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Who Reads Poetry: 50 Views from Poetry Magazine Edited by Fred Sasaki and Don Share

Poetry teaches me that I basically know nothing, and that acknowledging this position is a beginning and never an end.
Jia Tolentino
Even when I am confounded by a poem, it changes my world in some way.
Roxane Gay
September 18, 2017

CHICAGO -- Let’s be honest: poetry faces stiff competition these days. From reality, for one. Who has time to read poetry when there are bills to pay, mouths to feed, and all that news to keep up with? And when we do turn to leisurely pursuits, well, there’s prestige TV and Facebook and dopey but addictive video games on our phones.

Yet there’s poetry, lurking in our iPods, our dopamine, our DNA, patiently waiting to take shape in the vicissitudes of daily life. Even today, amid all the distractions, poetry is here and it has readers. Who reads poetry? Musicians and philosophers, to be sure, but also doctors, economists, sports analysts, lieutenant generals, and midwives. Some grew up reading it. Others found themselves drawn to it through unlikely avenues—through the deep curiosity that fuels scientific inquiry, the giddy pleasure of listening to a pop song for the thirtieth time in a row, or even the visceral rhythms of a baseball game.

Who Reads Poetry tells those stories. Originating in "The View from Here," a popular ongoing feature in Poetry magazine, the book's essays tell personal stories of how poetry works in our lives, what it does for us, and how it can change the way we see the world and the people around us. Who Reads Poetry will inspire readers to turn to the nearest volume of verse and start making a space for poetry in their own lives.

“Most books about why we read poetry are written by poets,” says Don Share, editor of Poetry magazine and co-editor of Who Reads Poetry. “This one, though, is by its readers, and what readers they are – an iron-worker, a soldier, a world-class philosopher, an anthropologist, a legendary movie critic, and a rockstar or two, and many more.”

Who Reads Poetry co-editor, Fred Sasaki adds, “We often hear people question ‘why’ or ‘why not’ poetry, or proclaim poetry ‘dead’ or ‘important.’ This book is a break from all that. Here are real, fascinating people on the poems they read, and how.”

Fred Sasaki edits “The View From Here” and is art director for Poetry magazine. He is also a gallery curator for the Poetry Foundation. 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.

About the University of Chicago Press
Founded in 1892, the University of Chicago Press publishes books for general readers and scholars in a wide range of fields.
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About the Poetry Foundation
The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine, is an independent literary organization committed to a vigorous presence for poetry in our culture. It exists to discover and celebrate the best poetry and to place it before the largest possible audience. The Poetry Foundation seeks to be a leader in shaping a receptive climate for poetry by developing new audiences, creating new avenues for delivery and encouraging new kinds of poetry through innovative literary prizes and programs.
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