A Reading List for Creative Writing Students & Teachers
I’m posting the Creative Writing Studies (a broad term covering issues of CW pedagogy, theory, and craft in regards to poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction) reading list I compiled for comprehensive examinations in my program. This list is in no way comprehensive; there are thousands of other articles and books that could be added. I chose, however, to focus on quality over quantity. Also, this is an on-going list, so I’ll be adding to it as the months pass. I am also open to suggestions if anyone notices a must-read book or article not on the list.
Reading List: Creative Writing Studies
Section I: Craft of Poetry/Poetics
Aristotle. Poetics and Rhetoric
Auden, W.H. “Writing.”
Bell, Marvin. “Noun/Object/Image.”
Bly, Robert. “Reflections on the Origins of Poetic Form.”
—. “Recognizing the Image as a Form of Intelligence.”
Edson, Russell. “Portrait of the Writer as a Fat Man: Some Subjective Ideas or Notions on the Care
& Feeding of Prose Poems.”
Eliot, T.S. “Tradition and the Individual Talent.”
Frost, Robert. “The Figure a Poem Makes.”
Fussell, Paul. Poetic Meter and Poetic Form
Hall, Donald. “Goatfoot, Milktongue, Twinbird: The Psychic Origins of Poetic Form.”
—. “The Line.”
Heaney, Seamus. “Digging.”
—. “Feeling Into Words.”
Hirshfield, Jane. Nine Gates: Entering the Mind of Poetry.
—.“Poetry as a Vessel of Remembrance.”
Larkin, Philip. “The Pleasure Principle.”
Levertov, Denise. “Work and Inspiration: Inviting the Muse.”
—. “Some Notes on Organic Form.”
Levis, Larry. “Eden and My Generation.”
—. “Some Notes on the Gazer Within.”
Loy, Mina. “Feminist Manifesto.”
McPherson, Sandra. “The Two-Tone Line, Blues Ideology, and the Scrap Quilt.”
—. “The Working Line.”
Moore, Marianne. “Humility, Concentration and Gusto.”
Pound, Ezra. “A Retrospect.”
—. “The Teacher’s Mission.”
—. “The Serious Artist.”
O’Hara, Frank. “Personism: A Manifesto.”
Oliver, Mary. A Poetry Handbook.
—. Rules of the Dance.
Olson, Charles. “Projective Verse.”
Ortiz Cofer, Judith. “Tell it Slant: From Poetry to Prose and Back Again”
Rich, Adrienne. “When We Dead Awaken: Writing as Re-Vision.”
Rilke. Rainier Maria. Letters to a Young Poet.
Ruefle, Mary. Maddness, Rack, and Honey.
Schmitz, Dennis. “Gorky Street: Syntax and Context.”
Simic, Charles. “Some Thoughts about the Line.”
—. “Images and ‘Images.’”
Stafford, William. “A Way of Writing.”
Vendler, Helen. The Ocean, the Bird, and the Scholar: Essays on Poets and Poetry.
Yeats. W.B. “The Symbolism of Poetry.”
Young, David. “Language: The Poet as Master and Servant.”
Section II: Craft of Fiction/Narratology
Bal, Mieke. Narratology: Introduction to the Theory of the Narrative.
Barth, John. “Can It Be Taught?”
Bell, Madison Smartt. Narrative Design: Working with Imagination, Craft, and Form.
Booth, Wayne. The Rhetoric of Fiction.
DeMarinis, Rick. The Art and Craft of the Short Story.
Forester, E.M. Aspects of the Novel.
Gardner, John. The Craft of Fiction.
Herman, David, and James Phelan. Narrative Theory: Core Concepts and Critical Debates.
Hemley, Robin. Turning Life into Fiction.
James, Henry. “The Art of Fiction.”
Kercheval, Jesse Lee. Building Fiction: How to Develop Plot and Structure.
McNally, John. Vivid and Continuous: Essays and Exercises for Writing Fiction.
O’ Connor, Flannery. Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose.
Prose, Francine. Reading Like a Writer.
Van Cleave, Ryan G., and Todd James Pierce. Behind the Short Story: From First to Final Draft.
Section III: Craft of Creative Nonfiction
Cheney, Theodore A Rees. Writing Creative Nonfiction: Fiction Techniques for Crafting Great Nonfiction
Cohen, Dorrit. Transparent Minds: Narrative Modes for Presenting Consciousness in Fiction
Gutkind, Lee. Keep It Real: Everything You Need to Know
—. “The Creative Nonfiction Police.” In Fact: The Best of Creative Nonfiction.
—. You Can’t Make This Stuff Up: The Complete Guide to Writing Creative Nonfiction—from
Memoir to Literary Journalism and Everything in Between.
Miller, Brenda and Suzanne Paola. Tell It Slant: Creating, Refining, and Publishing Creative Nonfiction.
Section: IV: Related Literary Theory
Baktin, M. M. The Dialogic Imagination.
Barthes, Roland. “The Death of the Author,” “The Rhetoric of the Image,” “Writers, Intellectuals,
Bloom, Harold. Anxiety of Influence.
Freud, Sigmund. “Creative Writers and Daydreaming”
Sartre, Jean Paul. What is Literature and Other Essays
Section V: Creative Writing Pedagogy & The Workshop
Bishop, Wendy. Released into Language: Options for Teaching Creative Writing.
—. “Teaching Undergraduate Creative Writing: Myths, Mentors, and Metaphors.”
Bishop, Wendy, and Hans Ostrom, eds. Colors of a Different Horse
Donnelly, Dianne, ed. Does the Writing Workshop Still Work?
Hal, Blythe. “The Writing Community: A New Model for the Creative Writing Classroom.”
Harris, Judith. “Re-Writing the Subject: Psychoanalytic Approaches to Creative Writing and Composition Pedagogy.”
Harper, Graeme. On Creative Writing.
—, ed. Teaching Creative Writing. New York: Continuum, 2006. Print.
Harper, Graeme, and Jeri Kroll, eds. Creative Writing Studies: Practice, Research and Pedagogy.
Hunley, Tom C. Teaching Poetry Writing: A Five-Canon Approach.
Leahy, Anna, ed. Power and Identity in the Creative Writing Classroom: The Authority Project.
Light, Gregory. “From the Personal to the Public: Conceptions of Creative Writing in Higher Education.”
Mayers, Tim. “One Simple Word: From Creative Writing to Creative Writing Studies.”
—. (Re)Writing Craft: Composition, Creative Writing, and the Future of English.
Orr, Gregory, and Ellen Bryant Voigt. Poets Teaching Poets: Self and the World
Vandermeulen, Carl. Negotiating the Personal in Creative Writing.
Zhao, Yan. Second Language Creative Writers.
Section VI: Writers on Writing, Reading, and Living
Ann Patchett’s “The Getaway Car”
Dillard, Annie. The Writing Life.
—. Living By Fiction.