In his influential poetry criticism, Stephen Burt links the contemporary with the classical, pinpoints new poetry movements, and promotes outstanding little-known poets.

Why you should listen

Stephen Burt is a serious fan of science fiction, indie music and women’s basketball, but what he’s known for is his highly influential poetry criticism. That list of passions, though, hints at Burt’s mission as a critic: he aims not only to describe new movements in the form, but also to champion under-the-radar writers whose work he admires.
 
Burt, a professor of English at Harvard, is passionate about both the classics and the contemporary, and his poetry criticism bridges those two worlds. He is also a poet in his own right, with two full-length books under his belt, and a cross-dresser who mines his feminine persona in his own writing. “I am a literary critic and a writer of verse, a parent and husband and friend, before and after I am a guy in a skirt, or a guy in blue jeans, or a fictional girl,” he has written. His books include The Art of the Sonnet (with David Mikics); Close Calls With Nonsense: Reading New Poetry; and Parallel Play: Poems.

What others say

“Few doubt that Burt's opinions help dictate who becomes part of the canon.” — New York Times Magazine

Stephen Burt’s TED talks

Stephen Burt on the TED Blog

Live from TEDGlobal 2013

The power of poetry: Stephen Burt at TEDGlobal 2013

June 13, 2013

“I read poetry all the time, I write about poetry frequently, and I take poems apart to see how they work,” says Stephen Burt as he takes the TEDGlobal stage. “I’m a word person. I understand the world best and most fully through words, rather than pictures or numbers. When I have a new experience, […]

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Live from TEDGlobal 2013

Imagined Beauty: The speakers in Session 10 at TEDGlobal 2013

June 13, 2013

Beauty is always a key theme at TED, and in this session, Imagined Beauty, there’s something for everyone, with speakers including a couple whose professions have required the coining of new words.  Meet the “cloudspotter,” the “mathemagician,” and the others who presented to us in this session of TEDGlobal. Click on their name for a […]

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