Grammar of Poetry Review -

Book Review: Grammar of Poetry

Grammar of Poetry, written by Matt Whitling, is an incredible and instructive poetry-writing manual. As a new poet, I need help trying to find my form, my inspiration, and a new way of viewing things. This book has helped me create some of my best poetry ever.

From the back cover – “Grammar of Poetry is the ideal introductory text for students and teachers discovering the art of poetry. As a “grammar,” it teaches the fundamentals of poetry from scansion and rhyme to more advanced concepts like spatial poetry and synecdoche. Using the classical methodology of imitation (advocated by educators like Quintilian and Benjamin Franklin), this text makes students become active participants as they learn the craft of writing poems. It also offers lots of practical tips and helps, including how to use a rhyming dictionary, how great writers use figures of speech effectively, and even when to break the rules of poetry. Its goal is to show students how to capably interact not just with poems, but with language in any situation.”

What I Liked

I loved the Riddles! At the end of each lesson, there was a brain teaser. I actually was able to figure out most of them. Sometimes I was stumped and mom would end-up telling me the answer from the Teacher’s book.

Even though it kindof bugs me when I’m told exactly “how” and “what to write,” (I prefer to write without all the rules from books), I still looked forward to doing this poetry book. This book would give the topic and would show how to do something in a certain format or style and then ask you to do it yourself. So, it was easy to figure out what the book wanted and then go ahead and create my own poem next to it.

Grammar of Poetry - sample pg36 -
pg 36 – introduces how to mark stress & breve symbols (syllables)
Grammar of Poetry - sample pg 37 -
pg 37 – shows my work

Lessons Covered

  • 1 – Intro & Epiphany Chart
  • 2 – How to Read Poetry
  • 3 – Simile
  • 4 – Rhyme
  • 5 – Using a Rhyming Dictionary
  • 6 – Metaphor
  • 7 – Meter (Part 1)
  • 8 – Meter (Part 2)
  • 9 – Pun
  • 10 – Iamb (foot)
  • 11 – Iambic Imitation
  • 12 – Personification
  • 13 – Trochee (foot)
  • 14 – Trochaic Imitation
  • 15 – Synecdoche
  • 16 – Anapest (foot)
  • 17 – Anapestic Imitation
  • 18 – Hyperbole
  • 19 – Dactyl (foot)
  • 20 – Dactylic Imitation
  • 21 – Onomatopoeia
  • 22 – Alliteration
  • 23 – Alliterative Imitation
  • 24 – Rhetorical Question
  • 25 – Refrain
  • 26 – Refrained Imitation
  • 27 – Oxymoron
  • 28 – Spacial Poetry
  • 29 – Spacial Imitation
  • 30 – Euphemism
Grammar of Poetry - sample pg 50 -
pg 50 – working on IAMB feet
Grammar of Poetry - sample pg 106 -
pg 106 – review of tropes (simile, metaphor, hyberpole, etc.)
Grammar of Poetry - sample pg 145 -
pg 145 – Lesson 28: Spacial Poetry

I’m a Poet & Didn’t Know It

Before this book, I liked poetry. I found it interesting and liked reading different poem books. I had written poems when I was younger as part of my writing assignments, but never really cared to write any “extra poems.” Now I write poetry without being asked. In fact, this past summer I wrote 78 poems on my own (without being asked) and I think it’s some of my best work ever.

Mama Sez logo

Just wanted to add my 2-cents! I really enjoyed this book as well!

When Crazy JC Girl was getting ready to transition to her high school years, I was concerned that we had yet to go in-depth with poetry. Yeah, she had yearly “Poetry Collection” books that I would have her read throughout the year and had her occasionally write poems herself, but we had never really sat down and gone over the fundamentals of poetry.


POETRY was scheduled for the 2nd semester (or 2nd half) of Crazy JC Girl’s 8th grade year in order to prepare her for some required reading in high school. I did add-in other resources, such as reading poetry and a few assignments that coincided with the topics she was covering from Daily Warm-Ups: Poetry – Level I by Shari Goldberg from Walch Publishing (which she also liked & wanted to keep to do extra assignments throughout the summer – YES!). In addition, also purchased Merriam-Webster’s Rhyming Dictionary (2nd Edition) to help with the creative process. (My daughter told me she did not need it, nor did she use it.)

Grammar of Poetry contains 30 Lessons, which I originally scheduled 2 lessons per week. Yet, once again, due to life getting in the way of homeschooling (illness, extra-curricular, etc.) we fell behind with school. Crazy JC Girl ended-up starting this series in Week 23 of her school year. She did not complain, since some lessons were easier to understand and she could quickly add-in another during the week. She still managed to finish before Week 36, so I assigned “Free Writing” for the last 2 weeks of the year.

Student Book & Teacher’s Manual

Crazy JC Girl used the Student Book as a self-teaching book. The lessons were so clearly explained and laid-out, she was able to understand and do most lessons without help. However, the Teacher’s Manual was still needed for quickly checking/grading assignments. And then there’s helping her pronounce new words like iambic, trochee, & dactyl. The Teacher’s Manual is basically a copy of the Student Book with answers filled-in. There really is no “extra” teaching material throughout the book except for a “Instructions” page near the beginning of the book, a Final Exam (reproducible – which we did not use), “How to Grade Poetry,” and “Note to Homeschoolers” at the back of the book. So, yes, you will need both the Student Book (one for each child since the book is non-reproducible) and one Teacher’s Manual.

This book is designed for grades 6-9. However, I’m sure a high-schooler, who has never been introduced to the fundamentals of poetry, would still enjoy this book.

The only questionable content that I can remember is found on page 51 of the Student Book. It is “Riddle No. 11 – There is a certain crime, that if it is attempted, is punishable, but if it is committed, is not punishable. What is the crime?” The answer is “Suicide.” This was not too much of an issue in our house, based on Crazy JC Girl’s age, but if you plan on using this alongside elementary children…plan on having “a talk.

Book Details & Ordering

At this moment, the cheapest place to order both the Student Book and the Teacher’s Manual is You can get both for under $40. Currently, Amazon’s prices are almost double-triple the price. We used the 2012 2nd Edition (Canon Press) of the book, not the 1st Edition published in 2000 (Logos Press).

The Student Book is a paperback book with perforated pages for easy removal. Crazy JC Girl never tore any pages from the book and was able to open the book flat enough to write on both sides of the page. The pages are nice, thick, white pages where you can see highlights of bold text or gray highlights from the other side, yet this is not distracting.

If you have a student who is having a problem working in the book, I would suggest having the spine chopped off by OfficeMax, Staples, Kinkos, etc. and just hole-punching the pages into a 3-ring notebook, or pay to have it spiral-bound.

Additional Products

While researching prices, I’ve since learned that there is a Teaching DVD where Matt Whitling, the author himself, is presenting the material. The reviews state that he goes further in-depth on the topics than the book. It is currently priced at $69 on Amazon. If you have a visual or auditory learner in the house, I would considerate it. However, I feel the book does a wonderful job of presenting the material at an introductory level, making the DVD unnecessary. (We did not use the DVD, nor have I seen it.)

I’ve also since learned about a book called Poetry Primer: Imitation in Writing also by Matt Whitling. This book is also part of the Imitation in Writing series by Matt Whiling, but is designed as a preliminary introduction to poetry helping to prepare students for the Grammar of Poetry book. This book is designed for 4th grade & higher. (Again we did not use this book, nor have I seen it.)

My Overall Impression

I was really impressed with this book. It was exactly what I was looking for – a nice introduction to poetry & it’s fundamentals.

What I really enjoyed was the fact that Crazy JC Girl was excited about this study and looked forward to her assignments. What’s even more impressive, is that she now calls herself a poet and continued writing throughout the rest of the summer.

Grammar of Poetry -