PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewIs it necessary? Is it designed primarily to be purchased and read by students being introduced to the reasons for and methods of reading poetry? I don’t know ... I understand Zapruder’s interest in preaching to the unconverted. I suspect he is a terrific teacher. His readings of poems are subtle and convincing. I found myself thinking, 'Gosh, I never saw that obvious thing in quite that way before,' many times during my reading, which is precisely what should happen when reading about literature: We are humbled by its operations on our own minds and the need for others to read with us.
MixedThe New York Times Book ReviewThe poems she chooses are mostly well known. I did not catalog them, but I wondered whether they were not all cross-referenceable in a Norton anthology. That isn’t a dig. These poems were lovingly chosen — treasures — and I soften toward the book’s conceit when I consider that. We are comrades in our sense that poetry is a kind of gift, there for anyone to take. Still, the notion that generates such an anthology-memoir, the idea that poems must be filtered through a scrim of ordinary language and life in order for us to commune with them, in order that they be 'understood' in some definite way, is wrongheaded and, indeed, condescending. Bialosky gets it, but you don’t? When I was really mad reading the book, which I was frequently, it was because I was quite sure Bialosky doesn’t get it, or quite sure at least that we don’t get any of the same stuff of life from being in poetry ... How does the life work to make words mean differently? What is the relationship between meaning and experience? These questions are posed by the book and dropped when they get hot.