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 Millions6 min read
Literary Testimony: Fernando Aramburu Tells the Basque Story
When all is said and done, a novel is a means whereby we impose order on human experience, always leaving to the readers the possibility of reaching their own interpretations. The post Literary Testimony: Fernando Aramburu Tells the Basque Story appe
The Millions16 min read
Missives from Another World: Literature of Parallel Universes
Like a dream where unfamiliar rooms are discovered in one’s own house, the alternate history has a spooky quality to it, and the mere existence of such conjecture forces us to confront profound metaphysical questions. The post Missives from Another W
The Millions7 min read
Drifting Toward Wonder: The Millions Interviews Lia Purpura
The associative impulse confirms the deep systems holding us together even if we’re bent on ignoring or destroying those tethers. The post Drifting Toward Wonder: The Millions Interviews Lia Purpura appeared first on The Millions.