Why Poetry

Ecco: HarperCollins. Aug. 2017. 256p. index. ISBN 9780062343079. $24.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062343093. LIT
OrangeReviewStarZapruder is a poet (Come On All You Ghosts), professor (English, Saint Mary's Coll. of California), and editor (New York Times Magazine), but perhaps most importantly, he is a sensitive and perceptive reader along the lines of Hugh Kenner—a presence the literary world sorely lacks. Addressing his titular statement through a mixture of memoir and poetry analysis, Zapruder argues against the scholarly fashion of presenting poetry as something difficult and arcane. He proposes instead direct experience of the poem as the only way readers can overcome prejudices and fears induced by teachers turning poems into veiled coded messages, puzzles, or prompts for an AP exam. Anchoring his claims about poetry in the idea that a reader should be able to trust what is said on the surface of a poem, he walks us through pieces by W.S. Merwin, John Ashbery, W.H. Auden, and Emily Dickinson (among others), demonstrating time and again how reading poetry isn't about uncovering hidden meanings but slowing down long enough to appreciate what awaits on the page, echoes in our ears, and reverberates in our soul.
VERDICT A great addition to every poetry collection.
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