How to be a Poet

How to be a Poet

Jo Bell and Jane Commane

ISBN: 9781911027119

Price: £14.99

Publication date 28th July 2017

Paperback, 200 pp

Poetry Writing Handbooks



How to be a Poet is the brainchild of poet Jo Bell and editor Jane Commane.


As a natural follow-on to the 52 Project of 2014, this book aims to help poets taking the next step in developing, working and participating in the wider creative community as a writer.


How to be a Poet combines practical advice and topical mini-essays that examine both the technical and creative dimensions of being a poet. It’s a no-nonsense manual where we’ve replaced the spanners with lots of ink, elbow grease and edits. At each step, we ask plenty of questions – what makes a poem tick over perfectly, how do we get it started when it stalls, and which warning lights should you never ignore?


Aimed at both new and more established poets, we hope there will be plenty for everyone here. And we’re looking forward to what our special guest contributors will have to add, also.



Jane Commane was born in Coventry and lives in Warwickshire. She is Editor at Nine Arches Press and Co-editor of Under the Radar magazine, and a creative writing tutor and mentor. Her poetry has been published in Iota, Tears in the Fence, The Morning Star, And Other Poems, Proletarian Poetry and in anthologies including The Best British Poetry 2010 (Salt) and Lung Jazz: Young British Poets for Oxfam (Cinnamon). She is currently working on her debut collection of poems.


Jo Bell was born in Sheffield and grew up on the fringes of the Derbyshire Peak District, leaving school just after the Miners’ Strike. She became an industrial archaeologist, specialising in coal and lead mines. A winner of the Charles Causley Prize and the Manchester Cathedral Prize, she was the first Canal Laureate for the UK appointed by the Poetry Society and the Canal & River Trust. She lives on a narrowboat on the English waterways. Kith (Nine Arches Press) is Jo Bell’s second collection of poems.



The Nine Arches Press blog features poems from many of our poets, as well as interviews and articles.

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The 52 project started with a simple idea: Write a poem a week. Start now. Keep going. It became a phenomenon. This book brings together the 52 prompts so that you can pick up the challenge yourself. With contemporary poems to illustrate each prompt, it's a fine anthology as well as a book of lively and engaging exercises for poets, whether beginner or well-established.