cover image Avidly Reads Poetry

Avidly Reads Poetry

Jacquelyn Ardam. New York Univ, $14.95 trade paper (176p) ISBN 978-1-4798-1358-2

Ardam, the assistant director of UCLA’s Undergraduate Research Center for the Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, explores “why we might read poetry” in this smart guide. In making the case that “poetry matters in the twenty-first century,” Ardam covers five types of poems, beginning with the sonnet, which she notes is often one of the first types of poetry encountered in school. “Sonnets have been about wanting since their beginning,” she suggests, then demonstrates how the form has been used by Shakespeare as well as in contemporary pop culture. The alphabet poem, she writes, offers order and instruction through language and underscores how much of life is ordered alphabetically. The documentary poem, Ardam notes, has the power to “expose... forms of oppression not to reinforce them, but to resist them,” and the villanelle allows for a look at loss: when “the beloved is gone... the poetry remains.” Her exploration of “internet poems” lands as somewhat dismissive (she calls them “toothless” and “bland”), but she does appreciate the form as a gateway for younger readers. Ardam is thoughtful in her examination of how poetry infiltrates pop culture, and her love of the genre shines. Readers looking to start a poetry habit will appreciate this earnest consideration. (Apr.)