Books for writers often stress commercial success, leaving those seeking creative growth to workshops, courses, or simply reading on their own. These two books eschew the money talk and focus on literary expression. Poet Kirby's slim, cheerful volume surveys poetic traditions, examining six poem types with supporting examples and some stimulating exercises. The author includes several of his own poems, fair game for close scrutiny. Writer/teacher Shelnutt's collection might be two separate books unified mainly in the form of presentation. The part on fiction offers theory, guidance, and fiction selections, with the authors' comments on how their works took shape; that on poetry includes drafts and finished poems along with accounts by the poets of their creative struggles. A certain groping unevenness, of course, arises from bringing together so many voices in the effort to stimulate beginners. The contributors have mostly academic or little-magazine writing credentials. Reading suggestions and glossaries round out both volumes; nice work but not essential.-- William A. Donovan, Chicago P.L.