Unlocking the Poem is a volume of poetry assignments that will be available December 1, 2009–for you! Compiled from the workshop assignments of Ottone M. Riccio, a master teacher known as “Ricky” to his thousands of students, it is designed for the new and experienced poet as a teaching tool. a stimulus to individual creative expression, and a compendium of outstanding contemporary poetry written from these very assignments.

Ottone M. Riccio

Ottone M. Riccio

Unlike many “how to write poetry” texts, Unlocking the Poem teaches by doing. Its assignments offer writers, new and experienced, the chance to try new things, to practice their craft–and to produce their own original, polished poems in the process. By engaging with the assignments, you too can move from merely being “creative” to being inventive and productive in your “play” with language. Let this book stimulate you to “unlock” the poems that wait for you!

Unlocking the Poem offers 450 proven assignments–more than any other work available–based on poetic form, the use of specific words or lines, subject matter, time for writing, and so forth. It includes “form” assignments not only for poems in a wide range of traditional forms, it also includes assignments based on new “forms” devised by Ricky. The collection contains assignments to elicit autobiographical experience, moods, and the realms of fact and fantasy. These assignments provide stimuli to get the creative process underway, with subjects ranging from the everyday (breathing) to the surreal (“climbing the mountain that is not there”), from people to the natural world, from the works of man to history to investigating language. Whatever your interests are, you will find assignments here that spur your writing!

Ellen Beth Siegel

Ellen Beth Siegel

Unlocking the Poem is organized so that related material comes together, readily findable. Depending on your needs or your moods-of-the-moment, you could turn to a given section—villanelles, for example, or surreal experience—or you could browse through the book until something strikes your interest. Assignments are adaptable to beginners and to advanced writers. There’s plenty in here for every poet.

Unlocking the Poem belongs in the library of every writing student who wants to be a poet, and every poet who wants to write more and better poems. Be among the first to have this important resource–order an advance copy today!


2 Responses to “About Unlocking the Poem”

  1. 1 Dad
    November 8, 2009 at 1:13 pm

    Dear Ellen

    It is maybe once in a lifetime a father and daughter can publish a book in the same time frame.
    I am most proud of you.

    Love, dad

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Praise for the Book

“Unlocking the Poem brings both the creative writing teacher and the aspiring writer a trustworthy guidebook and a generous resource. . . . authors Riccio and Siegel have put together a book that deserves a place on every poet’s shelf. Its copies will become well-worn and dog-eared from future service.”
–X. J. Kennedy

“Riccio and Siegel deserve the gratitude of poets
and writing workshop leaders everywhere for their no-holds-barred approach to stimulating the imagination and unlocking the poems in all of us.”
–Sue Ellen Thompson

“For those who can’t get to [Ottone Riccio's] workshops this remarkable teacher, together with Ellen Beth Siegel, has compiled a book of inspiring lessons to help writers on their way to good poems.”
–Diana Der-Hovanessian

June 2023


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