Cover: The Poem Is You: 60 Contemporary American Poems and How to Read Them, from Harvard University PressCover: The Poem Is You in HARDCOVER

The Poem Is You

60 Contemporary American Poems and How to Read Them

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HARDCOVER

$27.95 • £22.95 • €25.00

ISBN 9780674737877

Publication: September 2016

Available 10/27/2017

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432 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

Belknap Press

World

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 Stephen Burt selects would alone comprise a valuable anthology of the American poetry of its time, and he is an entertaining, thought-provoking and eager guide to them, keen to ask all the questions that occur to him in his 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

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

[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 Stephen 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

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

[Burt’s] critique is not only accessible to most all readers, but it also shows his depth of knowledge and love of American poetry. His 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

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 his 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 him 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

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: Stephen 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

This is a splendid book. Many critics and poets have published essays or reviews of contemporary poetry, but Burt is doing something else here. He 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