Summary and book reviews of Killer Verse by Harold Schechter (editor)

Killer Verse

Poems of Murder and Mayhem

by Harold Schechter (editor), Kurt Brown (editor)

Killer Verse by Harold Schechter (editor), Kurt Brown (editor) X
Killer Verse by Harold Schechter (editor), Kurt Brown (editor)
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Published:
    Sep 2011, 256 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Marnie Colton
Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

A spine-tingling collection of terrifically creepy poems about the deadly art of murder.

In poems as various as the colorful melodramas of old Scottish ballads and the hard-boiled poems of twentieth-century noir, Killer Verse rounds up the most colorful villains and victims - from Cain and Abel and Bluebeard to Lizzie Borden, Jack the Ripper, and Mafia hit men - ever to be immortalized in verse. Browning, Hardy, Auden, Mark Doty, Thom Gunn, Simon Armitage, and Stevie Smith are only a few of the wide range of poets, old and new, whose comic, chilling, and occasionally profound poetic musings on murder are gathered together in this uniquely - irresistibly - heart-stopping collection.

FOREWORD

Among the countless dazzling artifacts displayed at New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art are a trove of lethal weapons, ranging from ornately carved aboriginal war clubs to medieval crossbows decorated with engraved ivory panels to French flintlock rifles adorned with silver filigree. What's most striking about these objects is not their beauty per se but how sheerly gratuitous that beauty is. After all, clubs, crossbows, and firearms kill just as efficiently without ivory inlays or Rococo silverwork. That the makers of these death-dealing implements devoted so much energy to their ornamentation reflects something vital about our species: our need to transmute our most savage instincts into art.

That paradoxical impulse is perfectly epitomized by the murder poem. Taking as its subject the very worst aspects of human nature - our propensity for crime, cruelty, and bloodshed - it shapes that disruptive material into order, wholeness, and meaning. There is, in fact, a wide ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year
  • More about membership!
  • award image

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Even for those readers not drawn to the often-gruesome depictions on display here, Killer Verse, like all the Everyman collections, offers an excellent primer on the cornucopia of forms available to poets. The editors have carefully chosen something to appeal to everyone: anonymous murder ballads dating back centuries; the immaculately crafted first person monologues of Victorian poets Robert Browning and Thomas Hardy; Tony Barnstone's contemporary sonnets dedicated to pulp fiction themes; and Philip B. Williams's incendiary tale of a cross-dressing young man who guns down his parents. These are just a few of the pieces that transform the worst qualities that humanity possesses into powerful art. While none of these poems can erase the horrible fact that murder exists, they all testify to poetry's willingness to provoke discomfort in the service of deeper insight...continued

Full Review (854 words).

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access, become a member today.

(Reviewed by Marnie Colton).

Media Reviews

Reader Reviews

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book

Cornelius Eady's Brutal Imagination

The chilling topic of filicide (the killing of one's child) casts a shadow over the pages of Killer Verse, as it recurs throughout several sections of the book - most powerfully in Cornelius Eady's "Birthing," a key poem from his cycle, Brutal Imagination, which was inspired by the murder of two young boys by their mother.

For nine days in the fall of 1994, the citizens of Union, South Carolina, as well as an increasing number of people throughout the United States, believed that Susan Smith had suffered the worst tragedy a mother could experience: the abduction of her two sons, Michael (age 3) and Alex (age 14 months), by a mysterious figure who had carjacked her at night on an abandoned road. Media coverage soon expanded from local ...

This "beyond the book" feature is available to non-members for a limited time. Join today for full access.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked Killer Verse, try these:

  • Death in the City of Light jacket

    Death in the City of Light

    by David King

    Published 2012

    About this book

    Death in the City of Light is a brilliant evocation of Nazi-Occupied Paris and a harrowing exploration of murder, betrayal, and evil of staggering proportions.

  • If I Am Missing or Dead jacket

    If I Am Missing or Dead

    by Janine Latus

    Published 2008

    About this book

    In April 2002, Janine Latus's youngest sister, Amy, wrote a note and taped it to the inside of her desk drawer. Today Ron Ball and I are romantically involved, it read, but I fear I have placed myself at risk in a variety of ways. Based on his criminal past, writing this out just seems like the smart thing to do. If I am missing or dead this ...

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member
Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year
  • More about membership!

Award Winners

  • Book Jacket: Becoming
    Becoming
    by Michelle Obama
    Voted 2019 Best Nonfiction Award Winner by BookBrowse Subscribers

    BookBrowse hosted a Book Club ...
  • Book Jacket: Butterfly Yellow
    Butterfly Yellow
    by Thanhha Lai, Daniel Suarez
    Voted 2019 Best Young Adult Award Winner by BookBrowse Subscribers

    As readers, many of us hope ...
  • Book Jacket: Olive, Again
    Olive, Again
    by Elizabeth Strout
    Voted 2019 Best Fiction Award Winner by BookBrowse Subscribers

    It's been a big year for literary ...
  • Book Jacket: Solitary
    Solitary
    by Albert Woodfox
    Voted 2019 Best Debut Author Award Winner by BookBrowse Subscribers

    According to statistics from ...

Book Club
Book Jacket
Evening in Paradise
by Lucia Berlin

"Berlin's new book is a marvel, filled with deeply touching stories about lives on the fringes."—NPR

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The In-Betweens
    by Mira Ptacin

    "A fascinating history of an American community of Spiritualists... a fabulous read."
    —Elizabeth Gilbert
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win Butterfly Yellow

BUTTERFLY YELLOW

Winner of the BookBrowse Award for Best Young Adult Novel, and the overall highest rated book of the year!

Enter

Wordplay

The Big Holiday Wordplay

Enter Now

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.