“This book is about modern poetry.” That’s how David Orr begins his introduction to Beautiful and Pointless: A Guide to Modern Poetry. It is a fine way to begin a book. But it isn’t true.

Beautiful and Pointless: A Guide to Modern Poetry by David Orr. 224 pages. Harper. $25.99

I, for one, like a book that isn’t about what it claims to be about. More interesting yet is a book that continually redefines what it is about. Orr does that, too. After having claimed in the beginning of his book that he is writing about modern poetry, he opens his first chapter talking about what it means to be a critic of poetry. Poetry criticism is something Orr is well placed to talk about since he writes the “On Poetry” column for the New York Times and is… More…