Three Reading Mysteries of Life

Three reading mysteries of life: Kids love to be read to and mostly love reading--until around ages 11 or 12, when interest in reading plummets for most of them. What gives? Why? Is it the "adult" poking forward, elbowing the "child" into the background? Is it the oncoming angst of adolescence? Is it their teachers … Continue reading Three Reading Mysteries of Life


Mean Poems

Poetry, often something we uphold for its beauty and its dalliances with love and nature, sometimes has a reputation to downhold as well. In poetry, Tony Hoagland tells us, meanness can work. That's right, vinegar instead of honey for your readers. As any misbehaving child will tell you, negative attention can be as good as … Continue reading Mean Poems

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 … Continue reading Make It Strange

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 … Continue reading The Only Tool Needed To “Get” Poetry