Excerpt from the book: “Story of a poem” by Michael Zapruder


Unnamed Press

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In his memoirs, “Story of a Poem” (Unnamed Press), Celebrated writer Michael Zapruder (author of “Father’s Day” and “Why Poetry,” asks questions about writing a poem and the meaning of communication, after his son is he is diagnosed with autism.

Read an excerpt below.

“Story of a Poem” by Matthew Zapruder

I’ve always loved words for what they can do and all the different things they can mean. I love how they feel in my mouth. In that sense, I am like all the writers I know. I am also very similar to my son. Now that I have become the father of a son who is working hard to become fluent in the language, my respect for communication in all aspects of my life has increased. The simple act of reaching out in writing to tell you something, and having you listen to me, and then respond, even if only in my imagination because you’re far away and I’ll probably never meet you, feels even more sacred to me.

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Poetry gives us the great gift of allowing us to forget, momentarily, that communication is above all functional. If we allow language to get away from us, and try not to use it but to follow it, we can discover something. It is as if the imagination were more like a tool, or a sense like sight, hearing or memory, a deeper faculty, something that opens up the world to the poet and the reader. When properly understood and deployed, the imagination can uncover truths not available elsewhere.

According to Lorca, a minor poet is content to imagine. A great poet is inspired, that is to say, breathed in by some force outside himself.

For me, imagination is synonymous with discovery.

I don’t believe in creation but in discovery, and I don’t believe in the sitting artist but in the one who walks on the road.

The poetic imagination travels and transforms things, giving them their purest meaning, and defines relationships that no one suspected.

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Poetry is like faith: it is not made to be understood but to be received in a state of grace.

Extracted from “Story of a Poem” by Michael Zapruder. Copyright © 2023 by Michael Zapruder. All rights reserved. No part of this extract may be reproduced or reprinted without the written permission of the publisher.

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