Advice from the Lights by Stephen Burt

Advice from the Lights

Stephen is sometimes Stephanie and sometimes wonders how his past and her past are their own collective memoryAdvice from the Lights is a brilliant and candid exploration of gender and identity and a series of looks at a formative past. It's part nostalgia, part confusion, and part an ongoing wondering: How do any of us achieve adulthood? And why would we want to, if we ha...

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Advice from the Lights Reviews

  • Darrel

    I received this book as part of a Goodreads giveaway and consider myself fortunate for it. I found the poetry within the pages here to be frank, ingenuous and endearing, nostalgic and agreeably tender. The poems in this collection reflect an exploration of how (often asking when) do we attain adulthood and more subtlety at what point do we become aware that we have. By all appearances the poetry seems to have been arranged chronologically which is a benefit to reading this collection. Several of

    I received this book as part of a Goodreads giveaway and consider myself fortunate for it. I found the poetry within the pages here to be frank, ingenuous and endearing, nostalgic and agreeably tender. The poems in this collection reflect an exploration of how (often asking when) do we attain adulthood and more subtlety at what point do we become aware that we have. By all appearances the poetry seems to have been arranged chronologically which is a benefit to reading this collection. Several of the poems are titled indicating the year that it is reflecting on (My 1979, My 1980, etc.) while a few other titles instantly inform what the poem's stanzas are written about (The Cars' Greatest Hits). Many have a personal nature to them, helping us to both understand the theme of the collection as well as reveal much about the poet (and their childhood/immediate past) to aid us in articulating the deeper meaning being conveyed here. I felt that it reads like a smooth flowing life-narrative actually.

    I very much liked quite a number of the poems here, with a handful of them containing lines of verse that immediately took hold of me, inspiring me to make notes in the margins so I could be certain to enjoy them once again when I return to the book. 'Advice From The Lights' is a collection of poetry that is well worth the time to read - especially for those of us readers who include poetry as a regular part of their reading routine. This is one that is not to missed.

  • Ashley

    I appreciate the perspective and some lines really spoke to me. I didn't resonate with some of the subject interests but I like the writing - especially Stephanie :)

  • R.K. Cowles

    A goodreads giveaway. A few poems were good. A few others has 2-4 good lines but the rest of the lines seems to me out of place. And the other poems I couldn't get into.

  • Marne Wilson

    It’s hard to know how to review this book, and maybe I would have done better if I hadn’t tried to learn anything beyond the text about the author. The book is credited to Stephen Burt, and some of the poems are in the voice of a female persona named Stephanie. I’m not sure how long ago the book was turned in and set for publication (the wheels of poetry publishing often turn slowly), but Google tells me that in the meantime, Stephen has transitioned into Stephanie full-time. (Read about it in h

    It’s hard to know how to review this book, and maybe I would have done better if I hadn’t tried to learn anything beyond the text about the author. The book is credited to Stephen Burt, and some of the poems are in the voice of a female persona named Stephanie. I’m not sure how long ago the book was turned in and set for publication (the wheels of poetry publishing often turn slowly), but Google tells me that in the meantime, Stephen has transitioned into Stephanie full-time. (Read about it in her own words here:

    ). It leaves me not sure how to discuss anything about this book as it relates to the life of the author, so I think I’m going to be a New Critic for the moment and focus on the text itself.

    The Stephanie poems are definitely the most lively ones in the collection, as other reviewers have mentioned. There are also many examples of a different kind of persona poem, written in the voice of animals or inanimate objects. (Some examples are “Kites,” “Roly Poly Bug,” and “Herring Gull.”) I enjoyed most of these poems as well. Burt obviously has a huge vocabulary, but the poems never seem pedantic or labored, as sometimes happens with poets enamored of polysyllabic words. There are also a set of chronological poems like “My 1979” and “My 1980” that give us a snapshot of the author at a certain age. These were a little harder for me to get into, as they are full of pop-culture references that would only make sense if you are exactly the same age as the poet.

    I’m glad I had a chance to read this book, and I hope my hesitation about how to review it won’t stop anyone from giving it a try.

    (Note: I received an advance reader’s copy of this book through a Goodreads giveaway.)

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