Book Review: Avidly Reads: Poetry by Jacquelyn Ardam

Avidly Reads: Poetry by Jacquelyn Ardam

I’m not familiar with any of the other books in the avidly reads series, but I would check them out on the basis of this one. Ardam is a good writer, clearly very knowledgable, and I think her experience as a professor gives her the ability to recognize when to stop and not overload someone with information. I’m adding a lot of things to be tbr stack because of this book, such as the book of the dead. This was also the first time I really stopped to think about alphabet poems. I wish wish wish I had been given Edward Gorey’s book as a child.

I will say though that I really disagree with Ardam’s opinion on certain poems, such as Wild Geese by Mary Oliver and Good Bones by Maggie Smith! Those are two that I really love! But I also like that Ardam was okay with going there and putting her opinion out there and talking about it. I respect her opinion on them, even if I don’t agree. I wouldn’t mind either taking her poetry class or at least going over her syllabus and taking things out of it to read.


This book comes out on the 5th of April and is published by NYU Press. I was able to read the ARC thanks to NetGalley, but that has not impacted my opinion of the book itself.

There are currently 6 books in the Avidly Reads series, which you can check out on this Avidly Reads link.


“Poetry has leapt out of its world and into the world”

Poetry is everywhere. From Amanda Gorman performing “The Hill We Climb” before the nation at Joe Biden’s Presidential inauguration, to poems regularly going viral on Instagram and Twitter, more Americans are reading and interacting with poetry than ever before. Avidly Reads Poetry is an ode to poetry and the worlds that come into play around the different ways it is written and shared.

Mixing literary and cultural criticism with the author’s personal and often intimate relationship with poetry, Avidly Reads Poetry breathes life into poems of every genre―from alphabet poems and Shakespeare’s sonnets to Claudia Rankine’s Citizen and Rupi Kaur’s Instapoetry―and asks: How do poems come to us? How do they make us feel and think and act when they do? Who and what is poetry for? Who does poetry include and exclude, and what can we learn from it?

Each section links a reason why we might read poetry with a type of poem to help us think about how poems are embedded in our lives, in our loves, our educations, our politics, and our social media, sometimes in spite of, and sometimes very much because of, the nation we live in.

Part of the Avidly Reads series, this slim book gives us a new way of looking at American culture. With the singular blend of personal reflection and cultural criticism featured in the series, Avidly Reads Poetryshatters the wall between poetry and “the rest of us.”

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