Equipment for Living

On Poetry and Pop Music

Equipment for Living

“Funny and smart” (The New Yorker) criticism of why we turn to art—specifically to poetry and popular music—and how it serves as an essential tool to understanding life.

How can art help us make sense—or nonsense—of the world? If wrong life cannot be lived rightly, as Theodor Adorno had it, what weapons and strategies for living wrongly can art provide? With the same intelligence that animates his poetry, Michael Robbins addresses this weighty question while contemplating the idea of how strange it is that we need art at all. Ranging from Prince to Def Leppard, Lucille Clifton to Frederick Seidel, Robbins’s mastery of poetry and popular music shines in Equipment for Living. He has a singular ability to illustrate points with seemingly disparate examples (Friedrich Kittler and Taylor Swift, to W.B. Yeats and Anna Kendrick’s “Cups”). Robbins weaves a discussion on poet Juliana Spahr with the different subsets of Scandinavian black metal music, illuminating subjects in ways that few scholars can achieve.

As Dwight Garner said in The New York Times about Robbins: “This man can write.” Equipment for Living is a “freakishly original” (Elle) look at how works of art, specifically poetry and popular music, can help us understand our own lives.
  • Simon & Schuster | 
  • 208 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781476747101 | 
  • July 2018
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About the Author

Michael Robbins

Michael Robbins is the author of the poetry collections Alien vs. Predator and The Second Sex as well as the book Equipment for Living: On Poetry and Pop Music. His selected poems are featured in the second volume of the newly revived Penguin Modern Poets series. His poetry and criticism have appeared in The New YorkerPoetryThe Paris Review, Harper’s, Bookforum, and many other publications. He received his PhD in English from the University of Chicago and lives in Brooklyn with the best cat in the world.  

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