Ask a bookseller

Ask a Bookseller: 'The Poetics of Wrongness'

We couldn't get through National Poetry Month without featuring the works of at least one poet on Ask a Bookseller, and this week Evelyn Bauer of Papercuts Bookshop in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston, Mass., supplied the recommendation.

A white book photo with a blue and orange spot
"The Poetics of Wrongness," by Rachel Zucker.
Courtesy photo

Bauer recommends “The Poetics of Wrongness” by poet Rachel Zucker. The book is a series of lectures adapted and expanded for the page. Don't be turned off by the word “lecture,” Bauer says, think of it as essays written to be spoken aloud to engage an audience.

Zucker engages with the idea of wrongness in a number of ways, from the practical — the ways her teenage children correct her — to the societal. She explores the work of other poets who are pushing the bounds with their work, despite the risk of being told they're doing it wrong. She delves into the work of Sharon Olds,  Bernadette Mayer, Emily Dickinson, Adrienne Rich, Audre Lorde and others. In the process, she challenges outdated paradigms of motherhood, feminism and poetics.

Bauer says the book reads like a Kate Zambreno novel, and it's shaped some of the ways she reads and thinks about poetry.