Stephanie Burt in conversation with Wendy Drexler

An award-winning poet offers a brilliant introduction to the joys--and challenges--of the genre

In Don't Read Poetry, award-winning poet and literary critic Stephanie Burt offers an accessible introduction to the seemingly daunting task of reading, understanding, and appreciating poetry. Burt dispels preconceptions about poetry and explains how poems speak to one another--and how they can speak to our lives. She shows readers how to find more poems once they have some poems they like, and how to connect the poetry of the past to the poetry of the present. Burt moves seamlessly from Shakespeare and other classics to the contemporary poetry circulated on Tumblr and Twitter. She challenges the assumptions that many of us make about "poetry," whether we think we like it or think we don't, in order to help us cherish--and distinguish among--individual poems.

A masterful guide to a sometimes confounding genre, Don't Read Poetry will instruct and delight ingénues and cognoscenti alike.


Stephanie Burt is a professor of English at Harvard University, coeditor of poetry at the Nation, and the recipient of a 2016 Guggenheim fellowship for poetry. Her work appears regularly in the New York Times Book ReviewNew YorkerLondon Review of Books, and other journals. She lives in Massachusetts.


Wendy Drexler is the poet in residence at New Mission High School in Hyde Park, MA, and the author of two full-length collections, Western Motel and Before There Was Before. Her poem “To Raid the Necessary (with artist Jodi Colella), based on Martin Luther King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” is a winner of Mass Poetry’s blackout poetry project. Her poems have appeared widely and are forthcoming from Barrow Street, J Journal, and The Threepenny Review.


Event date: 

Tuesday, September 24, 2019 - 7:00pm

Event address: 

79 Leonard St
Belmont, MA 02478

Ticketed Event: 

Before There Was Before Cover Image
ISBN: 9781604542394
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Iris Press - March 31st, 2017

Wendy Drexler's Before There Was Before is that rare book that both ranges far, into the worlds of science, nature and art, and moves in close, examining her own particular human experience. Drexler takes us back in time to the Big Bang and projects us 7.5 billion years into the future. She thinks about birds and elephants, flies, beetles, crickets, chameleons.

Don't Read Poetry: A Book About How to Read Poems Cover Image
ISBN: 9780465094509
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Basic Books - May 21st, 2019

An award-winning poet offers a brilliant introduction to the joys--and challenges--of the genre