The Poem Is You: 60 Contemporary American Poems and How to Read Them

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Product Details
Belknap Press
Publish Date
6.1 X 9.4 X 1.4 inches | 1.65 pounds

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About the Author
Stephanie Burt is the author of fourteen books of poetry and literary criticism, including Don't Read Poetry and The Poem Is You. A past judge for the Pulitzer Prize for poetry, she serves as a board member of the National Book Critics Circle, is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, and writes regularly for the New York Times Book Review, the New Yorker, the London Review of Books, the New York Review of Books, Raritan, and other publications. She is Donald and Katherine Loker Professor of English at Harvard University.
This is a splendid book. Many critics and poets have published essays or reviews of contemporary poetry, but Burt is doing something else here. She lavishes the poems with extraordinarily nimble, alert, luminous attention. It's hard to think of a better introduction to contemporary American poetry.--Jahan Ramazani, author of Poetry and Its Others: News, Prayer, Song, and the Dialogue of Genres
Drawing on endlessly deep wells of enthusiasm and acuity, The Poem Is You offers not so much a sequence of explanations as a series of invitations: Burt is more intent on describing how to think about a particular poem than on telling us what to think. Unpredictable yet unfailingly useful, The Poem Is You is a joyous book.--James Longenbach, author of The Virtues of Poetry
It is refreshing to find a book that gives equal weight and relish to avant-garde minimalism, New Formalism, and so many of the stations in between...The poems Burt selects would alone comprise a valuable anthology of the American poetry of its time, and [she] is an entertaining, thought-provoking and eager guide to them, keen to ask all the questions that occur to [her] in [her] reading, and to engage with the chicanery of thought it engenders. Each essay is obviously a product of enjoyment, and encourages us to treat poems with the same enthusiasm--to embrace difficulty and difference in exchange for the articulate and involved pleasure that poetry, of all the arts, can best provide.--Rory Waterman "Times Literary Supplement" (4/5/2017 12:00:00 AM)
[Burt] approaches a stunning variety of verse with the obsessiveness and knowledge of a scholar and a fan. Burt is an ideal guide for this trip through contemporary American poetry...Burt's close readings are sharp and illuminating...The death of poetry has been proclaimed time and time again. But the sixty universes that Burt uncovers in these poems show us how alive poetry is, and how it needs to be read and appreciated for all its weirdness and cacophonous music...Whether you dip in and out of this book over months or read it all in a matter of days, it will help you pay better attention to the nuances, difficulties, identities, and music in American poetry...What comes through here is Burt's sheer, voracious love of contemporary poetry, and it's infectious. This book is a series of doors that all lead back to the poems themselves, and it will likely be used in classrooms across America. At least I hope so.--Gibson Fay-LeBlanc "Bookforum" (11/1/2016 12:00:00 AM)
A fabulous guide...Each poem is introduced by an essay sketching out how it works, why it matters, how it speaks to the wider worlds of art and culture.-- "The Guardian" (10/3/2018 12:00:00 AM)
The Poem Is You is a collection of knowledgeable, useful and affectionately committed short essays on sixty recent poems by sixty American poets...[Burt writes with] unselfconscious erudition, light touch, even tone.--Caleb Klaces "Poetry Review" (1/1/2017 12:00:00 AM)
Throughout, the style of Burt's writing is as relaxed and inviting as its content is trenchant and learned. If the sheer capaciousness of contemporary American poetry is one of its defining features, Burt's achievement here is to have been an enviably capacious critic, responding to the event of each poem in labile and unpredictable ways.--Benjamin Madden "Australian Book Review" (5/1/2017 12:00:00 AM)
Poet and critic Burt's ambitious anthology of recent poems by American authors, from 1981 to 2015, creates a coherent body of work out of the vast landscape of recent American poetry. Burt's 60 selections are eclectic, mingling instantly recognizable names (John Ashbery, Adrienne Rich) with newer talents (Lucia Perillo, Claudia Rankine.)...Burt's many ways of looking at a poem will inspire new students and accomplished poets, especially as many of [her] meditations circle the question of what poetry does, or should do: making readers pay attention, ask questions, and experience new things. Burt's formidable breadth of knowledge about the practice of poetry, from Virgil up to 2015, allows [her] to make nimble connections among authors and establish an ars poetica for current American lyric poetry, an impressive feat given the diverse selection just within this book.-- "Publishers Weekly" (6/27/2016 12:00:00 AM)
[Burt's] critique is not only accessible to most all readers, but it also shows [her] depth of knowledge and love of American poetry. [Her] essays are very good at finding the meaning of the work while placing each poem in context within the landscape of poetry...This book is for anyone interested in the state of American poetry today.--Jeremy Spencer "Library Journal" (11/1/2016 12:00:00 AM)