What’s the point of poetry? It’s a question asked in classrooms all over the world, but it rarely receives a satisfactory answer. Which is why so many people, who read all kinds of books, never read poetry after leaving school.
Exploring twenty-two works from poets as varied as William Blake, Seamus Heaney, Rita Dove and Hollie McNish, this book makes the case for what poetry has to offer us, what it can tell us about the things that matter in life. Each poem is discussed with humour and refreshing clarity, using a mixture of anecdote and literary criticism that has been honed over a lifetime of teaching. Poetry can enrich our lives, if we’ll let it.
The Point of Poetry is the perfect companion for anyone looking to discover how.
Today I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for The Point of Poetry by John Nutt, a book to remove the feeling that poetry is highbrow or something that can be difficult to relate to or even enjoy. Poetry can seem scary, I agree with that. It’s one of those tricky mediums that people often shy away from because they feel they won’t understand it or are put off by a seemingly endless list of jargon that leaves them feeling that they simply aren’t allowed to enjoy it because they don’t know what it all means. Words like alliteration, stanza, metrical foot, octave, pentameter – it can all be very off-putting to say the least. Or perhaps those who read poetry are seen as one of those airy fairy types who gaze wistfully at the clouds looking to find the hidden meaning in every small detail in life.
Listening to a radio broadcast more recently, about the popularity of poetry on Instagram, I heard an academic comment on how so many ordinary people felt excluded from poetry in the same way they did opera.
I have to admit I can find reading poetry a little daunting. I’ve studied it for a bit, written a little but am a true believer that there is a poem out there for everyone. I do not claim to understand all the complexities of the different type of poetry and the nuts and bolts of it all but I enjoy reading it. Therefore I was delighted to be offered the opportunity to read John’s The Point of Poetry. As a school librarian I try to incorporate as much poetry into the day to day life as possible. I’m constantly on the look out for poetry books that may engage and inspire our young readers and make it more accessible. I believe it should be an everyday part of life so much so that I try to have poems scattered in the Library and in display wherever I can sneak them in around the school. The right person will find them when they need them. Then once they begin to read they may be inspired to share or even write poetry.
Poetry affords people (not just students) the opportunity to express and communicate in all the colours of the rainbow.
The Point of Poetry is a breath of fresh air. Joe is a natural writer and he is informative, yet not preachy which is without doubt part of his ‘teacher’ skills honed and perfected over a lifetime of teaching. To be taught without realising you are learning is a great skill indeed. Filled with humour and fascinating insights into the poets behind the poems, this book does actually make poetry seem within reach. You may not have heard of all of the poets but that really doesn’t matter. Joe chats about the poet and poem beforehand but his observations are interesting, insightful and most of all easy to follow. This book is enough to set you off on your poetic journey. It’s not setting you up to become an expert but merely sending you off on smooth waters. Striking the spark so to speak and lighting your way.
Many thanks to Anne Cater for sending me my review copy and inviting me to be part of this blog tour.
About the author
Joe Nutt is a former teacher with twenty years of English teaching experience. He has written books on Shakespeare, John Donne and most recently a guidebook to Paradise Lost for one of the world’s foremost academic publishers. He is now one of the leading educationalists in the UK and writes a fortnightly column for the Times Educational Supplement.
You can follow Joe on Twitter: @joenutt_author