Book Review · Reading

Book Review: The Poet’s Cookbook by Dan Gilbert

Rating: Two out of five stars

26826213When I first saw an inexpensive ebook titled The Poet’s Cookbook, I purchased it with the expectation that it was one long metaphor comparing writing to cooking. I thought prompts would be presented in recipes, that poems would be described as delicious dishes. Unfortunately, the cookbook metaphor ends with the title.

The first half of the book listed different types of poetical formats, usually accompanied with an example. Most of my grievances were contained in this section: spelling errors, grammatical errors, and an overall tone that did not seem to match what I had originally thought this book would be.

Grammatical errors were throughout: “…were are just…” “There is no rules…” “…is a lyrical form verse form…” and the sonnet being the “best well type of poem” to list a few. “Autobiographical” was used instead of “biographical,” and “off” was used for “of.” These, and the incorrect alphabetical order of poetry titles, exemplify the need for editing.

One particular annoyance to the reader is the nicknaming of classical writers. Geoffrey Chaucer was referred to as “Geoff” and William Shakespeare was referred to as “Shakers,” both on multiple occasions. As a reader, I found this tasteless and slightly disrespectful to the authors.

The low rating I gave this book is mostly due to the writer’s condescension toward the book’s readers. While describing free verse poetry, Gilbert writes his own grievances about the form (or its lack of). Instead of providing mere facts and examples of the poetic forms, he inserts his own opinion into some, throwing off the tone of the work. The writer encourages the reader to experiment with certain forms, which would be encouraging if not immediately followed by “I doubt anyone would care or notice…” This phrase appears twice.

This ebook has its merits. The prompts in the second half of the book were creative and, for the most part, original. I highlighted many of the prompts so I could try them out later.

Overall, the first half of the book deserves one star for lack of editing and jokes that fail to reach readers; I give the second half of the book a rating of three stars. The combination of these two ratings is why I chose two stars. Spelling and grammatical errors run throughout the manuscript, but each entry is short enough for the reader to read in tidbits throughout the day. I enjoyed this as a light-hearted read, but potential was not reached.

Picture from Goodreads
Review on Goodreads

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