It’s the Friday before NaPoWriMo begins. Soon it will be the weekend, time to plan, and plot, and hatch complicated schemes for making it through a month of poetry. Just kidding! We’ll have optional prompts to help you each day, and the point of NaPoWriMo is really just to get something down on the page, not to have perfectly edited poems spring forth from your pens like Athena from the head of Zeus.

But speaking of classical things, there’s nothing like a classical education. And with poetry, that means forms and devices. If you don’t know your villanelle from your anapest, or your renga from your synecdoche, there are a number of sources that can help you. Online, you’ll find glossaries of forms/devices available from both the Poetry Foundation and the Academy of American Poets. Offline, I’d recommend Babette Deutsch’s Poetry Handbook: A Dictionary of Terms. I picked up mine in a used book-store for a song, but you can also buy it from Amazon and other online retailers.

Not that you need to be up-to-snuff on your devices and forms to write a poem. Nosirree! But this type of information can be very helpful when you’re trying to describe a poem to others, and to explain how it does what it does. And who knows? Maybe you’ll fall in love with alexandrines or double dactyls, and wind up with a whole new batch of poems.

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