Don Share's Off-Topic Reads

October 10th, 2017

Don Share became editor of Poetry in 2013. He is co-editor of The Open Door: 100 Poems, 100 Years of Poetry Magazine, also published by the University of Chicago Press. He and co-editor Fred Sasaki discuss WHO READS POETRY, just out from University of Chicago Press, this Saturday, 10/14 3pm at the Co-op.


The Anatomy of Melancholy, by Robert Burton - This grim and relentless search for a cure for melancholy is as futile as it is cheering.

archy & mehitabel, by Don Marquis - The true inventor of vers libre in English and a sublime humorist.

This is New York, by M. Sasek - A classic for those, like me, from a small place who dreamt about big places as children.

The Owl in the Attic, by James Thurber - Everyone should have a book that makes them laugh every single time they open it; this is mine.

The Last Days of the Jerusalem of Lithuania: Chronicles from the Vilna Ghetto and the Camps, 1939-1944, by Herman Kruk - Everyone should have a book that makes them weep every time they open it; this is mine.

Commonplace Book, by E.M. Forster - Anything but common.

Gulcher: Post-Rock Cultural Pluralism in America (1649-1993), by R. Meltzer - The blueprint - and unmatched original - for every gadfly cultural commentator in modern times.

In God We Trust All Other Pay Cash, by Jean Shepherd - The great American raconteur's greatest book.

Prejudices: The Complete Series, by H.L. Mencken - He knew us before we knew ourselves.

Official Guidebook: New York World's Fair 1964 - The way we were. 


About Who Reads Poetry: Who reads poetry? We know that poets do, but what about the rest of us? When and why do we turn to verse? Seeking the answer, Poetry magazine since 2005 has published a column called "The View From Here," which has invited readers "from outside the world of poetry" to describe what has drawn them to poetry. Over the years, the incredibly diverse set of contributors have included philosophers, journalists, musicians, and artists, as well as doctors and soldiers, an iron-worker, an anthropologist, and an economist. This collection brings together fifty compelling pieces, which are in turns surprising, provocative, touching, and funny. In one essay, musician Neko Case calls poetry "a delicate, pretty lady with a candy exoskeleton on the outside of her crepe-paper dress." In another, anthropologist Helen Fisher turns to poetry while researching the effects of love on the brain, "As other anthropologists have studied fossils, arrowheads, or pot shards to understand human thought, I studied poetry. . . . I wasn't disappointed: everywhere poets have described the emotional fallout produced by the brain's eruptions." Even film critic Roger Ebert memorized the poetry of e. e. cummings, and the rapper Rhymefest attests here to the self-actualizing power of poems: "Words can create worlds, and I've discovered that poetry can not only be read but also lived out. My life is a poem." Music critic Alex Ross tells us that he keeps a paperback of The Palm at the End of the Mind by Wallace Stevens on his desk next to other, more utilitarian books like a German dictionary, a King James Bible, and a Macintosh troubleshooting manual. Who Reads Poetry offers a truly unique and broad selection of perspectives and reflections, proving that poetry can be read by everyone. No matter what you're seeking, you can find it within the lines of a poem.
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