To the poetry skeptics, what have you got to lose?

WHY POETRY

Helping readers overcome their ambivalence about poetry.

As a fine poet in his own right and editor at large at the independent poetry press Wave Books as well as the poetry page editor at the New York Times Magazine, Zapruder (English/St. Mary’s Coll.; Sun Bear, 2014, etc.) is highly qualified to take on the age-old question. The author takes a personal approach, mixing memoir, analysis, and argument. As a high school senior in 1985, he dreaded the poetry unit. He picked W.H. Auden’s “Musée des Beaux Arts” to analyze. After reading the opening lines, “something just clicked,” and he understood “that there was something only poetry could do.” After graduate work in Russian language and literature, Zapruder decided to pursue a degree in creative writing and never looked back. Now, he wants to share his love and knowledge of poetry. Even if readers won’t feel like the “top[s] of [their] head[s] were taken off,” as Emily Dickinson described it, Zapruder hopes to show how “poetry creates the poetic state of mind in a reader” through a poem’s form, its leaps of association, and how it plays with the nature of language itself. He first guides readers through literal readings of three poems to demonstrate how to read a poem and dig down into its core to freely enjoy the poem for what it is. Zapruder’s writing is accessible, easygoing, and welcoming, as if he’s sitting right there talking us through the poems. Throughout, he uses numerous poems to clearly explain how each achieves something unique. His discussion of the enigma of line breaks is first-rate. He writes about how he fell in love with W.S. Merwin’s dark and often surreal collection The Lice (1967) and how a Frank O’Hara poem, “A True Account of Talking to the Sun at Fire Island,” now helps him “in this time of crisis, and beyond.”

To the poetry skeptics, what have you got to lose?

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-234307-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Ecco/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2017

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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DEAR MR. HENSHAW

Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

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