Next Line, Please

Next Line, Please

Prompts to Inspire Poets and Writers

David Lehman, Angela Ball, Robert Wilson


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In this book, David Lehman, the longtime series editor of the Best American Poetry, offers a masterclass in writing in form and collaborative composition. An inspired compilation of his weekly column on the American Scholar website, Next Line, Please makes the case for poetry open to all. Next Line, Please gathers in one place the popular column’s plethora of exercises and prompts that Lehman designed to unlock the imaginations of poets and creative writers. He offers his generous and playful mentorship on forms such as the sonnet, haiku, tanka, sestina, limerick, and the cento and shares strategies for how to build one line from the last. This groundbreaking book shows how pop-up crowds of poets can inspire one another, making art, with what poet and guest editor Angela Ball refers to as "spontaneous feats of language."

How can poetry thrive in the digital age? Next Line, Please shows the way. Lehman writes, "There is something magical about poetry, and though we think of the poet as working alone, working in the dark, it is all the better when a community of like-minded individuals emerges, sharing their joy in the written word."


David Lehman:
David Lehman has served as quizmaster of "Next Line, Please" since  The American Scholar launched the feature in May 2014. His books include  Poems in the Manner of... and  Sinatra's Century: One Hundred Notes on the Man and His World. Lehman is the editor of  The Oxford Book of American Poetry and series editor of  The Best American Poetry. He teaches in the graduate writing program of the New School in New York City.