Reviews | December 11, 2020

Why, Oh Why, Poetry?: On Recent Prose about Poetry and the Future of the Art

Andrew Mulvania


Why Poetry by Matthew Zapruder. Ecco, 2017, 256 pp., $24.99 (hardcover).

The Hatred of Poetry by Ben Lerner. Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2016, 96 pp., $13 (paper).

How Poems Get Made by James Longenbach. W. W. Norton, 2018, 176 pp., $15.41 (paper).

We Begin in Gladness: How Poets Progress by Craig Morgan Teicher. Graywolf, 2018, 176 pp. $16 (paper).


I, too, dislike it.

     Reading it, however, with a perfect contempt for it, one discovers in

     it, after all, a place for the genuine.

—Marianne Moore

“Poetry” (1967)

Why poetry, indeed? Or, more pointedly: Why poetry anymore? Why, in the year 2020—when there are so many other seemingly more compelling or at least immediately engaging technologies clamoring for our attention, all of which surrender their rewards with much less effort—would anyone bother to read, let alone write, poetry? Such a question would of course be heresy among the poet friends in my circle of acquaintance, but what about the majority of ordinary people for whom an answer to this question, in the form of some sort of justification for reading poetry, would not be at all obvious?

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