By Ken Tucker
Updated April 15, 2009 at 04:00 AM EDT

Verse Things Verse: In clear, conversational prose, Stephen Burt unties knotty contemporary poetry in Close Calls With Nonsense: Reading New Poetry, suggesting ways to read poems about ”what matters in life.”

Sample Line: ”Poetry lets us imagine that certain arrangements of words… can tell us what it’s like to be other people…and ourselves.”

Bottom Line: Burt makes you want to run out to a bookstore to get in on the excitement he conveys throughout this book. A