Beautiful & Pointless (David Orr)

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This book jumped out at me one day in the poetry section at my local Barnes & Noble. David Orr writes with a humorous, witty voice that makes it easy for any reader to keep turning the pages. More than that, his approach to reading poetry is so wonderfully articulated — and happens to be in line with my own.

Orr talks about the importance of reading and thinking about poetry in ways that diverge from the exceedingly limited popular understanding of poetry-as-personal (and therefore immune to criticism in much the same way the phrase “I feel like…” gets used in order to help the speaker avoid being corrected when they say something idiotic). In fact, he begins the book with an anecdote explaining how people react with something akin to revulsion when he tells them what he does for a living. He goes on to discuss “big picture” issues in poetry today: the idea of the personal, the idea of the political, form, etc. His chapters reflect his interest in these ideas and his humorous prose continues throughout the entire book.

I really think anyone could benefit from reading this book, whether they think they like poetry or not.

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