Crafting Poems and Stories
A Guide to Creative Writing
  • Publication Date: July 19, 2022
  • ISBN: 9781554814947 / 1554814944
  • 396 pages; 6" x 9"

Broadview eBooks are available on a variety of platforms. To learn more, please visit our eBook information page.

Note on pricing.

Request Exam Copy

Examination copy policy

Availability: Worldwide

Crafting Poems and Stories

A Guide to Creative Writing

  • Publication Date: July 19, 2022
  • ISBN: 9781554814947 / 1554814944
  • 396 pages; 6" x 9"

Crafting Poems and Stories is an inspiring new guide to creative writing. Comprehensive in its treatment of poetry and fiction, this book offers the features that students most often request, including concise definitions of basic terms of poetry and short fiction, focused discussion of craft, exciting literary models, and engaging hands-on exercises. It is an accessible guide that renders the material of introductory creative-writing courses more readily engaging, so that beginning writers can see greater progress reflected in their poems and short stories over the course of a single semester.


  • • Includes 60 poems and 9 complete stories, ranging from classic to contemporary
  • • Each chapter includes craft-focused discussion questions and writing prompts and exercises
  • • Includes appendices on workshopping poetry and fiction and on resources for writers seeking publication


“There is so much to love about Crafting Poems and Stories, from the helpful overviews to the excellent exercises, the masterfully curated short stories and poems, the smart advice on revision, and the increasingly valuable information on workshopping and publishing. But what I love most is how Ethel Rackin demystifies the process of creative writing. The emphasis on poems and stories as something crafted, something that any student, regardless of age or experience, can create, makes imaginative writing far less intimidating and far more inviting. This inclusive book arms beginning writers with the tools to approach creative writing with a sense of belonging.” — Dean Rader, University of San Francisco

Crafting Poems and Stories by Ethel Rackin offers essential creative-writing foundations in a lively, streamlined, and welcoming volume. For those of us who teach in multiple genres, or even find ourselves creating works that dash or tiptoe between poem and story, Ethel Rackin’s text is particularly valuable, allowing these two genres to coexist harmoniously under one roof.” — Mary Biddinger, The University of Akron

Crafting Poems and Stories is everything I have been looking for in a new creative-writing text. The book is thorough, specific, diverse, and very accessible. The readings are stimulating and include not only canonical works but also many living authors from across the spectrum. I especially appreciate the craft questions and exercises, which are sure to inspire students to engage and grow. I can’t wait to put this book to work!” — Christopher Salerno, William Paterson University


Introduction to Creative Writing
A Great Adventure

I. Poetry

  • Introduction
    Basic Elements and Enduring Mysteries
  • 1. Getting Started
    The Crafting of a Poem

    • Charles Simic, “The World”
    • John Clare, “I Am!”
    • Laura Riding Jackson, “Postponement of Self”
    • Evie Shockley, “canvas and mirror”
  • 2. Images
    The Truth Is in the Details

    • William Carlos Williams, “This Is Just to Say”
    • Frank O’Hara, “The Day Lady Died”
    • Louise Glück, “Yellow Dahlia”
    • Carly Ceo, “Ship She”
    • Haryette Mullen, “Sleeping with the Dictionary”
    • James Wright, “A Blessing”
    • George Oppen, “Solution”
    • Jan Beatty, “Blue Dress”
    • Emily Dickinson, “My Life had stood-a Loaded Gun”
    • Robert Frost, “The Need of Being Versed in Country Things”
    • Rainer Maria Rilke, “Rose, oh pure contradiction, joy”
    • William Shakespeare, “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?”
  • 3. Sound and Rhythm
    Some Enchanted Music

    • W.S. Merwin, “Late Spring”
    • Gerard Manley Hopkins, “Pied Beauty”
    • Gwendolyn Brooks, “The Bean Eaters”
    • Danez Smith, “The 17-Year-Old & the Gay Bar”
    • Donald Revell, “Car Radio”
    • Mother Goose, “Hush little baby”
    • Walt Whitman, Excerpts from Song of Myself
    • Allen Ginsberg, “A Supermarket in California”
    • Alice Notley, “I the People”
    • Gwendolyn Brooks, “We Real Cool”
    • e.e. cummings, 67: “when faces called flowers float out of the ground”
    • David Trinidad, “Slicker”
    • Joy Harjo, “The Woman Hanging from the Thirteenth Floor Window”
    • John Ashbery, “Street Musicians”
  • 4. Traditional Form
    Rules Are Made to Be Broken

    • Sina Queyras, “The Couriers”
    • Anne Marie Macari, “From the Plane”
    • Ursula K. Le Guin, “Six Quatrains”
    • Etheridge Knight, “Haiku”
    • William Blake, “The Tyger”
    • William Shakespeare, “My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun”
    • Edna St. Vincent Millay, “What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why”
    • Sandra Simonds, “Red Wand”
    • Elizabeth Bishop, “One Art”
    • Sandra Beasley, “Let Me Count the Waves”
    • Dean Rader, “Cartography; or American Allegory I”
    • A.E. Stallings, “Another Lullaby for Insomniacs”
    • Adelaide Crapsey, “Amaze”
    • Pablo Neruda, translated by Margaret Sayers Peden, “Ode to Tomatoes”
    • Robert Hass, “Selected Haiku by Issa”
    • Terrance Hayes, “American Sonnet for My Past and Future Assassin”
    • Sylvia Plath, “Mad Girl’s Love Song”
    • Elizabeth Bishop, “Sestina”
    • John Yau, “Overnight”
    • Kevin Young, “Ode to the Hotel Near the Children’s Hospital”
  • 5. Free Verse
    Without a Net

    • Solmaz Sharif, “Ground Visibility”
    • Ocean Vuong, “Aubade with Burning City”
    • Brenda Hillman, “Describing Tattoos to a Cop”
    • George Herbert, “Easter Wings”
    • Marilyn Nelson, “Fingers Remembered”
    • Robert Hayden, “Those Winter Sundays”
    • Arthur Rimbaud, translated by Louise Varese, “Ruts”
    • Mary Ruefle, “Recollections of My Christmas Tree”
    • C.D. Wright, “Flame”
    • Gerald Stern, “Galaxy Love”
  • 6. Theme
    What’s My Poem About?

    • Anne Sexton, “In Celebration of My Uterus”
    • Elizabeth Bachinsky, “Wolf Lake”
    • Stephanie Brown, “Feminine Intuition”
    • Claudia Rankine, excerpts from Citizen: an American Lyric
    • Adrienne Rich, “Diving Into the Wreck”
    • Lynn Melnick, “Twelve”
    • Alessandra Lynch, “Admission”
    • James Wright, “Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy’s Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota”
  • 7. Voice and Tone
    Dear Reader

    • Yusef Komunyakaa, “Facing It”
    • Li-Young Lee, “Persimmons”
    • James Tate, “Distance From Loved Ones”
    • Robert Browning, “My Last Duchess”
    • Tyehimba Jess, “Ssissieretta Jones”
    • Amy Gerstler, “Advice From a Caterpillar”
    • Christopher Bursk, “Letter to a Great-great-grandson”
    • Lorna Crozier, “Onions”
    • C.D. Wright, “Clockmaker with Bad Eyes”
    • Susan Stewart, “Lessons From Television”
  • 8. Revision
    First Thought, Best Thought?

    • Kaden Unger, “Enigma”
    • Ethel Rackin, “Song”

II. Stories

  • Introduction
    The Bridge between Fact and Fiction

    • Sandra Cisneros, “Barbie-Q”
  • 9. Getting Started
    The Crafting of a Story

    • Jayne Anne Phillips, “Girls”
  • 10. Details
    Creating a World

    • Andre Dubus II, “The Intruder”
  • 11. Viewpoint
    Whose Story Is It?

    • Anne Beattie, “Snow”
    • Anne Pancake, “Me and My Daddy Listen to Bob Marley”
  • 12. Characterization
    Getting to Know You

    • Ernest Hemingway, “Hills Like White Elephants”
    • Sherman Alexie, “What You Pawn I Will Redeem”
  • 13. Plot
    Time Out of Mind

    • Edwidge Danticat, “A Wall of Fire Rising”
  • 14. Setting
    A Sense of Place

    • Mary Robison, “Yours”
    • Margaret Atwood, “Death by Landscape”
  • 15. Style and Tone
    Icebergs and Castles

    • Jamaica Kincaid, “Girl”
    • Steven Schutzman, “The Bank Robbery”
  • 16. Revision
    Are We There Yet?

III. Appendices

  • Appendix A
  • Appendix B
    Writing Resources

Permissions Acknowledgments


Ethel Rackin, Professor of Language and Literature at Bucks County Community College, has been teaching creative writing for over twenty years. She is the author of the poetry collections The Forever Notes (Parlor Press, 2013), Go On (Parlor Press, 2016), and Evening (Furniture Press, 2017). Her writing has appeared in The American Poetry Review, Colorado Review, Kenyon Review, New England Review, Poetry Daily, Poetry East, Verse Daily, and many other journals.

Read an excerpt from part I: poetry, from Crafting Poems and Stories