How to be a Poet

How to be a Poet

Jo Bell and Jane Commane

ISBN: 9781911027119

Price: £14.99

Publication date: 20th December 2017

Paperback, 204 pp

Poetry Writing Handbooks

How to be a Poet

A twenty-first century guide to writing well by Jo Bell and Jane Commane

With special guest essays from: Mona Arshi, Clive Birnie, Rishi Dastidar, Jonathan Davidson, Abi Palmer, Robert Peake and Joelle Taylor.   

How to be a Poet combines advice, ideas and encouragement from experienced poets and editors in topical chapters to 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, there is plenty for everyone here. How to be a Poet covers topics that range from redrafting poems and getting them published, to learning to pay attention and look and listen like a poet. There is practical advice on everything from getting over writer’s block, getting it wrong and making peace with poetry, to performing live, experimenting with poetic form and using social media. This handbook aims to provoke, inspire and challenge poets of all forms – and encourage you to read widely, write fearlessly and actively participate in the life-changing, life-enhancing force for good that is poetry.


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.


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.


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