Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.

Qty:1
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
Only 11 left in stock (more on the way).
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.
Beautiful & Pointless: A ... has been added to your Cart
Condition: Used: Good
Comment: Item is in good condition. May include some wear and creases on the cover. Fast shipping. Free delivery confirmation with every order.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See all 2 images

Beautiful & Pointless: A Guide to Modern Poetry Hardcover – April 5, 2011

3.9 out of 5 stars 48 customer reviews

See all 4 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Price
New from Used from
Kindle
"Please retry"
Hardcover
"Please retry"
$25.99
$10.18 $2.28

Top 20 lists in Books
Top 20 lists in Books
View the top 20 best sellers of all time, the most reviewed books of all time and some of our editors' favorite picks. Learn more
$25.99 FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Only 11 left in stock (more on the way). Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.

Frequently Bought Together

  • Beautiful & Pointless: A Guide to Modern Poetry
  • +
  • The Road Not Taken: Finding America in the Poem Everyone Loves and Almost Everyone Gets Wrong
Total price: $45.84
Buy the selected items together

Editorial Reviews

Review

Beautiful and Pointless holds a mirror up to the poetry world itself. Orr starts from a brilliantly accurate characterization of what it feels like to read a poem, which should be up on the wall in every high school English classroom.” (Slate)

“With Beautiful & Pointless, Orr mingles humor with analysis in a way that should provide fodder for novices and academics in equal measure.” (The Onion)

“A passionate, nimble little book.” (David Kirby, The New York Times Book Review)

“Equal parts friendly invitation for the uninitiated into the joys and possibilities of reading poetry for the uninitiated and opinionated cultural critique of the contemporary American poetry scene. . . . The book covers a heck of a lot without getting lost in the esoteric.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))

“David Orr is an authentic iconoclast. His criticism is exuberant and original. Dr. Johnson, my critical hero, urged us to clear our mind of cant. Orr has cleared his. He will enhance the perception of his readers. And he wins my heart by his love for Edward Lear.” (Harold Bloom)

Beautiful & Pointless is a clear-eyed, opinionated, and idiosyncratic guide to a vibrant but endangered art form, essential reading for anyone who loves poetry, and also for those of us who mostly just admire it from afar.” (Tom Perrotta)

“David Orr reminds us that poetry is an ancient and living art, a robust American art, and not a commodity or vehicle for self-expression, social betterment, or career enhancement. He argues his case with passion, eloquence, erudition and good sense - and, as is his custom, not a little moxy.” (August Kleinzahler)

“A short, lively guidebook. . . . With informal spirit and playful wit, Orr invites readers to disagree with him. . . . He comes across as an engaged, discriminating reader-critic concerned with examining rather than selling us a product.” (William H. Pritchard, Commonweal)

Review

“David Orr is an authentic iconoclast. His criticism is exuberant and original. Dr. Johnson, my critical hero, urged us to clear our mind of cant. Orr has cleared his. He will enhance the perception of his readers. And he wins my heart by his love for Edward Lear.”—Harold Bloom


“David Orr reminds us that poetry is an ancient and living art, a robust American art, and not a commodity or vehicle for self-expression, social betterment, or career enhancement. He argues his case with passion, eloquence, erudition and good sense - and, as is his custom, not a little moxy.”—August Kleinzahler

'Beautiful & Pointless is a clear-eyed, opinionated, and idiosyncratic guide to a vibrant but endangered art form, essential reading for anyone who loves poetry, and also for those of us who mostly just admire it from afar.”—Tom Perrotta


“Equal parts friendly invitation for the uninitiated into the joys and possibilities of reading poetry for the uninitiated and opinionated cultural critique of the contemporary American poetry scene. . . . The book covers a heck of a lot without getting lost in the esoteric.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)


“A passionate, nimble little book.”—David Kirby, The New York Times Book Review
If you buy a new print edition of this book (or purchased one in the past), you can buy the Kindle edition for only $2.99 (Save 63%). Print edition purchase must be sold by Amazon. Learn more.



Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; First Edition edition (April 5, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061673455
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061673450
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #935,286 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

David Orr is the poetry columnist for the New York Times Book Review, and he teaches at Cornell University. His first book, Beautiful & Pointless: A Guide to Modern Poetry, was named one of the twenty best books of 2011 by the Chicago Tribune. He is the winner of the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing from the National Book Critics Circle and the Editor's Prize for Reviewing from Poetry magazine. A native South Carolinian, David lives in Ithaca, New York, with his wife and daughter.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
First off, BEAUTIFUL & POINTLESS is a fine title, and David Orr is a witty author. He brings a sense of brio and humor to his task, but he doesn't accomplish what he sets out to -- namely, to write a poetry book that Everyman can read and enjoy. Meaning? You're probably not going to get through this book, brief as it is, unless you a.) read poetry already, or b.) are a poet already.

Why? For one, Orr dives into such niche-specific subject matter as poetic forms, poetic "giants" (who deserves to be famous, who doesn't), and, most insider of all, poetic cliques of academia. I suppose you could argue that the last is important enough to get its own chapter, but most people would simply shrug and say, "Who cares -- do I really want to read about insider fighting among poets whose names I've never heard of and never will?" (Rhetorical question, of course.) Personally, I was not surprised that academia has affected (infected?) poetry-writing the way MFA programs have given us a "Writers' Workshop" style of novel, complete with scratch-my-back-and-I'll-scratch-yours blurbs of adoration from one novelist to another (the teacher or a classmate, usually). It comes as no surprise that the same is true of university poetry departments. After all, from corporate drawing rooms to middle school cafeterias, this is how the world works. I would have preferred to learn more about modern poets who are possibly the next Elizabeth Bishops or Robert Frosts, about techniques in favor and out, about, finally, what Everyman actually reads and why.

A little of that drifts in toward the end in the final chapter, "why bother?", which I found the strongest.
Read more ›
1 Comment 42 of 46 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is a delightful little book - you can get halfway through while waiting for your car to be repaired and count it as a useful afternoon. Unfortunately, that doesn't mean that the book achieves it's goal. This is a book that you could easily see chapters as having been essays in the New York Times Book Review. You can see the NYT Book Reviews readers (including myself) saying "that is well written", "that is an interesting perspective", "I need to keep an eye out for reviews by Orr".

However, David Orr intends to expand the reader pool for modern poetry. To a large extent his non-technical introduction should achieve that end. His division of form into metrical, resemblance, and mechanical provides an excellent framework - especially giving the mechanical (think Oulipo)poetry a place to fit. However, the majority of the poets he selects are poets-of-academia (poets you are assigned to read, not discover by word of mouth). To add to the "insult" he makes reference to poets and poems without including them, leaving the reader to (a) look it up online or (b) feel they've missed the point. In his discussion of political poetry we meet Brooks, Auden and Ryan ... but not the names that come to my mind when considering political poetry - Ginzberg, Forche, Levertov ... Perhaps I expected too broad a definition of "Modern Poetry" but Orr did not meet my expectations.

However, if you read poetry journals or wish to read poetry journals or even wish to pretend to read poetry journals, Orr provides some excellent insights into modern poetry and it well worth your time.
Comment 29 of 35 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The author protests a great deal, almost too much, about the reading of poetry and his intent to write for an average reader, an occasional reader, a sometimes reader of modern poetry. He covers the bases... from poetry as personal to poetry as some sort of post-structural semiotic war amongst the critics of academia. Along the way, his prose is very fun to read, and I started to think that this guy could write a great book about how to tie knots, or how to spackle a wall, he is that good.

Helping the reading of poetry by the non-poets of the world (and to some academic poets this group is already a group of out-group losers) -- this is a worthy goal, a hard task. As he went through lines of poems as examples, I could see what he was trying to say, hear it in the words read aloud, understand the playing field.

This is a unique book, sort of a guide to a lost continent, and it is just charming. There were times I thought the author had a touch too much self-confidence, but some of the poems he brings to clarity require such. Just a good book.
Comment 8 of 9 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
David Orr is a young man with the rare good fortune of combining both a vocation and an avocation. He is a practicing attorney and a graduate of Yale Law School. Orr is also a noted critic of modern poetry who writes regularly for the well-known New York Times and for the less well-known "Poetry" magazine. Orr's most recent article in the latter publication is titled "Poetry of and About", and it combines his vocation and avocation. The article examines a new anthology of poems loosely related to the law. Most readers will be unfamiliar with "Poetry". But Orr's new and first book, "Rare and Pointless: A Guide to Modern Poetry" develops some of the themes of the article in a way that is intended to appeal to readers with little familiarity with the bewildering world of contemporary poetry.

Orr's book is designed to introduce contemporary poetry to the large majority of readers who have no acquaintance with it. He writes in a free, informal, and inviting style which serves to invite readers who, with substantial reason, will regard modern poetry as a forbidding, arcane art form. Orr also has a gift for a quirky, idiosyncratic turn of phrase. He introduces startling and seemingly unconnected figures of a sudden and out of the blue before turning to show how the introduction pertains to the matter at hand -- much in the way some poets may introduce a difficult metaphor. How does Orr want the reader to approach contemporary poems? Many readers might think that this involves a quasi-spiritual approach or a technical approach with close attention to meter, metaphor, and language. But Orr wants the reader to approach poetry in the manner of -- Belgium. It is a matter of travelling to a foreign country about which one initially knows a little but not much.
Read more ›
Comment 21 of 27 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Most Recent Customer Reviews

Set up an Amazon Giveaway

Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers. Learn more
Beautiful & Pointless: A Guide to Modern Poetry
This item: Beautiful & Pointless: A Guide to Modern Poetry
Price: $25.99
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com