English Writing

Creative Writing Program

Instructional Tools

Recommended Books for Writers/ Teachers of Writing

The Write Crowd: Literary Citizenship and the Writing Life

by Lori A. May

Published in 2014 by Bloomsbury

The Write Crowd offers tips and examples of how writers contribute to the literary community, the success of others, and their own well-rounded writing life. 


Kicking in the Wall

by Barbara Abercrombie

Published in 2013 by New World Library

Author and writing instructor Barbara Abercrombie provides a year's worth of writing exercises and prompts, as well as inspiring quotes and examples, to help writers break through the blocks that impede their writing progress


Writing from the Senses: 60 Exercises to Ignite Creativity and Revitalize Your Writing

by Laura Deutsch

Published in 2014 by Shambhala Publications

Writer, editor, and teacher Laura Deutsch offers techniques, exercises, prompts, and examples that focus on honing in on our senses during the writing process to enrich our storytelling skills.


The Crafty Poet: A Portable Workshop

by Diane Lockward

Published in 2013 by Wind Publications

In this resource for poets, Lockward offers practical advice and insights about establishing sound, voice, and syntax in poetry while also providing writing prompts and other poems as inspiration.


Writing Poetry to Save Your Life: How to Find the Courage to Tell Your Stories

by Maria Mazziotti Gillan

Published in 2013 by MiroLand Publishers

The author, a widely published poet and the executive director of the Poetry Center at Passaic County Community College in Paterson, New Jersey, combines her own personal story as a writer with suggestions for writers at all stages of development.


In Praise of Reading and Fiction

by Mario Vargas Llosa

Published in 2011 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Translated by Edith Grossman, In Praise of Reading and Fiction is Peruvian author Mario Vargas Llosa's lecture delivered after he received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2010. Llosa argues for the necessity of literature in our lives today. As he puts it, "literature not only submerges us in the dream of beauty and happiness but alerts us to every kind of oppression."


From Where You Dream: The Process of Writing Fiction

by Robert Olen Butler

Published in 2006 by Grove Press

Based on a series of his lectures, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Robert Olen Butler provides in-depth guidance about how to fully develop one's fiction. Butler's advice stems from his belief that "art does not come from the mind. Art comes from the place where we dream." 


The McSweeney's Book of Poets Picking Poets

by Dominic Luxford, editor

Published in 2007 by McSweeney's Books

In this collection from McSweeney’s Books editor Dominic Luxford chose ten poems from ten different poets, and then asked each of them to contribute an additional poem of his or her own, plus a poem from another poet. That new poet was then asked to do the same. As Luxford writes in the introduction, “The result: ten chains, five poets per chain, two poems per poet—one almighty collection of verse.” With poems by authors such as Elizabeth Alexander, Tina Chang, Mark Doty, Heidi Johannesen Poon, Mary Ruefle, C. D. Wright, and Dean Young, the collaboration offers poetry by a range of older, more accomplished poets as well as by poets at the beginning of their careers and allows readers to discover what each writer values most in both his or her own work and the work of others.


On Looking: Essays

by Lia Purpura

Published in 2006 by Sarabande Books

In this collection of essays, poet Lia Purpura explores the act of observation as it relates the to the writer's endeavor. Purpura is an award-winning writer who teaches at the Rainier Writing Workshop MFA program in Tacoma, Washington.


The Life of Poetry

by Muriel Rukeyser

Published in 1996 by Paris Press

In this American classic, with a foreword by poet Jane Cooper, Muriel Rukeyser explores the promise of poetry as an art form that can help us shape a civil society. 


The Scene Book: A Primer for the Fiction Writer

by Sandra Scofield

Published in 2007 by Penguin

In this practical guide, National Book Award–nominee Sandra Scofield offers straightforward information and exercises designed to help writers write strong scenes in fiction.


The Art of the Poetic Line

by James Logenbach

Published in 2007 by Graywolf Press

In this writing guide, poet James Logenbach explores the qualities that define the poetic line and uses examples of its use in the writing of poets such as Frank Bidart, Emily Dickinson, Marianne Moore, Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams, and C. D. Wright.


A Beautiful Marsupial Afternoon: New (Soma)tics

by CAConrad

Published in 2012 by Wave Books

"I cannot stress enough how much this mechanistic world, as it becomes more and more efficient, resulting in ever increasing brutality, has required me to FIND MY BODY to FIND MY PLANET in order to find my poetry," begins CAConrad in this collection of unorthodox writing exercises meant to upset our perception of everyday life. The poet also includes poems that resulted from the writing exercises featured.


A Kite in the Wind: Fiction Writers on Their Craft

by Andrea Barrett and Peter Turchi, editors

Published in 2011 by Trinity University Press

This anthology features essays by twenty fiction writers, including Charles Baxter, Maud Casey, Lan Samantha Chang, Stacey D'Erasmo, and Kevin McIlvoy, covering narrative distance and voice, character, setting, structure, and more. As the editors write in the introduction, "Writers and readers interested...in contemplation of various aspects of the fiction writer's craft will, we think, find this collection surprising, provocative, and even useful." One hundred percent of the book's royalties go to Friends of Writers, Inc., to provide scholarships for developing writers.


Ambition and Survival: Becoming a Poet

by Christian Wiman

Published in 2007 by Copper Canyon Press

Ambition and Survival is a collection of personal essays and critical prose by Christian Wiman, the editor of Poetry magazine. Wiman recounts his path to becoming a poet, his struggle with a rare form of incurable cancer, and how mortality reignited his religious passions.


Next Word, Better Word: The Craft of Writing Poetry

by Stephen Dobyns

Published in 2011 by Palgrave Macmillan

Author of Best Words, Best Order, Stephen Dobyns offers a helpful framework for creating poetry and navigates contemporary concerns and practices. Dobyns explores the complex relationship between writers and their work, and in the process, demystifies a subtle art form.

More About This Book at: Open LibraryGoodreadsLibraryThing


The Art of Description: World Into Word

by Mark Doty

Published in 2010 by Graywolf Press

In this book-length essay, poet Mark Doty writes about the art of articulating sensory experience. Looking at poems by Blake, Whitman, Bishop, and others, Doty considers the task of saying what you see, and the challenges of rendering experience through language.


The Art of Recklessness: Poetry as an Assertive Force and Contradiction

by Dean Young

Published in 2010 by Graywolf Press

Poet Dean Young explores how recklessness can guide the poet, the artist, and the reader into art in this book-length essay.


A Writer's Workbook: Daily Exercises for the Writing Life

by Caroline Sharp

Published in 2002 by St. Martin’s Griffin

With a foreword by Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert, A Writer’s Workbook is a collection of thirty-two unique writing exercises that offer encouragement and guidance for generating ideas to anyone who writes.


A Poetry Handbook: A Prose Guide to Understanding and Writing Poetry

by Mary Oliver

Published in 1994 by Mariner Books

Poet Mary Oliver tells of the basic ways a poem is built, including meter and rhyme, form and diction, sound and sense. Drawing on poems from Robert Frost, Elizabeth Bishop, and others, Oliver gives clear instruction on how to approach poetry.


Imaginative Writing: The Elements of Craft

by Janet Burroway

Published in 2010 by Longman

Imaginative Writing:  The Elements of Craft explores the craft of creative writing in four genres:  fiction, poetry, drama, and creative nonfiction.  A trade author as well as a professor of creative writing, Burroway brings her years of teaching and writing to this book.  "Try-This" exercises appear throughout each chapter. 


English Writing Building: L-1 Language Arts
Contact: Susan Edman
Phone: 408-864-8547

Last Updated: 2/3/16