Crafting Poems and Stories
  • Publication Date: July 15, 2022
  • ISBN: 9781554814947 / 1554814944
  • 396 pages; 6" x 9"

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Crafting Poems and Stories

  • Publication Date: July 15, 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
  • 2. Images
    The Truth Is in the Details
  • 3. Sound and Rhythm
    Some Enchanted Music
  • 4. Traditional Form
    Rules Are Made to Be Broken
  • 5. Free Verse
    Without a Net
  • 6. Theme
    What’s My Poem About?
  • 7. Voice and Tone
    Dear Reader
  • 8. Revision
    First Thought, Best Thought?

II. Stories

  • Introduction
    The Bridge between Fact and Fiction
  • 9. Getting Started
    The Crafting of a Story
  • 10. Details
    Creating a World
  • 11. Viewpoint
    Whose Story Is It?
  • 12. Characterization
    Getting to Know You
  • 13. Plot
    Time Out of Mind
  • 14. Setting
    A Sense of Place
  • 15. Style and Tone
    Icebergs and Castles
  • 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.