“A Little History of Poetry” by John Carey

Thanks to Yale University Press and NetGalley for the Advance Review Copy in exchange for an honest review.

I was so excited to read this but having just finished it, I’m left with a sense of extreme disappointment.

Quite simply this book should be called A Little History of WESTERN Poetry because aside from The Epic of Gilgamesh and the briefest whisper of a reference to Chinese and Japanese poetry (and only in the context of talking about Ezra Pound) there is basically nothing at all about the rich poetry from the rest of the world (seriously, no reference to Persian or Urdu poetry??). Poetry from poets of colour is also very thin on the ground.

I did like how the book was structured and the chapter imagery was really nice. Books of this nature are only ever going to be an introduction but they are good for anyone who wants to learn more about the greats and the history of poetry.

I thought the writing style was engaging and wasn’t stuffy for anyone new to poetry or who finds it intimidating. The writer does seem to show some clear favouritism though which I found a bit annoying and conversely is quite scathing about some other poets. Let’s just say he is NOT a fan of Dante…

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