In his hilarious account of the first day of a creative writing course taught by a "typical fin-de-siècle salaried beatnik" (one with an antic imagination, an outsized personality and libido, and an endless store of entertaining literary anecdotes, reliable or otherwise), Ovid Prize winner Andrei Codrescu offers neither a novel nor a memoir, but a sly satire mimicking aspects of each. "Intro to Poetry Writing is always like this," intones his narrator: "You take healthy young Americans used to sunshine (aided sometimes by Xanax and Adderall), you blindfold them and lead them by the hand into a labyrinth made from bones. Then you tell them their assignment: 'Find the Grail. You have a New York minute to get it'."
"This book, with its punishing, dread-inspiring title and pleading skeleton on the cover, is actually one of the funniest, most irreverent you'll read this year. Part memoir, part novel, part poem, part essay ... The Poetry Lesson requires the willing suspension of credulity and a reader's refusal to get offended, hard as Andrei Codrescu may try. He's not quite Borat in emeritus robes, but almost."—LATimes
"Andrei Codrescu's The Poetry Lesson, the description of a single, three-hour poetry-writing class, is genuinely entertaining.... Funny, moving, daring and even, at times, profound ... the book is a kind of ode to eccentricity, to imagination within the institution."—Times Literary Supplement
"This genially disillusioned, free-associative romp delivers plenty of pleasures in the course of 118 pages.... Faced with time and mortality—the quintessential poetic subjects—Codrescu does what great artists have done for millennia: He tells stories, writes poems, and, yes, he teaches."—New Orleans Times-Picayune
"The Poetry Lesson is a gem—a consistently engaging and entertainingly rambling meditation on teaching and poetry that is filled with Andrei Codrescu's quicksilver mental responses. His teacher-narrator keeps vacillating between denouncing the new, text-message order of his students and trying to ally himself with youth against old-fogeyism. This dance, as the teacher is alternately chagrined and amused, gives the book a lively pulse."—Phillip Lopate