Steve Zeitlin

May 25, 2020

The Poetry of Everyday Life

Storytelling and the Art of Awareness

Cornell University Press 2016

purchase at bookshop.org

This is a book of encounters. Part memoir, part essay, and partly a guide to maximizing your capacity for fulfillment and expression, The Poetry of Everyday Life: Storytelling and the Art of Awareness (Cornell University Press, 2016) taps into the artistic side of what we often take for granted: the stories we tell, the people we love, the metaphors used by scientists, even our sex lives. A folklorist, writer, and cultural activist, Steve Zeitlin explores how poems serve us in daily life and how they are used in times of personal and national crisis. In the first book to bring together the perspectives of folklore and creative writing, Zeitlin explores meaning and experience, covering topics ranging from poetry in the life cycle to the contemporary uses of ancient myths." This convergence of poetry and folklore," he suggests, "gives birth to something new: a new way of seeing ourselves, and a new way of being in the world."

Written with humor and insight, the book introduces readers to the many eccentric and visionary characters Zeitlin has met in his career as a folklorist. Covering topics from Ping-Pong to cave paintings, from family poetry nights to delectable dishes at his favorite ethnic restaurants, The Poetry of Everyday Life will inspire readers to expand their consciousness of the beauty that resides in everyday things and to use creative expression to engage and animate that beauty toward living a more fulfilling awakened life, full of laughter. To live a creative life is the best way to engage with the beauty of the everyday.

The multiple author It Takes A Pandemic poem can be found here.

To hear Steve Zeitlin and Amanda Dargan’s “Double Coffin” bluegrass song, go here.


Rachel Hopkin PhD is a UK born, US based folklorist and radio producer.

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Rachel Hopkin

Rachel Hopkin PhD is a UK born, US based folklorist and radio producer and is currently a PhD candidate at the Ohio State University.

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