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The Poetry Lesson Hardcover – September 5, 2010

3.7 out of 5 stars 12 ratings

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"You should read this book and absorb its lessons as soon as possible."
-J.C. Hallman, Quarterly Conversation --J.C. Hallman, Quarterly Conversation

Faced with time and mortality--the quintessential poetic subjects--Codrescu does what great artists have done for millennia: He tells stories, writes poems, and, yes, he teaches --The New Orleans Times-Picayune

As he goes through this three-hour Sorting Hat exercise, the professor sometimes feels great waves of tenderness for his students' youth, intelligence, and promise. --The Chronicle of Higher Education

Andrei Codrescu's new book is a small comic masterpiece. It is so funny that I laughed out loud. The Poetry Lesson is a delightful read--but also a disturbing portrait of academe today.

--Marjorie Perloff, author of the Vienna Paradox: A Memoir

From the Author


After 25 years of teaching, I revealed a secret method of making better human beings in my new book, "The Poetry Lesson," which I am advertising shamelessly here, because I asked my Ghost-Companion, Blaise Cendrars, what I should do, and he said, on page 152 of his "Complete Poems": "A banker tells us all about an artificial egg factory on the outskirts of Bordeaux." Now I'm no banker, but even I know that laying the artificial eggs of advertising is the chief occupation of public persons today. I have therefore laid this before you. It beats commenting on the upcoming elections, or other nonpoetic horrors that will decide what happens to us in the future. Poetry doesn't care about the future: it already knows everything.
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Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Princeton University Press; 1st edition (September 5, 2010)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 128 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0691147248
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0691147246
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 0.988 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 5.75 x 0.75 x 8.75 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    3.7 out of 5 stars 12 ratings

About the author

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Andrei Codrescu. I was born in Sibiu, Transylvania, Romania, where in the 16th century they burned witches, in 1989 they shot students, and now citizens don’t flinch when Europe’s second biggest theatre festival sets off fireworks at midnight. I emigrated to Detroit in 1966 where a revolution was in progress. Tanks of the 82nd airborne and National Guard shot at me for sticking my head out the window after the 6pm curfew. To avoid gunfire and meet poets, I moved to New York City in 1966. I didn’t speak English, which made it easy to communicate with natives using sign language. My first poetry book, License to Carry a Gun, won the 1970 Big Table Poetry award, to the chagrin of my contemporaries who were great but, unfortunately, fluent. In 1983, I founded Exquisite Corpse: a Journal of Books & Ideas, taught literature and poetry at Johns Hopkins University, the University of Baltimore, and Louisiana State University (as MacCurdy Distinguished Professor of English). I read fiendishly and used my vulgate and indo-european substratum to keep language from wasting away in the swamp of politco-psycho-bureaucratic trash. Since 1983, I’ve been a regular commentator on NPR's All Things Considered, because you can’t live on fighting kitsch every minute. I received a Peabody Award for writing and staring in the film Road Scholar, which started out cute but ended up making people cry. In 1989, I returned to my native Romania to cover the fall of the Ceausescu regime for NPR and ABC News, and wrote The Hole in the Flag: an Exile's Story of Return and Revolution. After this return, I reconnected with Romania’s majestic poetry, and started to write again in my third language (German and Hungarian, respectively the first and second). The result was a separate body of work in Romanian: poetry, essay, collaborations, criticism. English is still my primary language: the site of my books of poetry, novels, essays. The most recent are:

No Time Like Now (Pitt Series, University of Pittsburgh Press, 2019)

The Collected Japanese Ghost Stories of Lafcadio Hearn, which I introduced and edited (Princeton University Press, 2019

The Art of Forgetting: New Poems (Sheep Meadow Press, 2016)

Bibliodeath: My Archives (with Life in Footnotes) (Antibookclub, 2012)

So Recently Rent a World: New and Selected Poems (Coffee House, 2012)

Whatever Gets You Through the Night: a Story of Sheherezade and The Arabian Entertainments (Princeton University Press, 2011)

The Posthuman Dada Guide: Tzara and Lenin Play Chess, (Princeton University Press, 2009)

The Poetry Lesson (Princeton University Press, 2010)

A lot books, but I advise you to read them all or to get your friends to read parts of them, and then you’ll have the picture. Crazy. My work, correspondence, notebooks, art works, and sundry documents are at the LSU Hill Memorial Library, the University of Illinois/ Champaign-Urbana’s Slavic Library, the New Orleans Historical Collection, the University of Iowa’s collection of Twentieth-Century Avantgarde Art, and in a shed in the Ozarks. These repositories are filled with enough weirdness to keep one hundred grad students wearing out their keyboards. I’m prolific, but calm. I still have to make some movies.

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3.7 out of 5 stars
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