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The 6.5 Practices of Moderately Successful Poets: A Self-Help Memoir (Paperback)
“Revision is the process a poem endures to become its best self.” Skinner’s grab-bag of wisdom for poets with various levels of experience has a conversational tone and helpful, encouraging advice on large-picture issues—including MFA programs, “po-biz”, and how to cultivate discipline and a healthy view toward one’s poetry—as well as the finer points involved in the life of poetry. I appreciate the way he candidly interweaves his life experiences, including his divorce and his past career as a private eye, using them to illuminate the poetry writing process. I marked numerous passages that shed light on my life as a poet and poetry teacher: “Revision is the process poets endure to become their best poems.” ~ John— From John
A private eye turned moderately successful poet leads readers on a satiric, hopeful tour of how to make a life in the arts, while still having a life. Revealing, hilarious, and peppered with sly takes on the ins and outs of contemporary American poetry (chapters include "The Silence of the Iambs," "The Revisionarium, Ask Dr. Frankenpoem," and "The Periodic Table of Poetic Elements"), Jeffrey Skinner offers advice, candor, and wit.
"Revision is the process a poem endures to become its best self.
Or, if you are the poet, you are the process a poem endures to become its best self."
Endures "because a first draft, like all other objects in the universe, has inertia and would prefer to stay where it is. The poet must not collaborate.
Best" self "because the poem is more like a person than a thing, and does not strenuously object to personification."
"But let's not get carried away. It's your poem and you can treat it as you wish; sweet talk it; push it around if that's what it takes. Alfred Hitchcock notoriously said of the actors in his movies, "They are cattle.""
Jeffrey Skinner is the author of five books of poetry, most recently "Salt Water Amnesia" (Ausable Press, 2005). His poems have appeared in "The New Yorker," "The Atlantic," "The Nation," "The American Poetry Review," "Poetry," "BOMB," and "The Paris Review," and his work has earned awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, The Ingram Merrill Foundation, and the Howard Foundation.
About the Author
Jeffrey Skinner is the author of five books of poetry, most recently "Salt Water Amnesia" (Ausable Press, 2005), and two anthologies of poems, "Last Call: Poems on Alcoholism, Addiction, and Deliverance"; and "Passing the Word: Poets and Their Mentors." Poems have appeared in "The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The Nation, The American Poetry Review, Poetry, BOMB," and "The Paris Review," and his poems, plays and stories have gathered grants, fellowships, and awards from such sources as the National Endowment for the Arts, The Ingram Merrill Foundation, the Howard Foundation, and the state arts agencies of Connecticut, Delaware, and Kentucky.
"Skinner’s book takes advantage of its unusual format to convey fun, unexpected content. 'Love of poems by others x Resistance to influence = Style' sounds like something Susan Sontag might have written in her journals… After writing five full-length collections of his own poems, editing countless collections by others through his work as a founding publisher of the influential small press Sarabande Books… Skinner leaves no doubt that his love of the art is no infatuation. In addition to being a self-help, how-to and confession, The 6.5 Practices of Moderately Successful Poets is also—and perhaps most of all—a moving portrait of a marriage."—New York Times
"Jeffrey Skinner, author of five books of poems, has penned a hilarious yet moving 'self-help memoir.' Skinner, more than a 'moderately successful' poet, has been published in Poetry, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, and other prestigious journals. In this facetious yet spot-on directive, he points out the pitfalls of pursuing accolades in lieu of art."
—Kelly Fordon, Boston Review
"From the title of the book and chapters, from his half-goofy top ten lists and his letters to Dr. Frankenpoet section, I knew he was out to have some fun, but when Skinner writes about what poets must do and be prepared for, he sometimes exceeds the predictable answers."
"When he speaks about the craft of poetry, we are wise to listen."
—Frederick Smock, The Courier-Journal