Click Image to Visit the Pecan Grove Press Web Page for Poetry from Paradise Valley


Poetry From Paradise Valley

Pecan Grove Press has released an anthology of poems, a sampling of works published in Valparaiso Poetry Review during its first decade, from the original 1999-2000 volume to the 2009-2010 volume.

Poetry from Paradise Valley includes a stellar roster of 50 poets. Among the contributors are a former Poet Laureate of the United States, a winner of the Griffin International Prize, two Pulitzer Prize winners, two National Book Award winners, two National Book Critics Circle winners, six finalists for the National Book Award, four finalists for the National Book Critics Circle Award, two finalists for the Pulitzer Prize, and a few dozen recipients of other honors, such as fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, etc.

Readers are encouraged to visit the Poetry from Paradise Valley page at the publisher's web site, where ordering information about the book can be found.

Best Books of Indiana 2011: Finalist. Judges' Citation: "Poetry from Paradise Valley is an excellent anthology that features world-class poetry, including the work of many artists from the Midwest, such as Jared Carter, Annie Finch, David Baker, and Allison Joseph. It’s an eclectic and always interesting collection where poems on similar themes flow into each other. It showcases the highest caliber of U. S. poetry."
—Indiana Center for the Book, Indiana State Library

Friday, August 27, 2010

Walt McDonald: “Advice I Wish I’d Been Told”

As the new school year begins, I will be sharing pointers by various authors with my beginning poetry writing students. Walt McDonald’s “Advice I Wish I’d Been Told” will be one of the readings I recommend. This essay was published in the initial issue of Valparaiso Poetry Review during the fall of 1999.

Among his suggestions to novice poets, McDonald presents the following: “Appeal to the senses; give specifics, details, for intensity. Open our eyes to the splendors of your imagination; delight us. A poem is not an ink blot. Therefore, go beyond first drafts; don’t send off poems that read like general statements, whether rhymed or not. Try to spot in your own writing the clichés, the easy message. Learn well the difference in power between general statements and specific details, between weak abstractions that tell us and vivid images that shake up the senses.”

Much of the counsel McDonald offers seems to contain practical tips usually needed by inexperienced poets, especially those who might lack confidence their detailed imagery and descriptive language will supply readers with enough of a message or will invite a significant degree of interest about the topics explored within the poetry. As McDonald indicates, he believes an imaginative, vivid rendering of actions or objects will almost naturally lead to an accurate intellectual and emotional understanding of the experience depicted in the poem.

Like Captain Barbossa in Pirates of the Caribbean, who declared “the pirate’s code is more what you'd call ‘guidelines’ than actual rules,” McDonald ephasizes: “There are no rules” to writing poetry. Yet, he does give guidelines he has found useful throughout decades of producing poems, and he identifies compelling characteristics he has witnessed in works written by those poets he has admired most.

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