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Why Poetry Matters (Why X Matters Series)

3.64  ·  Rating details ·  96 Ratings  ·  17 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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Jan 18, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: literature, poetry
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
Jan 27, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2013
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.
Caitlin Powers
Jul 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
"Poetry is a conversation, and poets enter into the discussion wherever they are, as they are" (98).
(We need poetry so that we can) "discover the silent space within us" (158).
"Love is the restorative impulse, the antidote to war, to poverty, to hatred, and remorse" (174).
"They (poets) peer into hidden places" and "speak for those who have no voice" (178).
"Poetry matters because it provides this music, which at its best is heard so deeply that it approximates silence" (181).

Great read for a teac
Darell Schmick
Apr 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
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
Franchesca Guerrero
Aug 29, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Jun 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
Jay Parini, a gifted poet/novelist/biographer/acclaimed teacher, begins by looking at defenses of poetry written over the centuries. He ponders Aristotle, Horace, and Longinus, and moves on through Sidney, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelley, Eliot, Frost, Stevens, and others. Parini examines the importance of poetic voice and the mysteries of metaphor. He argues that a poet’s originality depends on a deep understanding of the traditions of political poetry, nature poetry, and religious poetry.
Jan 15, 2009 rated it really liked it
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.
Therese Broderick
Aug 29, 2010 rated it really liked it
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.
Oct 28, 2008 added it
Why do I need someone I've never met to tell me why poetry matters?

I don't.

Jul 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing
With quiet elegance, Parini convinces us that poetry offers a crucial window into the celebration and understanding of life.
Apr 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book is easy to read, well laid out, and will make you want to read and/or write poetry. I highly recommend to anyone interested in poetry or taking a poetry class.
Sep 30, 2013 rated it liked it
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.
Feb 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2013
I really enjoyed this up to Chapters 8 and 9. I'm just not the spiritual type. Will add more of a review later.
Laurel Hicks
I especially appreciated the chapter on T. S. Eliot's "Four Quartets."
Mar 20, 2008 rated it liked it
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.
Jun 08, 2008 marked it as to-read
I think the NYT review says it all....
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Jay Parini (born 1948) is an American writer and academic. He is known for novels and poetry, biography and criticism.
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Why X Matters Series (1 - 10 of 16 books)
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“Poetry is a language adequate to one's experience.” 3 likes
“Robert Frost suggested (with his usual sly wit) that a person uneducated in the operations of metaphor was not safe in the world, should not even be let out of doors.” 0 likes
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