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The Open Door: One Hundred Poems, One Hundred Years of "Poetry" Magazine

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When Harriet Monroe founded Poetry magazine in Chicago in 1912, she began with an image: the Open Door. “May the great poet we are looking for never find it shut, or half-shut, against his ample genius!” For a century, the most important and enduring poets have walked through that door—William Carlos Williams and Wallace Stevens in its first years, Rae Armantrout and Kay R When Harriet Monroe founded Poetry magazine in Chicago in 1912, she began with an image: the Open Door. “May the great poet we are looking for never find it shut, or half-shut, against his ample genius!” For a century, the most important and enduring poets have walked through that door—William Carlos Williams and Wallace Stevens in its first years, Rae Armantrout and Kay Ryan in 2011. And at the same time, Poetry continues to discover the new voices who will be read a century from now. Poetry’s archives are incomparable, and to celebrate the magazine’s centennial, editors Don Share and Christian Wiman combed them to create a new kind of anthology, energized by the self-imposed limitation to one hundred poems. Rather than attempting to be exhaustive or definitive—or even to offer the most familiar works—they have assembled a collection of poems that, in their juxtaposition, echo across a century of poetry. Adrienne Rich appears alongside Charles Bukowski; poems by Isaac Rosenberg and Randall Jarrell on the two world wars flank a devastating Vietnam War poem by the lesser-known George Starbuck; August Kleinzahler’s “The Hereafter” precedes “Prufrock,” casting Eliot’s masterpiece in a new light. Short extracts from Poetry’s letters and criticism punctuate the verse selections, hinting at themes and threads and serving as guides, interlocutors, or dissenting voices. The resulting volume is an anthology like no other, a celebration of idiosyncrasy and invention, a vital monument to an institution that refuses to be static, and, most of all, a book that lovers of poetry will devour, debate, and keep close at hand.


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When Harriet Monroe founded Poetry magazine in Chicago in 1912, she began with an image: the Open Door. “May the great poet we are looking for never find it shut, or half-shut, against his ample genius!” For a century, the most important and enduring poets have walked through that door—William Carlos Williams and Wallace Stevens in its first years, Rae Armantrout and Kay R When Harriet Monroe founded Poetry magazine in Chicago in 1912, she began with an image: the Open Door. “May the great poet we are looking for never find it shut, or half-shut, against his ample genius!” For a century, the most important and enduring poets have walked through that door—William Carlos Williams and Wallace Stevens in its first years, Rae Armantrout and Kay Ryan in 2011. And at the same time, Poetry continues to discover the new voices who will be read a century from now. Poetry’s archives are incomparable, and to celebrate the magazine’s centennial, editors Don Share and Christian Wiman combed them to create a new kind of anthology, energized by the self-imposed limitation to one hundred poems. Rather than attempting to be exhaustive or definitive—or even to offer the most familiar works—they have assembled a collection of poems that, in their juxtaposition, echo across a century of poetry. Adrienne Rich appears alongside Charles Bukowski; poems by Isaac Rosenberg and Randall Jarrell on the two world wars flank a devastating Vietnam War poem by the lesser-known George Starbuck; August Kleinzahler’s “The Hereafter” precedes “Prufrock,” casting Eliot’s masterpiece in a new light. Short extracts from Poetry’s letters and criticism punctuate the verse selections, hinting at themes and threads and serving as guides, interlocutors, or dissenting voices. The resulting volume is an anthology like no other, a celebration of idiosyncrasy and invention, a vital monument to an institution that refuses to be static, and, most of all, a book that lovers of poetry will devour, debate, and keep close at hand.

30 review for The Open Door: One Hundred Poems, One Hundred Years of "Poetry" Magazine

  1. 5 out of 5

    robin friedman

    Poetry Magazine At One Hundred This outstanding new anthology "The Open Door: 100 Poems 100 Years of Poetry Magazine" celebrates the 100th anniversary of "Poetry" magazine. The title. "The Open Door", derives from Harriet Monroe, the magazine's founder who envisioned a publication that would be open to all types and schools of verse as long as the works displayed high literary merit. This anthology shows that the magazine has over its first century fulfilled Monroe's goal of providing an "Open Doo Poetry Magazine At One Hundred This outstanding new anthology "The Open Door: 100 Poems 100 Years of Poetry Magazine" celebrates the 100th anniversary of "Poetry" magazine. The title. "The Open Door", derives from Harriet Monroe, the magazine's founder who envisioned a publication that would be open to all types and schools of verse as long as the works displayed high literary merit. This anthology shows that the magazine has over its first century fulfilled Monroe's goal of providing an "Open Door" to the best of modern verse. The volume presents a diversity of styles and poets ranging from modernism to more traditionally written poems. The editors, Don Share and Christian Wiman, have made a commendable effort to provide an anthology of high quality works in different styles that still will be generally accessible to a broad spectrum of readers. Christian Wiman introduces the volume with an essay: "Mastery and Mystery: Twenty-One Ways to Read a Century" that both offers insight into modern poetry and also discusses several of the individual poems in the collection. The poems in the volume are interspersed with passages of prose on the nature of poetry that are also drawn from the magazine. Biographies of each of the 100 poets included in the anthology conclude the volume. The volume covers the years from 1912 -2011, with the date and month in which the poem was published in "Poetry" indicated. Most of the poems are short. The collection begins with a seminal work of literary modernism, Ezra Pound's two-line poem "In a Station of the Metro" first published in August, 1913. Among other famous selections are T.S.Elliott's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufock" (June 1915), William Butler Yeats' "The Fisherman" (February 1916), Hart Crane's "At Melville's Tomb" (October 1926), and Wallace Stevens' "Tea at the Palaz of Hoon" (October 1921). The anthology also includes many poems by writers famous and writers less well known to most readers. Authors include E.E.Cummings, Adrienne Rich, George Oppen, Basil Bunting, and Samuel Menashe The poems have settings in cities and in countries. Some are humorous while others are tragic, contemplative and religious. Some are political. The poems discuss the power of the imagination, the world of the everyday, death, love, family, and culture. Modernism treats universal themes in its own varied ways. The poems are not arranged chronologically. Instead, poems from authors with widely differing perspectives are frequently placed together, allowing the poems to illuminate one another. One of the pleasures of this volume will be reading famous poems together with wonderful works that may be unfamiliar. Each reader will find his or her own favorites in this collection. I enjoyed finding Donald Justice's poem "Men at Forty", first published in "Poetry" in May 1966. This is a sad poem about aging and the assumption of adult responsibility that I have loved for many years. The underground poet Charles Bukowski is also represented in the collection in a poem titled "A Not so Good Night in the San Pedro of the World" published in the magazine in September 1993. This poem concludes with Bukowski's inimitable line "let us celebrate the stupidity of our/endurance." In the introduction to the anthology, Wiman suggests this line of Bukowski as an ironic title for the volume and for "Poetry"'s perseverance over the 100 years of its publishing life. This anthology offers lovers of the art the opportunity to explore modern poetry from the first century of Poetry Magazine. Robin Friedman

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jenny (Reading Envy)

    From 100 years of Poetry Magazine, the current editors selected 100 poems for this anthology. It is fantastic. Well balanced between well-known poets and obscure poets, covering all decades and styles. The new is interfiled with the old, and there is no grouping by subject or age. I loved that approach because it made each poem like the palate cleanser of the one before it. I started trying to guess when poems were written before finishing them, and wondering if poetry changed in the same ways c From 100 years of Poetry Magazine, the current editors selected 100 poems for this anthology. It is fantastic. Well balanced between well-known poets and obscure poets, covering all decades and styles. The new is interfiled with the old, and there is no grouping by subject or age. I loved that approach because it made each poem like the palate cleanser of the one before it. I started trying to guess when poems were written before finishing them, and wondering if poetry changed in the same ways classical music did in the 20th century. (That is a topic for a broader study.) Apparently I like the non-tree poems of the 1930s. My favorites, in the order I encountered them, included: On Visiting a Borrowed Country House in Arcadia by A. E. Stallings (2007) Meditation on a Grapefruit by Craig Arnold (2009) Night by Louise Bogan (1962) Pig Song* by Margaret Atwood (1974) A Not So Good Night in the San Pedro of the World by Charles Bukowski (1993) Rendezvous by Edna St. Vincent Millay (1939) Of all of these, I loved the St. Vincent Millay the best. I must read more of her work! *This poem may contain the foundation of the pigoons found in the MaddAddam Trilogy.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Alarie

    I was expecting a slog through 60-70 years of outdated writing to reach a few gems. I was so wrong. First I applaud the editors for not running the poems in chronological order. The mix of old and new proves how artificial those labels can be, illustrating Ezra Pound’s belief that “poetry is news that stays news.” The editors admit that many poems they sorted through no longer seem fresh or relevant, but they chose the ones with staying power. Almost as enjoyable as the poems themselves are the I was expecting a slog through 60-70 years of outdated writing to reach a few gems. I was so wrong. First I applaud the editors for not running the poems in chronological order. The mix of old and new proves how artificial those labels can be, illustrating Ezra Pound’s belief that “poetry is news that stays news.” The editors admit that many poems they sorted through no longer seem fresh or relevant, but they chose the ones with staying power. Almost as enjoyable as the poems themselves are the many quotes about poetry scattered through the book. One of my favorite quotes came from Editor Christian Wiman in the introduction: "...one of poetry's powers is to reanimate a reality that has gone gray for us, or maybe not gray, maybe perfectly pleasant but ungraspable somehow, the days flashing past like images seen from a train."

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jonna Higgins-Freese

    Most anthologies will have a gem or two that speaks to me, but this one felt too literary -- too much form and not enough heart.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Brendan

    This is a quirky anthology, which is, I guess, what the editors wanted it to be. Christian Wiman writes in his introduction that they deliberately wanted to avoid making an "exhaustive" or "inclusive" book, which is one reason they limited themselves to exactly 100 poems by 100 different poets published over the 100 years of Poetry magazine. They also wanted to avoid a "greatest hits" approach by resurrecting some unjustly forgotten names. The book is arranged out of chronological sequence, and This is a quirky anthology, which is, I guess, what the editors wanted it to be. Christian Wiman writes in his introduction that they deliberately wanted to avoid making an "exhaustive" or "inclusive" book, which is one reason they limited themselves to exactly 100 poems by 100 different poets published over the 100 years of Poetry magazine. They also wanted to avoid a "greatest hits" approach by resurrecting some unjustly forgotten names. The book is arranged out of chronological sequence, and the poems are broken up by occasional snippets of prose from "the back of the book." It begins (obviously) with Pound's "In a Station at the Metro" and ends (wonderfully) with Yeats's "The Fisherman," from 1916. You'd think this arrangement would make for an exciting and surprising collection, and it does, but only up to a point. Some standard anthology pieces are here -- along with the Pound touchstone, there is Eliot's "Prufrock," Auden's "The Shield of Achilles," Plath's "Fever 103," James Wright's "The Blessing," and so on -- while others are avoided: Instead of the obvious Wallace Stevens choice, "Sunday Morning," the editors go with the less familiar "Tea at the Palaz of Hoon." Still, I can't help but question some omissions. Where, for instance, is Robert Frost, who had several good poems in the magazine? Where, too, are Robert Lowell and Elizabeth Bishop -- especially since the editors included flabby and minor poems from their lesser peers Randall Jarrell, John Berryman, Theodore Roetke, and Delmore Schwartz. With Bishop, the they had less-familiar-but-great poems like "A Miracle for Breakfast" and "The Mountain" in the magazine's archives to choose from. There is also a weird error in the table of contents, which promises a John Ashbery poem on page 151, where you find an unannounced Frank O'Hara poem instead. I also wish the editors would have risked expanding the page count by including the entirety of long poems they only excerpt here: Basil Bunting's "Briggflatts" and Frank Bidart's 800-odd line "The Third Hour of the Night," which was the only poem published in the October 2004 issue, but of which we get only two pages here. Christian Wiman shows a clear preference for his own editorship: out of 100 poems representing a century, 32 are from the last decade, since Wiman took over in 2003. From the years 1970 to 2002, there are only 15. I suppose Wiman is trying to make the case that the last decade marked Poetry's return to the vitality and trendsetting "newness" that it enjoyed in its first. Well, maybe. There are a lot of very good poems in there, sure, including a bunch that I seem to have missed as a regular subscriber and reader. One in particular that I'm delighted to have discovered is Craig Arnold's "Meditation on a Grapefruit," from 2009. But what really made Poetry fun in the middle years of the last decade was the back pages -- the deliberately controversial essays and sometimes vicious reviews of new poetry books, and the fights, sometimes lasting for months, that would result in the letters section. Sadly, the back pages these days have more or less reverted to boring tameness, and many issues don't have any letters at all, angry or otherwise. On the whole, though, there is more than enough surprise in this book to make it worth picking up. I can pretty much guarantee that you will find something in it that is entirely new to you.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jeanette Cleveland

    It has been a long time that I have seen a book anywhere that I just had to stop all other books and read this one because of a number of factors. Though I am not sure I would recommend for everyone to conquer this in one day like I did. Though the respect and appreciation for each piece is there. It was like running into some old friends after 20 years of not seeing each other. Great pieces all together just waiting their turn to tell their story. Bravo on this collection of works.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Mike Hammer

    a decent collection, good variety of poems, which is to be expected over 100 years, some big names like ee cummings rita dove william carlos williams and yeats, but no poems that knocked my socks off -a solid collection for a person exploring poetry tho

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    A solid collection of not-the-same-old stuff.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Lauren Albert

    I don't tend to read anthologies from cover to cover. But I've read enough to recommend it. An interesting and diverse selection of poetry as well as a good introduction. I don't tend to read anthologies from cover to cover. But I've read enough to recommend it. An interesting and diverse selection of poetry as well as a good introduction.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Steven Tomcavage

    How can you go wrong with an anthology of the best poems from Poetry magazine as chosen by its editors? Answer: you can't. An amazing treasure trove of the past 100 years in the world of verse. How can you go wrong with an anthology of the best poems from Poetry magazine as chosen by its editors? Answer: you can't. An amazing treasure trove of the past 100 years in the world of verse.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kim G

    Obviously there are some 5 star gems here, but this collection leans on the last decade to its detriment, and some of the older choices feel more like leftovers.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Aimee

    I don't know, it just left me thinking "whatever." Even pieces by some of my favorite poets were like the cast-offs that didn't make it into a collection of gems. I don't know, it just left me thinking "whatever." Even pieces by some of my favorite poets were like the cast-offs that didn't make it into a collection of gems.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Penny

    3-1/2 stars What you may like most about this volume of poems may be not the poetry, but all the many quotations about poetry that are scattered throughout, every 5 or so pages. They earned the extra 1/2 star in my rating. The book is an odd conglomeration, and contains many poems that are unnecessarily oblique. There are many poets whose names you will recognize, but you may not know the poem chosen. One of my favorite poems of all time is in here, though – “The Illiterate” by William Meredith, s 3-1/2 stars What you may like most about this volume of poems may be not the poetry, but all the many quotations about poetry that are scattered throughout, every 5 or so pages. They earned the extra 1/2 star in my rating. The book is an odd conglomeration, and contains many poems that are unnecessarily oblique. There are many poets whose names you will recognize, but you may not know the poem chosen. One of my favorite poems of all time is in here, though – “The Illiterate” by William Meredith, so perhaps I am being too critical. Am editing to add that a poem from 2004 can be across the page from a poem from 1958. I think I would have appreciated a chronological volume - if the poem reflects something about an era, you suddenly realize you have jumped back (or forward) in time and are thinking about the wrong events, situations, or wars.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Brendan

    Not as many gems as one might expect. But there are few bad poems. Some comments on poetry from notable poets. Favorites: "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" - T.S. Eliot "On Visiting a Borrowed Country House in Arcadia" - A.E. Stallings "Search Party" - W.S. Merwin "Our Bodies" - Denise Levertov "Old Folk's Home, Jerusalem" - Rita Dove "Heatwave" - Ted Hughes let us celebrate the stupidity of our endurance - Charles Bukowski, "A Not So Good Night in the San Pedro of the World" A bad poem is full of Engl Not as many gems as one might expect. But there are few bad poems. Some comments on poetry from notable poets. Favorites: "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" - T.S. Eliot "On Visiting a Borrowed Country House in Arcadia" - A.E. Stallings "Search Party" - W.S. Merwin "Our Bodies" - Denise Levertov "Old Folk's Home, Jerusalem" - Rita Dove "Heatwave" - Ted Hughes let us celebrate the stupidity of our endurance - Charles Bukowski, "A Not So Good Night in the San Pedro of the World" A bad poem is full of English literature. - William Carlos Williams

  15. 4 out of 5

    Frieantpieaggio

    Ezra Pound - In a Station of the Metro LeRoi Jones - Valéry as Dictator Laura Kasischke - Look Craig Arnold -Meditation on a Grapefruit P.K. Page - My Chosen Landscape Alice Fulton - What I Like Lisel Mueller - In the Thriving Season Jeanne Murray Walker - Little Blessing for My Floater Rachel Wetzsteon - On Leaving the Bachelerotte Brunch George Oppen - Birthplace: New Rochelle Maria Hummel - Station

  16. 5 out of 5

    Thomasin Propson

    I very much liked the introductory essay by Christian Wiman. That the chosen poems are NOT in chronological order is a treat. As with most anthologies, some items will speak to you, others will not.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Chu

    This collection was my gateway introduction to contemporary poetry. It is always a pleasure to return to this basket of poems over the years. Experiencing James Wright's "A Blessing" alone was a revelation. This collection was my gateway introduction to contemporary poetry. It is always a pleasure to return to this basket of poems over the years. Experiencing James Wright's "A Blessing" alone was a revelation.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Powell

    Well chosen, well arranged. Poetry Magazine usually does well.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Mona

    Excellent collection of poems selected from 100 years of Poetry magazine (40,000+ poems in all). I like this long-ish quote from co-editor Christian Wiman in the introduction - it explains why poetry draws me in and why this collection worked for me: "You don't need to know a thing about quantum entanglement, wherein one atom can affect another even though they are separated by tremendous distance, to have some sense that our lives are always larger than the physical limitations within which the Excellent collection of poems selected from 100 years of Poetry magazine (40,000+ poems in all). I like this long-ish quote from co-editor Christian Wiman in the introduction - it explains why poetry draws me in and why this collection worked for me: "You don't need to know a thing about quantum entanglement, wherein one atom can affect another even though they are separated by tremendous distance, to have some sense that our lives are always larger than the physical limitations within which they occur. We exist apart from our existences, you might say; we are connected to the world and to other people in ways we will never be able to fully articulate or understand - and we assert our iron wills and ravenous hungers at our own peril. There is such a thing as a collective unconscious. There is such a thing as a spirit of place, and it reaches beyond geography. And poetry, which is a kind of quantum entanglement in language, is not simply a way of helping us to recognize the relations we have with people and places but a means of preserving and protecting those relations. For many people, true, poetry will remain remote, inaccessible, and on the same plane of perception as that Arctic refuge. But who knows by what unconscious routes poetry is reaching into lives that seem to have nothing to do with it? Who knows what atomic energies are unleashed by a solitary man or woman quietly encountering some arrangement of language that gives their being - shunted aside by chores and fears and who knows what - back to them?"As I read this collection, I added quite a few poets' names to my running want-to-read list. But the poems that especially struck me in this collection were: sorrows by Lucille Clifton On Visiting a Borrowed Country House in Arcadia by A.E. Stallings Meditation on a Grapefruit by Craig Arnold Night by Louise Bogan On Leaving the Bachelorette Brunch by Rachel Wetzsteon

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sean

    The first poem that grabbed my attention was Craig Arnold's "Meditation on a Grapefruit" (here: http://tinyurl.com/be2lf3h). Arnold talks about the humdrum, mundane importance of our meaningless rituals, in this case, the ritual "devotion" he has in the way he eats his grapefruit every morning, "a discipline/ precisely pointless a devout/ involvement of the hands and senses/ a pause a little emptiness/ each year harder to live within/ each year harder to live without." The poem struck a chord, b The first poem that grabbed my attention was Craig Arnold's "Meditation on a Grapefruit" (here: http://tinyurl.com/be2lf3h). Arnold talks about the humdrum, mundane importance of our meaningless rituals, in this case, the ritual "devotion" he has in the way he eats his grapefruit every morning, "a discipline/ precisely pointless a devout/ involvement of the hands and senses/ a pause a little emptiness/ each year harder to live within/ each year harder to live without." The poem struck a chord, but the impact was greater when I read in the editors' introduction that the editors had picked the poem for original publication in the magazine (Oct. 2009) the very day the poet disappeared while on a hiking trip near a Japanese volcano. The way he died (or just disappeared) was anything but humdrum, far beyond the mundane, so what to make of that?

  21. 4 out of 5

    Naomi

    When we compile and edit collections, particularly retrospectives, we're editing and shaping our memory again. Don Share's selections reflect the development of an American poetics over the past hundred years, and some of the pieces remain edgy and surprising. Were I to review the same hundred years, I probably would have selected different poems, shaped a different narrative, probably a more mystical and overtly compassionate one. That has much to do with what I seek in poetry. I have spent my When we compile and edit collections, particularly retrospectives, we're editing and shaping our memory again. Don Share's selections reflect the development of an American poetics over the past hundred years, and some of the pieces remain edgy and surprising. Were I to review the same hundred years, I probably would have selected different poems, shaped a different narrative, probably a more mystical and overtly compassionate one. That has much to do with what I seek in poetry. I have spent my life so angry and known despair so completely I might occasionally welcome a sojourning voice, but more often I seek out reminders of a life worth celebrating. There are some of those poems in this collection, but they are tempered by the harder and bleaker ones, and so I say it is a fine collection, worth reading, but there were few windows for my soul.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Benjamin

    I discovered it's the poems that capture time that are mine. They're the ones I keep long after I read them. This came to me as I read *The Open Door*. Writing spanned times and eras, starting the year before my grandmother was born. And I soaked it in. It was Donald Justice's poem "Men at Forty," that triggered this awareness, this gift I now know. Yes, it's the poem that stops time that's mine. What better way is there to come across such a neat collection of poems than to read *The Open Door*? I discovered it's the poems that capture time that are mine. They're the ones I keep long after I read them. This came to me as I read *The Open Door*. Writing spanned times and eras, starting the year before my grandmother was born. And I soaked it in. It was Donald Justice's poem "Men at Forty," that triggered this awareness, this gift I now know. Yes, it's the poem that stops time that's mine. What better way is there to come across such a neat collection of poems than to read *The Open Door*?

  23. 5 out of 5

    Olivia Olson

    I am yours. If you feed me garbage, I will sing a song of garbage. This is a hymn.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Bianca Sarah

    My every attempt to purchase this book has been thwarted. So we shall see.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Natalie

    A good anthology of poetry spanning 100 years. I just find that poems are better when you hear them read aloud.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Victoria

    09/27/16 This will be my September/October 2016 poetry pick. Abandoned for now. Not because I didn't like, but because I'm saving the rest for later! 09/27/16 This will be my September/October 2016 poetry pick. Abandoned for now. Not because I didn't like, but because I'm saving the rest for later!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    I really do not understand poetry. I liked some in this anthology but mostly I did not understand them.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jason Waugh

  29. 4 out of 5

    Emily

  30. 5 out of 5

    Court

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