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Poetry Unbound: 50 Poems to Open Your World (Paperback)
“Mesmerizing, magical, deeply moving.” —Elif Shafak
Expanding on the popular podcast of the same name from On Being Studios, Poetry Unbound offers immersive reflections on fifty powerful poems.
In the tumult of our contemporary moment, poetry has emerged as an inviting, consoling outlet with a unique power to move and connect us, to inspire fury, tears, joy, laughter, and surprise. This generous anthology pairs fifty illuminating poems with poet and podcast host Pádraig Ó Tuama’s appealing, unhurried reflections. With keen insight and warm personal anecdotes, Ó Tuama considers each poem’s artistry and explores how its meaning can reach into our own lives.
Focusing mainly on poets writing today, Ó Tuama engages with a diverse array of voices that includes Ada Limón, Ilya Kaminsky, Margaret Atwood, Ocean Vuong, Layli Long Soldier, and Reginald Dwayne Betts. Natasha Trethewey meditates on miscegenation and Mississippi; Raymond Antrobus makes poetry out of the questions shot at him by an immigration officer; Martín Espada mourns his father; Marie Howe remembers and blesses her mother’s body; Aimee Nezhukumatathil offers comfort to her child-self. Through these wide-ranging poems, Ó Tuama guides us on an inspiring journey to reckon with self-acceptance, history, independence, parenthood, identity, joy, and resilience.
For anyone who has wanted to try their hand at a conversation with poetry but doesn’t know where to start, Poetry Unbound presents a window through which to celebrate the art of being alive.
About the Author
Pádraig Ó Tuama is a poet and presenter of the Poetry Unbound podcast from On Being Studios. He is the author of Poetry Unbound: Fifty Poems to Open Your World, Kitchen Hymns, and six other books. He lives in Belfast and New York.
A tender collection of [Ó Tuama’s] informal personal essays written in response to works of contemporary poetry.… [These] poems are playful, humble, and human.
— Eliza Griswold - The New Yorker
Irresistible.… Ó Tuama and the eclectic range of international poets he shares make an irrefutable case for poetry’s power to enrich and enlarge our lives, while at the same time focusing our overtaxed attentions on key questions and profound truths.
— David Wright - Seattle Times
A very good introduction to how to think about poetry. Even old poetry hands will enjoy and appreciate Pádraig Ó Tuama’s brief and insightful essays accompanying each poem, as well as the poems themselves.
— Literary Hub
Ridiculously good.… [Poetry Unbound] covers a wide range of topics, forms, and writing styles, making it a fantastic read for poetry-lovers and reluctant poetry-readers alike.… Maybe the best part of the book is Ó Tuama’s unparalleled ability to understand, interpret, and write about poetry.
— Kateri Kramer - Rumpus
[A] fascinating collection.… With grace and insight, [Ó Tuama] demonstrates how a poem can become a part of your life.… With his intimate tone, Ó Tuama takes poetry out of the classroom and puts it back into the hands of the reader. He thereby makes the world a better place.
— Library Journal, starred review
[A] uniquely intimate anthology.… Ó Tuama’s unassuming prose welcomes readers into an unfettered enjoyment of poetry for the sake of introducing new ideas, new lands, and new ways of being in the world.
Offering keen reflections on poems by Margaret Atwood, Ilya Kaminsky, Ada Limón, and Ocean Vuong, Ó Tuama juxtaposes critical insights with appealing personal anecdotes.… Ó Tuama has succeeded in organizing a valuable introduction to poetry for those just familiarizing themselves with the form, and a timely way to renew and deepen that appreciation for seasoned readers.
— Publishers Weekly
Pádraig Ó Tuama’s close reading of my ‘Wonder Woman’ poem was a gift. I was and am deeply moved.
— Ada Limón, United States Poet Laureate
The Poetry Unbound podcast, and Pádraig’s way of finding language to describe the details and intricacies and the shades of gray of the human experience have made me a better person, a better songwriter, and a better artist.… I would urge everyone to dive into this deeply rewarding book.
— Camila Cabello
Poetry Unbound is fifty poems and 300 pages of commentary revealing and confessing why a line of verse might make you weep. But more than that, it is a collection of moments and meditations and a turning toward the ways that some memories, of sorrow and joy, might make us hold on a little while longer, long enough in fact.
— Reginald Dwayne Betts, author of Felon
Magnificent.… Pádraig Ó Tuama’s abilities as a curator of poems, combined with his remarkable gift for unpacking poems in such illuminating and generous ways, make this ground-breaking publication one of the most engrossing books I have read in recent years.
— Stephen Fry
Pádraig Ó Tuama has been called to bring his illuminating insights into what some might consider encroaching darkness, and we are all the fortunate beneficiaries of his response. This book is a testament to the rare fineness of feeling and understanding that mark his brilliant work for the On Being Project.
— Lorna Goodison, former Poet Laureate of Jamaica
A poem to Pádraig is like a child to Mary Poppins. It sits, alert, in wonder that he should know it so well. I would go out at night to hear Pádraig talk of the poems. The next best thing, maybe even better, is Poetry Unbound.… There should be a copy of Poetry Unbound in every bar, every cafe, every train station, every bus station, every airport, every workplace, every school, every university, everywhere!
— Lemn Sissay, author of Let the Light Pour In
A wonderful anthology of poetry filled with fascinating and thought-provoking commentary from one of the best voices in contemporary poetry today.
— William Sieghart, author of The Poetry Remedy