Book Review of How to Write Poetry by Paul B. Janeczko

How To Write Poetry Scholastic Guides
Goodreads Rating: 3.86
Published: 4/1/2001
Page Count: 128
Book URL:
From getting started to the finished product, How to Write Poetry is an essential book for every young poet to own. Paul B. Janeczko, an award-winning poet and compiler of best-selling poetry anthologies for young people, shares his very thorough tips on the art of writing poetry. Where do you get ideas? What are simple poems to write? How do you find just the right word? What pitfalls should you watch out for? These and…
4.0Overall Score
  • Covered Subject
  • Cover Art
  • Impact
  • Organization
  • Pacing
  • Writing

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I have started to read a lot of poetry books, in fact I have NINE unread poetry books waiting for me on my TBR shelf right now. So naturally I’ve become very interested in poetry as a whole. I used to write poetry when I was younger, and would love to get back into it again. However, when I went to my local library I found that there were many books about writing, but very few about writing poetry. One that was currently available was this slim, unassuming book. So I took it home it with me and now that I’ve read it, I’m really glad I did!

Quick Review

  • How to Write Poetry has good solid advice for beginner poetry writers. The text is focused on idea generation and form, and less about technical stucture.
  • This book covers all of the basics of getting started and continuing to write poetry, including tools, place, time, pitfalls to avoid and plenty of exercises.
  • There are many exercises included in each chapter for you to explore different types of poetry. These sections are preceded by explanations, examples, and tips and tricks to write each type of poetry, ending with the exercise.
  • Janeczko gives great advice about starting a writing journal (or any journal), including ideas to get you started and keep you going.

If I had to describe this book in two words: accessible and helpful.

In Depth Review

How to Write Poetry is a very easy to understand poetry book that clearly outlines different types of poetry, literary techniques, and gives straightforward exercises for you to practice writing yourself.

The book is split into five chapters: Getting Ready, Starting To Write, Writing Poems That Rhyme, Writing Free Verse Poems and When Your Poem Is Finished. As you can see the book covers writing a poem from start to finish, including choosing your supplies to getting your poem published, and everything in between. It really is a great overview about basic poetry writing.

Overall I would say this is a solid, helpful little starter guide if you’ve ever wanted to write poetry. I would highly recommend it.

What I Learned

My takeaway from How to Write Poetry is that anyone can write poetry, even good poetry, with proper practice and dedication.



  • Good, solid advice for beginners that is easy to follow.
  • Covers beginner and easy to understand forms of poetry, breaking them down comprehensibly.
  • Gives accessible exercises that directly builds on the information given.


  • This book is only an introduction with basic information to get you started and keep you practicing. For a formal and technical understanding, further reading and research would be necessary.
  • Does not address the technical aspects of poetry writing, or structure of writing, grammar, etc. much.

Book Look

  • The book is small, about the size of a splayed hand, and very thin at only 128 pages.
  • The cover is a basic old school stock art photo of a green toned lake with trees and grass (the book was published in 1999, so it fit the times).
  • The pages are a very nice, heavy, semi-gloss paper that is easy to grip and very sturdy.
  • The font is a standard, medium sized serif that is very easy to read.
  • How to Write Poetry has five chapters, with nice broken out and easy to follow sections. The exercises are easy to find and follow with break out “Try This” headings. Teaching sections called “Poetcraft” that are broken out with subheadings and a green background. Last there are grey block sections called “Writing Tip from a Poet” with helpful tips from other writers.
  • There are no illustrations or drawings.

NOTE: I read a softcover copy of the book that I checked out at my local library.

Favorite Quotes

“Writing poetry gives you the chance to fall in love with language again and again.”
Paul Janeczko

“Poetry is a secret kingdom. If you engage all your senses – seeing, touching, listening, smelling, and tasting, the gates open. Seemingly unimportant things begin to speak…Details are the beginnings of poetry and the doors to your kingdom.”
Paul Janeczko

Musical Suggestions

I enjoyed this book while listening to the playlist “springtime stroll” by Reilly on Spotify.

Learn More About How to Write Poetry

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