The Frugal Poets’ Guide to Life: How to Live a Poetic Life, Even if You Aren’t a Poet

Cynthia Gallaher
Book Baby ($12.98)

by Laura Winton

Whether you are a starving poet or for some reason just want to live like one, The Frugal Poets’ Guide to Life will help you to see the beauty in the simpler things of life. The book offers an eclectic mix of poetry, memoir, cooking tips, and of course, advice for writers.

The book is divided into “sojourns” rather than chapters, implying that we are on a journey. While they mostly deal with using our inherent creativity to live simply, Gallaher also weaves a good deal of memoir into the sojourns, making this book feel reminiscent of the work of Natalie Goldberg. Gallaher tells about her path to her first job, her experiences at writer’s retreats, and a host of other experiences in the Chicago literary and artistic scenes. She occasionally addresses very practical things, like controlling the smell of your room when you travel.

There is a section on the principle of wabi-sabi, a Japanese term for seeing the beauty in imperfections. The author describes an apartment lifestyle that many of us can relate to in our twenties and thirties (and maybe beyond): a lifestyle of simplicity, where you have used furniture but rows of bookcases and notebooks full of ideas.

Sojourns seven through ten are explicitly about being a poet and specifically about being a poet in Chicago, although Gallaher also talks about taking your poetry on the road: There is information about setting up readings, and listings of several long-running poetry readings in Chicago (presumably chosen so that the book doesn’t become “dated” too quickly). She recommends you “plant your book around the world” and by “book” she means chapbook, which she also explains in detail how to create. (Despite the internet, writers still like to have an object in their hands, to give away and sell at readings and wherever they meet new people.)

The Frugal Poets’ Guide to Life is also about redefining success, about a way of looking at the world creatively. This is not an “unplug from the world” book. Gallaher describes how she and her husband will write on their own computers separately, but how they will also cuddle up together around their computers at the end of the day with each other. Still, this book is primarily for people who are or want to be poets but maybe aren’t sure about calling themselves that (yet), for the young and old alike who might dabble in poetry or art or just want to live an “artistic” lifestyle—the authentic life in which you are not concerned with what other people think, but instead with what you want.

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Rain Taxi Online Edition Spring 2017 | © Rain Taxi, Inc. 2017