The Millions

Think What a Poem Might Do: A Conversation with Jill Bialosky and Matthew Zapruder

Jill Bialosky author of Poetry Will Save Your Life, and Matthew Zapruder, author of Why Poetry, discuss the state of poetry, their own connection to the art, and their shared experiences as poets and editors.

Matthew Zapruder: What prompted you to write Poetry Will Save Your Life?

I didn’t start out to write a book about poetry.  My original conception was a short anthology of poems to live by.  I saw a special on PBS introducing poems for children and it struck me that there may be a correlative for adults.  Not to dumb down poetry, but to open the door to it for readers who haven’t yet been interested or aware of the possibilities in a poem.  As a poet and a poetry editor, I am frustrated by the marginalization of poetry and believe that there’s a larger audience for poetry that it hasn’t reached as of yet, particularly in this country.  So I suggested to my editor that perhaps I might curate a short anthology of poems that does just that—speak to a larger constituency and attempt to show how certain poems are made up of and are about everyday living.  My focus was not on the theory or making of the art itself, or the writing of the art, but more an appreciation through my own subjective lens. I collected the poems and wrote short headnotes and an introduction and turned it in to my editor. And his response in essence shaped the idea for this book.  He said that I hadn’t yet made the book my own.  I knew exactly what he meant.  Why are these poems important to you?  I stepped back and began to think about when I encountered a particular poem and what it

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Millions

The Millions9 min readPolitics
The Sex Worker Next Door
A writer learns of her grandmother's secret past, inspiring a novel's worth of research about the working women of contemporary China. The post The Sex Worker Next Door appeared first on The Millions.
The Millions7 min read
States of Strangeness and Wonder: A Great American Road Trip
Maybe that is the essential truth about America: there’s no giving up on it. There is always the possibility of reinvention and rebirth. The post States of Strangeness and Wonder: A Great American Road Trip appeared first on The Millions.
The Millions11 min read
Philosophizing the Grave: Learning to Die with Costica Bradatan
He offers us a claim about how some brave souls die for ideas, how their sacrifices illuminate those malignancies that threaten a society in collapse. The post Philosophizing the Grave: Learning to Die with Costica Bradatan appeared first on The Mill