Break, Blow, Burn: Camille Paglia Reads Forty-three of the World’s Best Poems is destined to become a landmark. In it, America’s premier intellectual provocateur explores and celebrates a series of great poems of the Western tradition, including some surprising discoveries of her own. She brings new energy and insight to our understanding of poems we already know, such as masterpieces by Shakespeare, Donne, Shelley, Dickinson, Lowell, and Plath. She leads us to appreciate the artistry of writers with whom we may not be familiar, such as Chuck Wachtel and Wanda Coleman. And she hails the songwriter Joni Mitchell as a major contemporary poet.
Daring, erudite, entertaining, and infused throughout with Paglia’s inimitable style and passion, this beautifully written book––and the dazzling mind behind it––will entice readers to begin or renew a passionate engagement with poetry.
“She flies as high as you can go. . . . Bold and convincing. . . . Exemplary. . . . A rich book.”
–The New York Times Book Review
“The chapter on Sylvia Plath’s ‘Daddy’ will take the top of your head off!” –James Wolcott
“As entertaining as it is dazzingly erudite, Break, Blow, Burn is capable of re-energizing any reader’s engagement with poetry.”
–Francine du Plessix Gray, The Week
“I hope a lot of people read this book. . . . There wasn’t a commentary where I didn’t learn something about the poem in question, no matter how familiar the poem was.” –Philip Marchand, Toronto Star
“It will have students storming the walls of tomorrow’s English departments, mad for poetry again.” –St. Petersburg Times
“Dazzling. . . . Bursts with her ingenuity. . . . Brilliant insights . . . permeate the book. . . . Readers receive a marvelous education.”
–Rocky Mountain News
“Paglia’s vision is always fresh. . . . She makes a fascinating and challenging reading companion. These essays will inspire anyone to turn back to poetry again.” –The Times (London)