Advice from Wingbeats Co-Editor, Scott Wiggerman

Wingbeats, photo courtesy of Dos Gatos Press.

If writing better poetry is on your list of New Year’s resolutions, then you’ll want to take a look into Scott Wiggerman and David Meischen’s new book, Wingbeats. Wiggerman and Meischen, an SR contributor from Issue 7, have compiled the wisdom and advice of 58 poets in order to create exercises that showcase the poetry writing process.

As a poet and former Poetry Columnist for the Texas Writer, Scott Wiggerman is no stranger to the world of  poetry. He has conducted a number of workshops for the WLT Poetry Study Group and his work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

Wiggerman found he kept returning to poetry staples, like The Practice of Poetry (edited by Robin Behn and Chase Twichell), for reference, but what he really needed was something new that applied the same variety of techniques. Wiggerman writes that he was looking for something that “combined exercises and essays by poets who actually teach, both academics and non-academics, this time.  Since it didn’t seem to be forthcoming from anywhere, I asked my partner about creating and publishing such a book. I foolishly thought it would be a project that I could handle alone, but David came on board as co-editor almost immediately, thank goodness!”

From the simplest activities to the more involved tasks, Wingbeats provides aspiring poets with exercises along with real poems that show what these look like in action. “We wanted to create a book that poets would actually use, and I wanted a book that would work well for poets both in MFA programs and those, like myself and several of our Wingbeats contributors, who learn the craft of poetry on their own or through the occasional workshop,” wrote Wiggerman.

Wiggerman and Meischen’s new book not only covers standard poetic techniques, but also new strategies for revision, collaboration, and inspiration. If you’re looking for some hands-on experience in writing poetry, Wingbeats is a great resource.

Wiggerman also recommends that aspiring poets seek out workshops and writing groups for guidance: “The absolute best way to learn how to write is to write–and many books or MFA programs can ‘teach’ you this. But it takes feedback as well, and for this, one needs someone to share his or her work with. Of course, it also helps tremendously to read poetry. One of the adages of writing is to ‘show, don’t tell,’ and while Wingbeats does tell, it also shows through poem after poem. It’s the way I like to teach my workshops, letting poems speak for themselves by showing how they’re done.”

You can learn more about Wingbeats on the Dos Gatos Press website or on their new  Facebook page.

3 thoughts on “Advice from Wingbeats Co-Editor, Scott Wiggerman

  • January 26, 2012 at 5:34 pm

    This sounds wonderful.
    I was recently having a conversation with a friend who is on her way to get an MFA in printmaking, and she asked me about the concept of “outsider writers”; that is, writers who find success without the training of several years in academia. It seems that there is definitely a desire for fresh, “un-trained” voices in the literary community, but those voices still need a little structure, some resources to help develop natural talent. It sounds like Wiggerman gets this, and has written an outsider poet’s guide to poetry.

  • January 27, 2012 at 3:00 am

    Thanks for such a great book recommendation. I love that the book is a compilation of academic and non-academic poets. One of the biggest challenges for students of poetry is that we spend most of our time in college studying poetry of the past. While studying the poetry of the “past” provides a necessary footing for understanding the poetry of the present, I feel like there aren’t enough classes that teach us how to critique, write and conceptualize (through literary theory) contemporary poetry.Scott Wiggerman and David Meischen’s Wingbeats might prove to be just the thing—with “new strategies for revision, collaboration, and inspiration” in addition to standard poetic techniques. I look forward to seeing it in book stores soon.

  • October 19, 2014 at 2:53 pm

    This is a great book recomendation I feel like there are less and less people coming out with poetry books and I am excited to see someone giving people the help they need to develop their skill. I feel the key crucial thing I read that makes me want to read this book is the fact that it has information from academic and non academic poet’s. The difference between those two types of poetry I feel is tremendous. This all in all seems like a great book review.

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