One-Minute Book Reviews

June 26, 2008

Why Isn’t Poetry Ever ‘a Good Read,’ Entertainment Weekly? Books the Magazine Left off Its List of ‘The New Classics’

Filed under: News,Poetry — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 2:00 pm
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Isn’t poetry ever “a good read”? Entertainment Weekly has published a list of “The New Classics: The 100 Best Reads From 1983 to 2008”,,20207076_20207387_20207349,00.html that I wrote about earlier today. An obvious omission deserves a post of its own: EW includes no poetry on its list of the “100 Best.”

My choices for the list would include Collected Poems: Philip Larkin (1989) by Philip Larkin and Anthony Thwaite, Richard Wilbur: Collected Poems 1943–2004 (2004) by Richard Wilbur and Late Wife: Poems (2005) by Claudia Emerson. What others should have appeared on it?

How many of you, for example, would like to send EW Larkin’s “This Be the Verse,” which begins: “They fuck you up, your mum and dad. / They may not mean to, but they do.”? Many sites purport to give the full text of the poem, but because most of those I looked at are either misquoting or plagiarizing it, I won’t link to them. But “This Be the Verse” appears in the Collected Poems, which is widely available at bookstores and libraries.

Update at 3 p.m.: Just to give a more prominent place to a point I make in the comments on this post: EW might have acknowledged the existence of poetry by listing Dr. Seuss’s Oh, the Places You’ll Go! (1990). I dislike the oxymoronic phrase “instant classic” — which I have criticized on this site — but if ever a book has proved that it deserves it, it’s this one. I left Oh, the Places You’ll Go off my earlier post only because many Dr. Seuss books are better, including Horton Hatches the Egg.

© 2008 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.


  1. Hi. I’m looking to build up incoming links for my blog. Would you like to exchange blogroll links with me? If yes, please visit: and leave your URL there.

    Comment by CM'Blog — June 26, 2008 @ 2:01 pm | Reply

  2. You are so very right! It’s a darn good question…

    Comment by draabe — June 26, 2008 @ 2:02 pm | Reply

  3. Great debater: Thanks, but I don’t have a blogroll (which I accidentally deleted when I was setting up this site and have never been able to get back). The joys of WordPress …

    Draabe: I’d bet EW is going to hear from poets on this one. The editors could have acknowledged the existence of poetry by mentioning Dr. Seuss’s Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

    So many readers might argue that it belonged on EW‘s list. I left it off mine list mostly because I think other Dr. Seuss books are better (Horton Hatches the Egg, for example).

    Comment by 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom — June 26, 2008 @ 2:40 pm | Reply

  4. Oh, the Places You’ll go is one of those books that I have to read through whenever I pick it up, but am always crying by the end. It’s the mom in me–I gave it to each of my children as they went off to college, and it became an emblem of my grieving for their childhoods.

    Back to my beer.

    Comment by ggelliott — June 26, 2008 @ 7:44 pm | Reply

  5. Good to see this – thanks for that

    Comment by deanjbaker — June 29, 2008 @ 12:34 pm | Reply

  6. GG: Don’t you wonder what book people gave as graduation presents before the publication of “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!”?

    Dean: The omission of poetry from the EW list is telling, isn’t it? Thanks so much for noticing my post.

    Comment by 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom — June 29, 2008 @ 1:02 pm | Reply

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