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Don't Read Poetry: A Book About How to Read Poems

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  54 ratings  ·  21 reviews
An award-winning poet offers a brilliant introduction to the joys--and challenges--of the genre

In Don't Read Poetry, award-winning poet and literary critic Stephanie Burt offers an accessible introduction to the seemingly daunting task of reading, understanding, and appreciating poetry. Burt dispels preconceptions about poetry and explains how poems speak to one another--a
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published May 21st 2019 by Basic Books
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4.15  · 
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 ·  54 ratings  ·  21 reviews

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Joseph Spuckler
May 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetics, poetry
Burt provides an intriguing primer on poetry for those who are just discovering the art. She states that this is not a book for those looking for justification of popular poetry, but it is a book that helps one navigate through the many types of poetry. Burt uses well-known poets of different eras like O'Hara, Shelly, Byron, and Frost as well as a host of other lesser known poets. The exploration of poetry leads to the (human) commonality of many types and eras as well as differences in style.

Ann T
Aug 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Thank you Perseus Books and Netgalley for this ARC.

I haven’t read much poetry since high school and over the past year or two I have been trying to read different forms as part of my reading habit. This book was perfectly timed for me. I have always shied away from poetry, but this helped me understand it’s forms and some it’s functions. I truly appreciate the time taken by Stephanie Burt to explain these in her book and I truly hope that the result it a lot more people enjoying poetry as part o
Seema Rao
Feb 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Thoughtful ~ Honest ~ Helpful

tl; dr: Poetry doesn't suck, and you can learn to believe this.

I have always hated poetry. It's one of those dirty secrets I don't usually share because it makes me nuts when people say they hate reading or art (two parts of my job). I grabbed this book like a guilty teen with a crib sheet. But, I'm so glad I did. Even poetry lovers will enjoy Burt's book. She comes at the topic from a place of support and honesty. So many literature teachers are snobs and treat tho
Ellie King
Jul 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
A bit dry and slow in some parts, but Burt is successful at making poetry a less daunting and fairly exciting art form for someone like me, who has never known much about it except what was dryly taught to me in high school. Read this book to get a great selection of interesting poems and also if you want to feel the urge to set it down every 15 minutes and give a shot at writing poetry yourself.
Jul 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
If you’re like me and think you hate poetry or are intimidated by it but suspect you’re missing out on a whole other world this book works. Also a good introduction to a ton of contemporary poets who are talking about all the things you care about now - culturally, politically, aesthetically - all that
Christine C
May 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
In Don't Read Poetry, poet and Harvard professor Stephanie Burt takes on everyone who doesn't understand poetry, or thinks it a bore, or drudgery to be suffered through in school. 
"So: don't read poetry. Don't assume poetry ever means only one thing, other than maybe a set of tools for making things with words, as music means a set of tools (beats, rhythms, harmonies, textures, instruments) for making things with sounds. instead, find ways to encounter kinds of poems and learn different reasons
Apr 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Don’t Read Poetry feels like a written long-form lecture from your favorite English professor, hip and approachable but still hoping you’ll learn something. It took me longer to read than expected because I found myself making reading lists – I wish it came with a textbook of all these poems in their full forms!

My e-reader copy was not formatted perfectly, and sometimes it was hard to follow. I’d recommend checking how the book is formatted on your e-reader by downloading a sample before purchas
Curt Bobbitt
Aug 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Stephanie Burt succeeds with the goals she states in the subtitle, the introduction, and several reminders later in the book.

“If this book works as I hope it will, you will evolve your own reasons for liking poems too, however you find more of them (in anthologies, on websites, in single-author volumes, via audio or video): they will be reasons not wholly congruent with my own six categories (feeling, character, technique, difficulty, wisdom, and community).

Burt sometimes commands readers: "Don
Mar 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
I felt that I sucked at reading poetry; as I would read, even at a snail's pace, I was convinced that I was missing some larger point entirely, wholly disrespecting the author's work like a dog gnawing on bones at an archaeological dig.

While I can't say that I'm completely prepared to take on even a quarter of the poetry out there (I should be clear that Burt doesn't certify that this book is a Rosetta Stone for understanding all poems past this read), I guarantee that I'm looking at these works
Sep 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literature, poetry
A helpful, amusingly opinionated and thought-provoking guide for how to think about reading individual poems. Some notions are fairly obvious, like reading for feelings and character. Others more surprising and illuminating, like reading for “difficulty.” I enjoyed the many illustrative examples throughout, and appreciated that the writer didn’t offer a “what to read now” at the end, although I might not have minded a straightforward citation list to help find the full poems excerpted within. Ov ...more
Mary Casey
Jul 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. I write poetry myself and I highly recommend this book for anyone thinking of writing poetry or learning how to read poetry. It seems like such a nebulous art but this book is great at focusing on what poetry is and can be for each individual.

This is not a boring book in the least. If you have ever been curious about poetry or think you can't read it or write it give this book a try!

Thank you to NetGalley for the chance to read the ARC of this book
Apr 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An excellent primer for high-level readers who aren't comfortable with poetry or are developing college-level understanding of literature and poetry. I will use this book with AP Literature students as a way of entering into the centuries-old conversation on what poetry is,what it does (or should do), and why it has value.
Mar 19, 2019 rated it liked it
As an English teacher, I enjoyed this book insomuch that it agreed with many of my beliefs about poetry. The author's selection of poems shared in the various chapters were wide ranging and varied in topic. It makes for a fun read for those who might want a better understanding of poetry as well as for those who already love poetry!
Leland William
Aug 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
An excellent introduction into what poetry is all about. This book is worth reading for the variety of poets and styles of poetry Burt introduces you.
Jul 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
♥ So good. Wish I could have read this years ago! ...more
Cal McCarthy
Aug 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Rather forensic but very interesting and pretty useful.
May 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
I picked up Stephanie Burt’s new book, “Don’t Read Poetry” hoping to come to a better appreciation for and understanding of modern poetry, and it didn’t disappoint. Organizing the book into six chapters on poems of feelings, characters, forms, difficulty, wisdom and community, Burt takes the reader on a tour through poetry, from the most ancient extant verse to experimental modern forms on Tumblr. Throughout, she illustrates each category with plentiful examples followed by her own close reading ...more
Autumn Is Azathoth
Apr 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
DON'T READ POETRY is a careful and detailed explication of the genre: what poetry is, how to successfully react to it, how to comprehend it, how to find poetry we like. I recommend reading it a chapter/section at a time, letting both the author and the included poem segments speak to you. Look up the poets and sample their work. Follow what inspires you. Read Poetry more widely than before. Revel in Poetry.
Charles C. Haynes
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Aug 20, 2019
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Aug 13, 2019
Jason Waugh
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Aug 12, 2019
Chris Fanelli
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Sep 10, 2019
Leonard Singer
rated it it was ok
Jun 23, 2019
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Aug 25, 2019
May 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Disclosure: Stephanie is a good friend and one of the smartest people I know. The conceit of the title is: don’t read poetry, read poems, which “are like pieces of music: by definition they all have something in common, but they vary widely in how they work, where they come from, and what they try to do.” One thing vital to the poetic project is the arrangement of language “to convey, share, or provoke emotions,” along with whatever else a poem does. Poems can also introduce us to characters, in ...more
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Aug 20, 2019
Mar 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Great read this was a wonderful book. Each page helped me in understanding what poetry is all about. Poetry was very well explained. I we enjoyed every page. Thank you NetGalley for the Advance Reader Copy in exchange for my honest review.
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Jul 03, 2019
Aunt Beast
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May 09, 2019
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Aug 31, 2019
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Stephanie Burt is a poet, literary critic, and professor. In 2012, the New York Times called Burt “one of the most influential poetry critics of [her] generation.” Burt grew up around Washington, DC and earned a BA from Harvard and PhD from Yale.

Burt has taught at Macalester College and is now Professor of English at Harvard University. She lives in the suburbs of Boston with her spouse, Jessie B