June 05, 2024

Elliott Professor of English Nathaniel Perry has published his first nonfiction book around poetry and parenting.

A book cover that reads, "Joy"Set to publish in July, Perry’s new book Joy (Or Something Darker, But Like It) “considers poetry in the context of parenting—what poems and poets might teach us about parenting, what parenting might teach us about poetry, and also, what either of those things might have to teach us about simply being a relatively successful human being,” according to the publisher’s website.

The book is included in the Poets on Poetry series from the University of Michigan, known for gathering critical works by current poets that express the poetic sensibilities of a new generation. The 12 essays in the book each examine different poets and themes of parenting and everyday life. Arranged chronologically, they mirror the growth of Perry's children, who make occasional appearances. The essays dive into themes of devotion, belief, imperfection, the many details that parents focus on, and the ideas parents convey to their children. Together, they not only showcase the author's personal selection of influential poets but also present American poetry in its many forms.

“This project began in 2015 when I decided to work on a few essays and didn't initially consider them as a book project,” Perry said. “It was only after I began publishing them in journals that I realized I had many pieces with shared themes that could form an interesting book. Needless to say, I am thrilled to have this book published in the Poets on Poetry series from the University of Michigan.”

Reviewers praised Perry for his brilliant fusion of parenting and poetry, and his profound understanding of the diverse aspects of parenting. According to Maurice Manning, the author of Snakedoctor, “Neil Perry may have invented a whole new genre—the close reading of poems as a step-by-step parenting guide, with not all joking aside—but the essays in this fine collection are much more than that.”

This isn't Perry's first venture into the world of poetry. He is also the author of two poetry books, Nine Acres and Long Rules: An Essay in Verse.

To read more about Professor Perry’s book, visit the publisher’s website: University of Michigan Press.

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