“Biespiel’s supple memoir of becoming a poet will surely inspire other writers to embrace the bodily character of writing and feel the power and, sometimes, the emptiness of the act of writing poetry.” ―Publishers Weekly (starred review)
The Education of a Young Poet is David Biespiel’s moving account of his awakening to writing and the language that can shape a life. Impelled by the wonder and delight of creativity, and how the presence of books assists emotional development, Biespiel writes for every creative person who longs to shape the actions of their world into art and literature.
Exploring the original sources of his creative impulse—a great-grandfather who traveled alone from Ukraine to America in 1910, eventually settling as a rag peddler in the tiny town of Elma, Iowa—through the generations that followed, Biespiel tracks his childhood in Texas and his university days in the northeast, led along by the “pattern and random bursts that make up a life.”
His book as well offers an intimate and intensely personal recollection of how one person forges a life as a writer during extraordinary times. From the Jewish quarter of Houston in the 1970s to bohemian Boston in the 1980s, including treks through Iowa, Brooklyn, Nashville, and road trips across the United States; from Russia’s Pale of Settlement to a farming village in Vermont, Biespiel remains alert to the magic of possibilities—ancestral journeys, hash parties, political rallies, family connections, uncertain loves, the thrill of sex, and lasting friendships. Woven throughout are reflections on the writer’s craft coupled with a classic coming-of-age tale that does for Allston in Boston in the 1980s what Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast did for Paris in the 1920s and Broyard’s Kafka Was the Rage did for Greenwich Village in the 1950s.
Restless with curiosity and enthusiasm, The Education of a Young Poet is a singular and universal bildungsroman that movingly demonstrates “in telling the story of one’s coming into consciousness, all languages are more or less the same.”