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.
Matthew Zapruder is the author of three collections of poetry, American Linden, The Pajamaist, and Come On All You Ghosts. The Pajamaist was selected as the winner of the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America, and was chosen by Library Journal as one of the top ten poetry volumes of 2006. Come On All You Ghosts was a New York Times Notable Book of the year, and was also selected as the 2010 Booklist Editors' Choice for poetry, as well as the Northern California Independent Booksellers poetry book of the year. Zapruder has been a Lannan Literary Fellow in Marfa, Texas, and a recipient of a May Sarton Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. The recipient of a 2011 Guggenheim Fellowship, Zapruder lives in San Francisco, where he is an editor at Wave Books.