both beginning and established writers. The book also affords poetry instructors an opportunity to demonstrate to their students the ways in which poems can originate from seemingly mundane and unlikely sources.