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The 6.5 Practices of Moderately Successful Poets: A Self-Help Memoir Paperback – Mar 20 2012

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 225 pages
  • Publisher: Sarabande Books (March 20 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1936747278
  • ISBN-13: 978-1936747276
  • Product Dimensions: 13.7 x 2 x 21.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 272 g
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,365,786 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


"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

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.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa7841c30) out of 5 stars 8 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa764527c) out of 5 stars For Artists of All Kinds July 16 2012
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
This is a great book. Skinner writes about being a poet, but his stories and suggestions fit with any type of writer or artist. Rather than taking itself too seriously, the book was written with a sense of humor. Yet, like all humor, there is a lot of truth in the book as well. Some of the lists alone are worth the price of the book. Some of the best chapters encourage the reader to find a poetry (or painter, or musician) companion, to discipline yourself, and to make use of everything. I couldn't wait to get up in the morning and read this book. I highly recommend it. I've even quoted from the book in a blog post or two.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa7645264) out of 5 stars Distilled Truths Aug. 28 2012
By Ohioan - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a very good book, an inspiration to all aspiring poets and even to writers in general. In easy-to-read, humorous accounts of his life as a child, a student, and a professor of poetry, Skinner summarizes the "6.5" practices of, as he calls them, "moderately successful poets." That is: not geniuses, not off-the-scale talent, but ordinary people who, if they have a poetry flame inside, can nurture it and live by it. The 6.5 practices range from the first (and possibly the most important), which can be summarized as Protect Your Talent, to the last, Take the Long View.

Each of the practices Skinner lists is of great importance to a writer, and each is presented in such a casual, just-talking kind of manner that the truth of what the author says shines through. His anecdotes, particularly the ones from his days as a security guard, are interesting and intriguing, even. But they're also a bit frustrating to read because in a few cases it seems as if more, not less, is called for. In the chapter on Makes Use, for example, we're given the story of Bobby the Ape (a man, not an ape), and although the story seems unrelated to anything that came before in the book or anything that comes after, it's clear that the story must be there as an example of a poet "making use" of everything that has happened to him or her, everything he or she has experienced. While as a reader I can intellectually understand that Jeffrey Skinner must have made use of the experience of knowing Bobby the Ape, I as a reader also yearn to see an example of HOW he made use of this material. Was it in an entire poem? A stanza? A line? A word choice, even? Surely the writer knows how he made use of it, else how could he put it in the book as an example of making use? In general, I think this book would be even better it it contained some poetry in addition to the one poem by Thomas Hardy that it does contain, and if that poetry illustrated the point the author was making.

My other complaint about the book is that a little bit of the author's humorous sidebars (letters to the editor, Pre-MFA Quiz) goes a long way. These sidebars are so long that they cease being funny and seem to exist only to give the book more pages.

But my objections are minor in comparison to the worth of the book. If you are a poet and need inspiration to continue writing poetry, read this book. If you're a writer with whom the world is too much late and soon, and need to know that others have trod the writing path and can point out the serpentine trails, the box canyons, the quiet brooks, and the resting places, read this book -- you will welcome it as a thirsty traveler welcomes water.
HASH(0xa7858e40) out of 5 stars Great read! The points strike me as being spot on, but what do I know, as a non-poet? Feb. 21 2016
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I gave it as a gift to a poet friend, who loved it.
Of course, I couldn't resist reading it first, so I did, taking care not to open the book wide enough that its "used" status might be detected.
(For those inclined to this sort of thing, hardcovers are better).
As for the book, it's an excellent and extremely funny item. The points strike me as being spot on, but what do I know, as a non-poet?
Great read.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xb30f0924) out of 5 stars Best Poetry Class Ever Oct. 3 2012
By Susan Bower Carter - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Part memoir - part instruction - alllll right. I have learned more about poetry---more about thinking about poetry, more about enjoying poetry than I have from any other class ever. Jeffrey Skinner died earlier this year. I wish I could have written him to say what a good writer he is, period, whether poetry or prose. His description of working for his father is fabulous. Read the chapter called "The Background Check." You feel how he felt. He taught me how to read a poem. He introduced me to poets I had heard of, but never met: Rilke, Elizabeth Bishop, and more. He's giving me the courage to write poetry.[[ASIN:B00761XNHS The 6.5 Practices of Moderately Successful Poets: A Self-Help Memoir (The Writer's Studio)] is a wonderful book.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa76648f4) out of 5 stars Title draws a lower-rung poet in Aug. 15 2013
By P. Laster - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I saw a review or an ad for this book in a NYTimes Book Review that my son sent me, so I ordered it. None of the other reviewers mentioned the "6.5 Practices of Moderately Successful Poets," so I will: 1. Protects Talent; 2. Finds the liminal place; 3. Makes use; 4. Discipline (self); 5. Finds poetry companion; 6. Ambitious for the work; 6.5 Takes the long view. Each "practice" has sub-subjects in small sensible humorous essays, with the message that poets not get too caught up in themselves/ their ideas of poetry per se or poetry as a career. As is my wont, I underlined many sentences/phrases that resonated with me. This is a good volume to keep you grounded in reality while practicing your poetry. Recommended.