Poetry Unbound

Happy National Poetry Month! This week's review explores poetry in emerging media—including the much talked about "instapoetry"

Poetry Unbound: Poems and New Media from the Magic Lantern to Instagram

Chasar, Mike. Columbia, 2020
288p bibl index, 9780231188944 $95.00, 9780231188951 $30.00, 9780231548083 $29.99

Book cover of Poetry Unbound. Photo of bedazzled television box. Black and red lettering on a white background.

In this timely and engaging study, Chasar (Willamette Univ.) examines the largely untold story of poetry as it has appeared in various forms of emerging media over the last century and a half. He demonstrates how these media sometimes seek to burnish their own image by borrowing some of poetry’s cultural capital.  Such is the case with the early image projector known as the magic lantern, which is discussed in the book’s first chapter. Ensuing chapters cover such material as Edna St. Vincent Millay’s writing of poetry for radio broadcast, the appearance of poetry in silent and sound films, and the reception of contemporary “Instapoet” Rupi Kaur. Along the way, the work of canonical writers such as Emily Dickinson and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow share space with popular culture phenomena such as “Night before Christmas.” This eclectic mix of media and texts makes for a wide-ranging study, but Chasar points out in the afterword that many other areas of exploration remain for those interested in this line of inquiry. This well-written book will have a broad audience, particularly among undergraduates.

Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty.
Reviewer: J. W. Moffett, Kentucky State University
Subject: Humanities – Language & Literature
Choice Issue: Nov 2020

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