Why Poetry Matters
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Why Poetry Matters

3.63 of 5 stars 3.63  ·  rating details  ·  57 ratings  ·  14 reviews
Poetry doesn’t matter to most people, observes Jay Parini at the opening of this book. But, undeterred, he commences a deeply felt meditation on poetry, its language and meaning, and its power to open minds and transform lives. By the end of the book, Parini has recovered a truth often obscured by our clamorous culture: without poetry, we live only partially, not fully con...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published April 22nd 2008 by Yale University Press (first published January 1st 2008)
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I need to write an essay on ‘leading educational ideas’. The problem is that the best I can come up with at the moment is how various metaphors related to curriculum effect the way kids end up being taught. The thing I like about this as a topic is that it will give me a chance to play with some of the language used in all of the texts I’ve been reading lately on curricula and to perhaps say something about how curricula work (or don’t work).

But before I start (and I’ve a proposal that is due in...more
Why Poetry Matters by Jay Parini - Not a bad book with some good thoughts on why poetry is important to us and to language and society. The author is a huge fan of Dickinson and Frost and the last third of the book is a Frost-centric outpouring of admiration akin to a high school crush that I found not that enjoyable. I will admit that if I ever wrote a book on poetry that I would behave the same way when it came time to write about Lord Byron so it is somewhat excusable.
Darell Schmick
Every once in a while, I like to pick up a good primer on poetry. Gives me a chance to learn some new things, and also to re-learn ones I'd forgotten about. I especially enjoy the latter: I get an opportunity to be re-introduced to important works, many times with a renewed appreciation that comes from a new perspective.

This book did the same. The author is very competent, and for the most part breaks down simple and complex prose so that any reader can enjoy these works.

The one suggestion I ha...more
Franchesca Guerrero
I am trying to expand my writing and understand poetry. I picked up this book as a primer to explain to me different approaches to poetry. I would say I loved the politics chapter the best and a few others. At certain points, I had to skip around because it was a little too much but I wanted to capture the gist of it and I was able to do that.The nature chapter I did not like so much but it had some good points, also the spiritual section at the end did not interest me too much. I liked that the...more
Erik Simon
Once again, Ginnie Jones tipped me off on this one. Given the boldness of its title, I expected something a bit more introductory than this was. That said, the chapter on "Voice" was quite splendid, and the chapter devoted solely to Eliot's "Four Quartets" was also quite good. Very informative, very readable, but in the end it doesn't live up to its title. I love poetry as much as the next guy or gal, but really, in this world, save for a few of us, poetry doesn't matter, and it won't, and Parin...more
Some chapters are better than others, politics and poetry and the one on metaphor, particularly. While the book seems to visit the same poets for examples (Eliot, Frost, Stevens, Eliot, Frost, Stevens etc.) they are good examples. This is one of those books cover a lot of ground in not too many pages. A good one to teach I think.
This conversational yet learned book affirms the many values of reading poetry which accrue to both individuals and society. I could quibble with some of the statements, but overall, I'm in the same camp. I first read the book many months ago; this encounter is my second.
It's a good read, but a cursory one. Parini can get carried away with his scriptural view of what poetry is. I think he is right, but the mush is too much for some.
I suppose I should already know why poetry matters, but these days I really kinda don't. At any rate, I'm always a sucker for this discussion.
With quiet elegance, Parini convinces us that poetry offers a crucial window into the celebration and understanding of life.
Jun 08, 2008 Martha marked it as to-read
I think the NYT review says it all....

I really enjoyed this up to Chapters 8 and 9. I'm just not the spiritual type. Will add more of a review later.
Jul 30, 2010 Corbin added it
Why do I need someone I've never met to tell me why poetry matters?

I don't.

OK. Good section on T S Eliots Quartets in the last chapter..
Jason Crane
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Jay Parini (born 1948) is an American writer and academic. He is known for novels and poetry, biography and criticism.
More about Jay Parini...
The Last Station: A Novel of Tolstoy's Last Year Robert Frost: A Life Promised Land: Thirteen Books That Changed America One Matchless Time: A Life of William Faulkner The Passages of H. M.: A Novel of Herman Melville

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“Poetry is a language adequate to one's experience.” 2 likes
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