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Why Poetry

By: Matthew Zapruder

Publisher: HarperCollins Trade

Imprint: Ecco

Format: Hardcover | ISBN: 9780062343079

Other Formats:

Electronic | Trade Paperback

On Sale: | Pages: 256

  • About the Book
  • Reviews
An impassioned call for a return to reading poetry and an incisive argument for poetry's accessibility to all readers, by critically acclaimed poet Matthew ZapruderIn Why Poetry, award-winning poet Matthew Zapruder takes on what it is that poetry--and poetry alone--can do. Zapruder argues that the way we have been taught to read poetry is the very thing that prevents us from enjoying it. In lively, lilting prose, he shows us how that misunderstanding interferes with our direct experience of poetry and creates the sense of confusion or inadequacy that many of us feel when faced with it. Zapruder explores what poems are, and how we can read them, so that we can, as Whitman wrote, -possess the origin of all poems, - without the aid of any teacher or expert. Most important, he asks how reading poetry can help us to lead our lives with greater meaning and purpose. Anchored in poetic analysis and steered through Zapruder's personal experience of coming to the form, Why Poetry is engaging and conversational, even as it makes a passionate argument for the necessity of poetry in an age when information is constantly being mistaken for knowledge. While he provides a simple reading method for approaching poems and illuminates concepts like associative movement, metaphor, and negative capability, Zapruder explicitly confronts the obstacles that readers face when they encounter poetry to show us that poetry can be read, and enjoyed, by anyone.
...a consistently surprising work that shows novices how they can navigate poetry while providing a wonderful re-education for anyone who was taught to dissect a poem as if it were a dead frog. Even serious writers will find fresh inspiration here as Zapruder, an astute teacher and writer, reminds us to seek “words that shine forth, are activated, light up, almost as if plugged in.”
—Washington Post
Zapruder's “Why Poetry” weaves personal anecdote with literary analysis to argue for poetry's necessity. As the prize-winning author of four collections, Zapruder has an impressive pedigree, but he's refreshingly humble and direct here, especially when revealing his origins as an “anxious suburban kid afraid of disappointing everyone” and his years of “unpleasant mediocrity” studying Russian literature at UC Berkeley.
—San Francisco Chronicle
Matthew Zapruder wants us to get that poets deal in the archival set of common understandings about cognitive and sensory disorder in human language (an art of producing dis-understanding in order to know things better).... He writes, convincingly, rather beautifully... I understand Zapruder's interest in preaching to the unconverted. I suspect he is a terrific teacher. His readings of poems are subtle and convincing. I found myself thinking, “Gosh, I never saw that obvious thing in quite that way before,” many times during my reading, which is precisely what should happen when reading about literature: We are humbled by its operations on our own minds and the need for others to read with us.
—New York Times
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