10 Dec 2016

Stephen Burt on poetry

From Saturday Morning, 9:10 am on 10 December 2016
Stephen Burt

Stephen Burt Photo: Supplied

Poetry can be perplexing… some say that’s the point. But writer, poet and critic Stephen Burt is here to help.

Four years ago, Burt – who prefers the pronoun 'they' – began identifying as both male and female.

“Sometimes I present as a woman. I was raised as a boy. People think I’m a guy often if I don’t tell them."

Burt says poetry happens to be an art form our culture doesn’t give us the tools to appreciate.

"You have to stumble across it or have a good teacher or decide to seek it out.”

That's where they come in.

"When I like something I want other people to like it to. I’m that way with pop music, I’m that way with food, frankly… When something gives me pleasure or helps me understand myself or helps me be a better person, I want to share that thing. And it’s turned out the thing I have the skill set to share and make a living out of sharing is largely poetry.”

On Monday 12 December, Stephen Burt will be part of a public masterclass, Close Calls with Nonsense: How To Read New Poetry, at Wellington's City Gallery.

Burt recently published a collection of essays, The Poem is You: 60 Contemporary American Poems and How to Read Them, and their latest poetry collections are Belmont and the chapbook All-Season Stephanie.