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Avidly Reads Poetry

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"Poetry has leapt out of its world and into the world” Poetry is everywhere. From Amanda Gorman performing “The Hill We Climb” before the nation at Joe Biden’s Presidential inauguration, to poems regularly going viral on Instagram and Twitter, more Americans are reading and interacting with poetry than ever before. Avidly Reads Poetry is an ode to poetry and the worlds that "Poetry has leapt out of its world and into the world” Poetry is everywhere. From Amanda Gorman performing “The Hill We Climb” before the nation at Joe Biden’s Presidential inauguration, to poems regularly going viral on Instagram and Twitter, more Americans are reading and interacting with poetry than ever before. Avidly Reads Poetry is an ode to poetry and the worlds that come into play around the different ways it is written and shared. Mixing literary and cultural criticism with the author’s personal and often intimate relationship with poetry, Avidly Reads Poetry breathes life into poems of every genre—from alphabet poems and Shakespeare’s sonnets to Claudia Rankine’s Citizen and Rupi Kaur’s Instapoetry—and asks: How do poems come to us? How do they make us feel and think and act when they do? Who and what is poetry for? Who does poetry include and exclude, and what can we learn from it? Each section links a reason why we might read poetry with a type of poem to help us think about how poems are embedded in our lives, in our loves, our educations, our politics, and our social media, sometimes in spite of, and sometimes very much because of, the nation we live in. Part of the Avidly Reads series, this slim book gives us a new way of looking at American culture. With the singular blend of personal reflection and cultural criticism featured in the series, Avidly Reads Poetry shatters the wall between poetry and “the rest of us.”


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"Poetry has leapt out of its world and into the world” Poetry is everywhere. From Amanda Gorman performing “The Hill We Climb” before the nation at Joe Biden’s Presidential inauguration, to poems regularly going viral on Instagram and Twitter, more Americans are reading and interacting with poetry than ever before. Avidly Reads Poetry is an ode to poetry and the worlds that "Poetry has leapt out of its world and into the world” Poetry is everywhere. From Amanda Gorman performing “The Hill We Climb” before the nation at Joe Biden’s Presidential inauguration, to poems regularly going viral on Instagram and Twitter, more Americans are reading and interacting with poetry than ever before. Avidly Reads Poetry is an ode to poetry and the worlds that come into play around the different ways it is written and shared. Mixing literary and cultural criticism with the author’s personal and often intimate relationship with poetry, Avidly Reads Poetry breathes life into poems of every genre—from alphabet poems and Shakespeare’s sonnets to Claudia Rankine’s Citizen and Rupi Kaur’s Instapoetry—and asks: How do poems come to us? How do they make us feel and think and act when they do? Who and what is poetry for? Who does poetry include and exclude, and what can we learn from it? Each section links a reason why we might read poetry with a type of poem to help us think about how poems are embedded in our lives, in our loves, our educations, our politics, and our social media, sometimes in spite of, and sometimes very much because of, the nation we live in. Part of the Avidly Reads series, this slim book gives us a new way of looking at American culture. With the singular blend of personal reflection and cultural criticism featured in the series, Avidly Reads Poetry shatters the wall between poetry and “the rest of us.”

34 review for Avidly Reads Poetry

  1. 5 out of 5

    virgorising

    this is an accessible introduction to contemporary poetry criticism, especially political poetry criticism, equivalent to a 101 or 201 course. ardam traces her reading of popular culture poetry moments from the teen shakespeare adaptations of the '90s to our current insta poet frenzy, and undergirds this lineage with analysis and counter-analysis from poets and critics of colour. what feels especially 101 or 201 about this book is the way it serves more as an introduction to other people's criti this is an accessible introduction to contemporary poetry criticism, especially political poetry criticism, equivalent to a 101 or 201 course. ardam traces her reading of popular culture poetry moments from the teen shakespeare adaptations of the '90s to our current insta poet frenzy, and undergirds this lineage with analysis and counter-analysis from poets and critics of colour. what feels especially 101 or 201 about this book is the way it serves more as an introduction to other people's critical insights, rather than an unfolding of the author's own. this is at times frustrating; if i wanted to read someone else's analytical work, i would find their book and read it. ardam shines most—for me, anyway, as a lay person—when explicating how and why the poems work, or don't, at the craft level. but maybe a reader for whom the poetry is familiar and the politics new would feel differently. relying so heavily on other writers' and thinkers' work leaves some major holes in the analysis. i have a real bone to pick with the closing chapter on internet poetry—i almost wonder if it was rushed to completion, as it feels less sturdy than the previous chapters. how do you write about internet poets and internet-popular poetry, how do you claim to be super online, without apparently knowing about or having anything to say about the internet weirdos? lockwood and siken are completely absent—two poets who, i would argue, diverge greatly from her general thesis that internet poetry is distinct for its interest in individualistic affirmation in a feel-good way (could we say that siken is interested in affirmation in a feel-bad way?) meanwhile her emphasis on instagram poets such as kaur completely misses the much more interesting history on poetry tumblr from, let's say, 2012-2014, completely misses the plagiarism drama with warsan shire and nayyirah waheed, etc etc etc. her conclusion, that while mediocre perhaps kaur's work is important for what it imparts to young girls as a cultural-political demographic, which sets kaur aside from the (i cannot believe i am saying this) mary olivers of the world, who say "you only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves" but do not talk about periods, i guess, is embarrassingly facile. there's so much rich ground for analysis here and she skates right on by. perhaps a deadline is to blame. speaking of mary oliver: we need to talk about the strange gulf that exists in this book where a queer analysis should be. ardam slams oliver for writing "banal" "self-soothing" poetry, poetry that she considers to be bad on the level of the line but also empty politically, and it's hard to say which is the worse sin in her eyes. there is no acknowledgement of the political context of lesbian life. "wild geese" is presented as perhaps the worst and most hollow of the viral poems ardam analyzes—being good/walking on your knees repenting/loving what you love/your place in the family of things reduced down to feel-good validation babble. i could write a whole essay about those four lines in the context of sara ahmed's work on straight phenomenology right now! this stands out so strongly because of the time ardam takes throughout the book to repeatedly emphasize her own positionality as a straight cis white woman. in the first chapter on shakespeare in the '90s, for instance, she states over and over that the relationship she had to these movies and these poems and these romances were part of her straightness and her whiteness; however, it is pretty poor analysis to say "this is because i'm straight" without then pivoting, at least for a moment, to consider the alternate perspective. particularly insane because she is analyzing the sonnets that inspired or were used in these movies in the context of the fair youth poems! in the context of a queer history! what on earth was she thinking! (a further absurdity: she thanks lee edelman for being her teacher in the acknowledgements.) i went into this book expecting a higher level of critical reflection than i got, which is perhaps on me. as a collection of personal-critical essays, it's fine; for a reader more interested in the personal side, it may be a better fit. thanks to netgalley and the publisher for the ARC.

  2. 4 out of 5

    George

    The micro criticism + memoir genre works surprisingly well here, in a way that I don't really recognise outside of The Personal Essay, which is not a genre I'm particularly familiar or enamoured with. Ardam does it in less of a show-off way here, with the patient breadth and assuredness appropriate to a longer work that is still much lither than your average monograph. The connection between what Ardam has to teach you and how her biography brought her to that knowledge and experience is always The micro criticism + memoir genre works surprisingly well here, in a way that I don't really recognise outside of The Personal Essay, which is not a genre I'm particularly familiar or enamoured with. Ardam does it in less of a show-off way here, with the patient breadth and assuredness appropriate to a longer work that is still much lither than your average monograph. The connection between what Ardam has to teach you and how her biography brought her to that knowledge and experience is always at the forefront of the exposition, which means you never lose sight of what the book is about (poetry as life). This makes me want to describe it as a specific kind of consistently generous reparative popular critical practice, in which Ardam is always checking herself and the standpoint from which she critiques poems. The concluding reading of Rupi Kaur begins with viscerally enjoyable and familiar take-downs of her formal failures ("This poem is barely a poem. It is a sentence broken across five lines for no discernible reason" (137)) but ends with an emotionally courageous reckoning with the kinds of poetry that allow "a genre for beginners: for beginning writers, but beginning people too" (145). Poetry and life are elegantly interwoven as the technical subject matter of literary studies in a convincing way and across several registers of this book. Fortunately, however, Ardam does not grant this even-handedness even-handedly: Billy Collins and Kenneth Goldsmith are righteously and rightfully trashed in this book, and she never loses sight of the broader critical (critical) project which has to subsume individual hurt feelings and life narratives, namely, racial justice in the United States.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Richard

    An intuitive, very personal work that emphasises how poetry can be accessible, relevant and enjoyable to the layman and (high school) student. How barriers and stigmas that so often surround the validity and legitimacy of poetry can be broken down. “Poetry has leapt out of its world and into the world” A very inspiring read. I would love to sit in on a lecture or meet the author in person! My thanks to NetGalley and NYU Press for granting this e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Naomi Ruth

    More of a 3.5 than a 3, but not quite a 4 for me. What Worked for Me This book got me thinking more about poetry, how it's used, the stories it can tell, the types of audiences it can (or sometimes cannot) reach. I liked how it was divided into four sections that focused not only on a type of poem, but on the author's personal life. I thought she mixed poetic analysis and memoir together in a way that was cohesive, both parts working together toward a clear goal. The chapter on abecedarian poe More of a 3.5 than a 3, but not quite a 4 for me. What Worked for Me This book got me thinking more about poetry, how it's used, the stories it can tell, the types of audiences it can (or sometimes cannot) reach. I liked how it was divided into four sections that focused not only on a type of poem, but on the author's personal life. I thought she mixed poetic analysis and memoir together in a way that was cohesive, both parts working together toward a clear goal. The chapter on abecedarian poems was fascinating. I had read Edward Gorey and thought passively about audience & intended demographic, but never looked further than that. I also really enjoyed the chapter on documentary poems, as I didn't know much about such poems. This essay collection introduced me to many poets & concepts that I will be researching further in the future. What Didn't Work for Me Ardam uses a lot more swearing, which I wasn't expecting. I'm not against using swear words in general, as long as it fits & has a clear purpose. This was not the case, in this instance. From the description I was expecting something a lot more academic. Maybe if the book had a brief introduction to the series this is a part of that might have helped? (I haven't looked up the rest of the series, so I'm not sure if this would help or not.) I was a little unclear on the intended audience. The mix between memoir and analysis worked, but the mix between personal and academic didn't, which I know seems contradictory, but analysis can be personal or can be academic. It rarely works as both, in my experience. Ardam also can come across as vituperative in her political comments, which, while understandable, isn't my cup of tea, as it were. While there were many things I appreciated about the chapter on internet poems, this was the weakest essay. It was messy, not always coherent, and not always fair. The Mary Oliver poem takes a beating, which I found odd, because the entire poem was filled with queer vibes all over the place, and upon a quick google search it turns out Mary Oliver was a lesbian poet. Ardam tries to be more aware of her bias as a straight cis-gendered woman, but gods, she wildly missed the queer wording of this entire poem. I read it and almost immediately cried, I related to the queer subtext So Much. I understand her critique of rupi kaur, but I do not understand her critique of Mary Oliver as banal. As she might say: WTF is wrong with you? If you are going to have an essay collection that includes references and analysis of queer authors & people of color, I would have expected a sensitivity reader to be involved, and I'm not convinced that happened. As a white person, I'm not wondering if there are racist things in this text that I missed. What I Think Overall If you are looking for a personal, part-memoir, part-analysis look at poetry and how audience can affect the reading & creation of poetry, I recommend this book. It's short, there are good questions, it would be great, I think, as a book club book to start dialogue around some difficult issues. I think it does a good job of making an argument for poetry's validity as an artistic form. If you are looking for more than that, this may not be the book for you.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Pamela

    I hadn’t come across this series Avidly Reads, before this book. The series is described as brief books about how culture makes us feel. There are only a handful of these books published, so far. This one takes on the topic of poetry. The book itself is a bit of a poetry literature criticism class, with a touch of memoir all wrapped up into several long essays. There are four chapters with one short coda, all discussing poetry. The focus is on several types of poems, but the feelings aspect rela I hadn’t come across this series Avidly Reads, before this book. The series is described as brief books about how culture makes us feel. There are only a handful of these books published, so far. This one takes on the topic of poetry. The book itself is a bit of a poetry literature criticism class, with a touch of memoir all wrapped up into several long essays. There are four chapters with one short coda, all discussing poetry. The focus is on several types of poems, but the feelings aspect related to: wanting, learning, resisting, soothing and losing. The first chapter is about the sonnet and wanting and perhaps provides the most autobiographical material as well, with the author talking about her entry into poems as a teenager. The later chapters had more of the literature criticism class aspect to them, with one in particular (documentary poems) discussing a class she held recently and what her students focused on and were taught. Ms Ardam does not shy away from letting you know there are some poets she does not like, one of whom is a favorite of mine, Billy Collins. I like his poetry as it is accessible and filled with humor where too often poetry seems to be a Very Serious Business. I don’t think I would have wanted a longer book on this topic, it was enough here to remind myself about reading poetry, while also providing insight into the more recently developments in that world. This one is heavily into diversity and inclusion within poetry, and shows how the entry point to poetry can be something other than the standard sonnet of historical literature classes. These types of poems may be off putting to people who could otherwise gain from experiencing poetry. I did appreciate the write up of how Ardam helped her students get into difficult poems, like avant-garde poetry.

  6. 4 out of 5

    andrea v. (andrea’s galley)

    “In the 1990s, poems existed for me in books and in my brain and then maybe you could read them aloud to make someone fall in love with you, but that was it. These days, poetry happens on the internet.” Genre: Nonfiction, Poetry Actual Rating: 3.5 stars Content Warnings: Mentions racism, sexism, sexual assault This is the type of non-fiction book I love. The ones with personal narrators that know they don’t have everything figured out. The ones with narrators that are willing to ask questions and do “In the 1990s, poems existed for me in books and in my brain and then maybe you could read them aloud to make someone fall in love with you, but that was it. These days, poetry happens on the internet.” Genre: Nonfiction, Poetry Actual Rating: 3.5 stars Content Warnings: Mentions racism, sexism, sexual assault This is the type of non-fiction book I love. The ones with personal narrators that know they don’t have everything figured out. The ones with narrators that are willing to ask questions and don’t seem afraid to make mistakes. I didn’t love how the narrator assumed we were all in or from the United States, but I also get it, I guess? They’re writing for their demographic, their usual readers. Too bad I’m not in or from the US. Also, I didn’t like the criticism to Kaur… it felt kind of condescending at parts but to each their own. Something I did love, tho, was how diverse the poetry verses used as examples were. The author really did quote everything from Walt Whitman and Shakespeare to the poem read in 10 Things I Hate About You, a movie that’s a cult classic at this point. I would recommend this book to all poetry lovers that are into nonfiction, but also to everyone who’s even remotely interested in poetry. This is NOT a poetry book. It’s a book about poetry (and there are a few poetry verses here and there, but that’s it). ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. “The grief is not finished but the poem is. The art of losing this beloved is impossible to master, but still, you go through your motions, you make your rhymes, you complete your stanza, you finish the poem because that is all there is to do. The beloved is gone but the poetry remains. And that will have to be enough (Write it!) for now.”

  7. 4 out of 5

    Seher

    Thank you, NetGalley for the chance to read and review this book! I’m not familiar with any of the other books in the avidly reads series, but I would check them out on the basis of this one. Ardam is a good writer, clearly very knowledgable, and as a Professor is able to recognize when to stop and not overload someone with information. I’m adding a lot of things to be tbr stack because of this book, such as the book of the dead, I will say though that I really disagree with Ardam’s opinion on ce Thank you, NetGalley for the chance to read and review this book! I’m not familiar with any of the other books in the avidly reads series, but I would check them out on the basis of this one. Ardam is a good writer, clearly very knowledgable, and as a Professor is able to recognize when to stop and not overload someone with information. I’m adding a lot of things to be tbr stack because of this book, such as the book of the dead, I will say though that I really disagree with Ardam’s opinion on certain poems, such as Wild Geese by Mary Oliver and Good Bones by Maggie Smith! Those are two that I really love! But I also like that Ardam was okay with going there and putting her opinion out there and talking about it. I respect her opinion on them, even if I don’t agree. I wouldn't mind either taking her poetry class or at least going over her syllabus and taking things out of it to read.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    Another great entry in this series of brief books focusing on a knowledgeable author’s personal essays on a topic. In this one, Jacquelyn Ardam, who formerly taught classes on poetry, argues that poetry is now mainstream, thanks to social media. While her chapter on internet poetry certainly supports her claim, I unfortunately do not think as many people are reading poetry as should. Regardless, this is an enjoyable easy read that will encourage you to seek out new poets, and excuse your secret d Another great entry in this series of brief books focusing on a knowledgeable author’s personal essays on a topic. In this one, Jacquelyn Ardam, who formerly taught classes on poetry, argues that poetry is now mainstream, thanks to social media. While her chapter on internet poetry certainly supports her claim, I unfortunately do not think as many people are reading poetry as should. Regardless, this is an enjoyable easy read that will encourage you to seek out new poets, and excuse your secret dislike of enormously popular poets (ahem). It will also make you laugh out loud. Trump supporters will not appreciate some comments in the book, but I can’t imagine many would read a book on poetry anyway. I wish I could have taken one of Ardam’s classes when she taught in Maine. #AvidlyReadsPoetry #NetGalley

  9. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    Started this book but within 10 pages it was full of political views and I am so sick of politics I set this down. I don’t care if you like Trump, Biden, whatever!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Eric

  11. 4 out of 5

    Tiffany

  12. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

  13. 4 out of 5

    Mcmaurer

  14. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

  15. 5 out of 5

    Julia Kark Callander

  16. 5 out of 5

    Meg

  17. 4 out of 5

    Labannya

  18. 5 out of 5

    Bev

  19. 5 out of 5

    Crystal

  20. 4 out of 5

    Babs B

  21. 4 out of 5

    Mary

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jenna

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ludovica Ciasullo

  24. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

  25. 4 out of 5

    Julia

  26. 5 out of 5

    marisol

  27. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jen

  29. 4 out of 5

    Verity

  30. 4 out of 5

    Eric

  31. 5 out of 5

    Barry

  32. 5 out of 5

    James Gifford

  33. 5 out of 5

    Steph Sherman

  34. 4 out of 5

    Jamieanna

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