Synopses & 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 Zapruder.
In 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.
"Zapruder is indeed a hip lyricist, one from whom we should look forward to hearing more in the future... Zapruder’s poems don’t merely attempt beauty; they attain it." Boston Globe
"Zapruder’s poems have a directness and verve that are reminiscent of Frank O’Hara; they’re poems for everyone, everywhere, insisting that everything is subject for poetry, and that all language is poetic language, democratic in its insights and feelings." NPR
About the Author
Matthew Zapruder is the author of four collections of poetry. His poetry, essays, and translations have appeared in publications including The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Tin House, and The Believer. An associate professor in the Saint Mary’s College of California MFA program and English department, he is also editor at large at Wave Books and, from 2016 to 2017, was the editor of the poetry page of the New York Times Magazine. He lives in Oakland, California, with his wife and son.
Matthew Zapruder on PowellsBooks.Blog
When I was first starting to write poetry in my early 20s, I didn’t really understand much about it. I hadn’t been an English major in college, nor had I read much American poetry. So I felt simultaneously thrilled, destabilized, and confused. I felt sure there was meaning there, somewhere...