Don Bialostosky

Reading and playing

Scholars and critics too initiate “transpositions.” Even a casual observation can make a familiar poem appear in a new light, for example when Helen Vendler wonders, in her review of Wallace Stevens’s Selected Poems, what we would make of “The Snow Man” if it had been called “Stoicism in a Failed Marriage.” Sometimes such interventions go further, transforming our ideas about not only what a poem means but what it does and even what it is. This happened to me many times when I was reading Don Bialostosky’s How to Play a Poem, recently published by the University of Pittsburgh Press.

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