Stephen Burt, leading poetry critic, to discuss his book, "The Poem is You," September 29, 2016

Burt's new book of poetry criticism is "The Poem is You: 60 Contemporary Poems and How to Read Them," a guide to American poetry today

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Stephen Burt, poet and poetry critic, author of the new book "The Poem is You" (2016) Photo credit: Alex Dakoulas

ALBANY, NY (09/13/2016)(readMedia)-- Stephen Burt, "one of the most influential poetry critics of his generation" (The New York Times), will read from and discuss his new book, The Poem is You: 60 Contemporary American Poems and How to Read Them (Sept 2016), on Thursday, September 29, 2016 at 8 p.m. in the Huxley Theatre, New York State Museum, Cultural Education Center, Madison Avenue in downtown Albany. Earlier that same day at 4:15 p.m., the author will hold an informal seminar in the Standish Room, Science Library on the UAlbany uptown campus. Free and open to the public, the events are sponsored by the New York State Writers Institute and the Friends of the New York State Library.

Stephen Burt is "one of the most influential poetry critics of his generation" and "heir to the intellectual mantle long held by giants like Harold Bloom and Helen Vendler" (The New York Times). His books of criticism include Close Calls with Nonsense: Reading New Poetry (2009), a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist, and The Poem is You: 60 Contemporary American Poems and How to Read Them (Sept 2016), "a guide to the diverse magnificences of American poetry today."

Publishers Weekly said of The Poem is You, "Poet and critic Burt's ambitious anthology of recent poems by American authors, from 1981 to 2015, creates a coherent body of work out of the vast landscape of recent American poetry.... Burt's many ways of looking at a poem will inspire new students and accomplished poets, especially as many of his meditations circle the question of what poetry does, or should do: making readers pay attention, ask questions, and experience new things.... an impressive feat."

Burt is widely acknowledged to be a literary "tastemaker" whose discoveries of unknown and under-appreciated poets have frequently rescued them from obscurity. He is also a sought-after commentator on the enduring value of poetry in modern life. His TED Talk, "Why People Need Poetry," is widely quoted and shared, especially his assertion that poetry is particularly good at helping us live with the knowledge that we will eventually die.

A Professor of English at Harvard, Burt is an acclaimed poet as well as a critic. His collections include Popular Music (1999), Parallel Play (2006), and Belmont (2013), named a "Best Book of 2013" by Publishers Weekly, San Francisco Chronicle and NPR. The Los Angeles Times reviewer said, "Joy is new each time it happens-and it happens a lot in these poems.... Burt dismantles all cultural, psychological and literary idées reçues pertaining to childhood, identity, gender."

Burt's poetry frequently celebrates ordinary suburban life with his wife and kids in the Boston suburbs. The NPR reviewer said that Belmont offers "some of the tenderest, most beautiful, most sympathetic poems to have been written about life with children." At the same time, Burt is an unabashed cross-dresser who explores, in both poems and essays, the nuances and surprising complexities of gender identity. The New York Times has dubbed him, "Poetry's Cross-Dressing Kingmaker."

For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620 or online at