Joyfully Ambushed

One theme touched on in Matthew Zapruder's Why Poetry is "associative movement," a term he rather dislikes as being too "clinical sounding," but uses anyway because its meaning is so vast that it's hard to label and shelf as something else. What can it mean? Lots of things, but for my purposes, I'll call it …

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Make It Strange

In Chapter 4 of his thought-invoking book, Why Poetry, Matthew Zapruder quotes a Russian literary scholar, essayist, novelist, and memoirist no one's heard of: Viktor Shklovsky. Viktor's eureka moment? He claimed that the language of artistic texts is no different than the language of texts used to convey information. Asterisk. Make that BIG asterisk. In …

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The Only Tool Needed To “Get” Poetry

I spent most of yesterday afternoon and evening sick in bed. My bedside companion was not Nurse Nightingale, but Matthew Zapruder's book, Why Poetry. Books read when your fogged brain has one lobe in Kubla Khan's rich-scented gardens are always memorable, and this one distracted me mightily despite my dizzy spells and headache. I plan …

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Wallace Stevens: When Weird Is Grounded in Normal

"The greatest poverty," Wallace Stevens once wrote, "is not to live in a physical world." This observation came decades before the SmartPhone, the Internet, and the iPad, meaning, if Stevens were to return today, he'd find the entire planet a "third-world nation"--impoverished, indeed! Ironically, Stevens used the physical world for fantastic leaps by using metaphor …

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