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Waxing Meta-Poetic: The Art of the Literary Blurb

by Rachel Levitt

Tags: essay writing, blurbs, literary reviews, Slate, The Page,

The lowly blurb is a necessary (though usually hackneyed) part of book jackets, movie posters, and magazine reviews. They’re not generally recognized as a form of literature, but maybe they should be. In an essay for Slate, Ron Rosenbaum waxes poetic about the blurbs used by reviewers and publishers to describe works of contemporary poetry. These blurbs, according to Rosenbaum, can be as lyrical as the works they describe, in many cases are actually “much better than most contemporary poetry, in the sense that [they’re] much more readable, much better crafted, and often beautifully compressed in a dazzling haikulike way.” This kind of praise, Rosenbaum writes, "is underpraised." Rosenbaum’s best resource for these two-line works of art, as well as great resource for essays and literary news, is The Page. You only need to read a few of these short-but-sweet quotes to see what he means.