Lives of the Poem
Community and Connection in a Writing Life

by Richard Hague


Read the following ---

This book may be obtained from your local bookstore, on-line vendors such as B&N and Amazon, or you may order directly from the publisher.

Review copies are available for those wishing to consider this book for classroom use.

Lives of the Poem -- Community and Connection in a Writing Life, 
(2005) 309 pages. 
ISBN 1893239268 Softcover   $19.00
ISBN 1893239411 Hardcover  $29.00

Richard Hague biography/bibliography

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Dick Hague has packed his magic into a savvy and practical new testament for poets of all ages. It is the book I've long been seeking for my poetry workshops. 
--- Claude Clayton Smith, Ohio Northern University

The dedicated teacher, the careful craftsman, the playful wordsmith: these gifts are evident on every page. 
--- Ann Townsend, author of The Coronary Garden

One of the most literate pieces of writing that has come our way in quite a while. Almost never do we get a teacher-writer who is willing to critique student work with the close reading Hague brings to this responsibility. Most teacher-readers of Lives of the Poem would develop an advanced understanding of just how much their students can learn about language if they are willing to probe student work with the insight and intelligence Hague demonstrates.
--- Art Peterson, National Writing Project

“My purpose in Lives of the Poem is to celebrate with teachers, students, readers, and writers of poetry the proposition that poems are living things. And because they are living things, the same degree of attentiveness and the same diligence and tolerance and creativity necessary to establishing and maintaining human friendships are necessary to develop­ing a friendship with poetry. To illustrate the complex­ities of the lives of poems, I record in this book much of what in others goes unrecorded. This is a collection of poems, but it is also a running commentary on the conception, gestation, birth, and socializing of the poems and of the ever-widening circle of friends and associates and supporters—and occasional enemies—of the poem and the poet. Under other circum­stances, critics and reviewers and interviewers and biographers do much of this work; in this case, the poems and the poet do it. The model in the back of my mind is Frost’s “Education By Poetry,” a concept with much to recommend it.” 
— Richard Hague

From the Preface --

Lives of the Poem provides some ways of thinking about these questions:

What is poetry?

What is the nature of the relationship between poetry and the culture and community it arises from and dwells in?

What is the nature of the relationship between the poet and the poem, and vice versa?

What does "doing poetry" or "being a poet" look like?

How much "real life" can get into a person’s poems?

To what extent are our poems shaped by our relationships and connections with others, especially others who are writers?

What makes poems good?

From the book--

What You Should Eat
Before Reading The Poem

Before they read poetry,
cows eat seven pounds of
sweet clover, exactly
three days before it blooms.
Before they eat poetry,
carp taste the bottom
of the pond, savoring
a thousand textures:
silt, gravels,
intricate strands of old algae.
Before they eat poetry,
buzzards prepare
themselves by long fasting,
then gorge, in a crowd,
on dead possum.

Unfortunately, you are neither
cow, nor carp, nor buzzard.
Eat something clean and thin,
nothing fancy, nothing expensive.
A portion of common sense.
Filet of dream.
The honest salad of acceptance.

But not too much:
like the wary
streetwise cat,
come to the poem
a little hungry.