Don’t Read Poetry by Stephanie Burt

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About the book

An award-winning poet offers a brilliant introduction to the joys–and challenges–of the genre
In Don’t Read Poetry, award-winning poet and literary critic Stephanie Burt offers an accessible introduction to the seemingly daunting task of reading, understanding, and appreciating poetry. Burt dispels preconceptions about poetry and explains how poems speak to one another–and how they can speak to our lives. She shows readers how to find more poems once they have some poems they like, and how to connect the poetry of the past to the poetry of the present. Burt moves seamlessly from Shakespeare and other classics to the contemporary poetry circulated on Tumblr and Twitter. She challenges the assumptions that many of us make about “poetry,” whether we think we like it or think we don’t, in order to help us cherish–and distinguish among–individual poems.
A masterful guide to a sometimes confounding genre, Don’t Read Poetry will instruct and delight ingénues and cognoscenti alike.

My review

In Don’t Read Poetry, poet and Harvard professor Stephanie Burt takes on everyone who doesn’t understand poetry, or thinks it a bore, or drudgery to be suffered through in school.
“So: don’t read poetry. Don’t assume poetry ever means only one thing, other than maybe a set of tools for making things with words, as music means a set of tools (beats, rhythms, harmonies, textures, instruments) for making things with sounds. instead, find ways to encounter kinds of poems and learn different reasons to read poems, realized in various ways by various poems.”
Each chapter focuses on one aspect of poetry. In this book, the author looks at poems focusing on feelings and characters, and examines various forms and techniques, and difficulty. She addresses the wisdom in poems – some have messages and some do not. She also writes about poems that examine community – poems that directly address national, regional, ethnic, or professional identities. Throughout the entire book Ms Burt gives many examples of poems from ancient to modern, contemporary to classics, well known or obscure, in English and in other languages. The author doesn’t lecture the reader about the diversity of poetry but shows us continuously.
The purpose of this book is a guide to the many forms of poetry and the many emotional places it can take us. There isn’t just one “route” or “destination” but each person derives their own reaction and experience.
Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

About the author

th Stephanie Burt is a poet, literary critic, and professor. In 2012, the New York Times called Burt “one of the most influential poetry critics of [her] generation.” Burt grew up around Washington, DC and earned a BA from Harvard and PhD from Yale.

Burt has taught at Macalester College and is now Professor of English at Harvard University. She lives in the suburbs of Boston with her spouse, Jessie Bennett, and their two children.

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