Why you should listenStephen 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.
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“Few doubt that Burt's opinions help dictate who becomes part of the canon.” — New York Times Magazine
Stephen Burt’s TED talk
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