Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Going "poemcrazy"

“Poems arrive. They hide in feelings and images, in weeds and delivery vans, daring us to notice and give them form with our words.”
~ Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge

Thus begins the introduction to her book “poemcrazy”. Through a combination of personal stories and poems, Susan pulls you into her word world and invites you to begin making poems of your own.

One of my favorite anecdotes centers on her seventh/eighth grade English class and her teacher, Mr. Mabie. She speaks of how his was the first class she ever had in school that allowed her to express the person she is instead of the “good girl I was supposed to be.” I only wish I would have had a similar experience so early on in my academic life! I have only begun to find that same sense of creative freedom now in my mid-forties.

Wooldridge challenges the reader to begin collecting words.

drive, pomegranate, trendy, ephemera

Words cost nothing. They are ours for the taking. They don’t have to be categorized when we’re collecting. They can be anything that pulls at our attention.

press, fairy, optional, grandiose

Words come to us from an endless number of places. By collecting words in this manner, they can fall into a surprising phrase.

rehabilitated finesse, orange existence, flickering asphalt

At the end of many of the short chapters, she offers what she calls “Practice”. These prompts relate to the story shared in the chapter and are often accompanied by poems written by students in her workshops.

One of my favorite practices that I return to often asks the simple question, “Where have you felt most at home? Where do you think you really come from?” This led me to write “Curtain Call”and “I Come From the Air”. (Be on the lookout for a prompt around this idea in October!)

I confess that I have not read this book from cover to cover. I pick up poemcrazy when I’m in need of an idea. I open the book to a random page and begin reading. I find new ideas every time, even on pages I’ve used before.

You can pick up a copy of poemcrazy at your favorite book outlet.

~Amy McGrath


  1. I love this book! I remember searching for a follow up and when I finally found Susan's next book it was many years later - "Fool's Gold" -

    I love them both!

    Thanks for spreading the word!

  2. Beautiful book cover and such simple yet true name :)

    I like the words you shared in the post. Makes me want to pause and reflect till i am ready with a poem :D