Helpful Hints: Notes on Writing Poetry by Jon Anderson
“Remember the world of ghosts & small gestures.” So writes Jon Anderson (1940–2007) in this distillation of maxims drawn from decades of poetic practice, first published in 1982. Ranging from matters of utter practicality to playful whimsy, the 53 instructions Anderson offers can help refine your poetic practice and serve as starting points to inspire new work and revise material from your archives. You do have archives, don’t you? Says Anderson, keep everything, and don’t be afraid to cobble disparate pieces into something new: “Put successful parts of failed poems together,” he counsels in his ever encouraging and often ironic way. Helpful Hints, a small but powerful vade mecum, is a reference to cherish and learn from.