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American Poetry: The Twentieth Century, Volume 2: E.E. Cummings to May Swenson

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This landmark anthology, part of a series that will eventually cover the entire century, gathers nearly 1500 poems by over 200 poets to restore American poetry's most brilliant era in all its beauty, explosive energy, and extraordinary diversity.Included are generous selections of the century's great poets -- Robert Frost, Wallace Stevens, William Carlos Williams, Marianne This landmark anthology, part of a series that will eventually cover the entire century, gathers nearly 1500 poems by over 200 poets to restore American poetry's most brilliant era in all its beauty, explosive energy, and extraordinary diversity.Included are generous selections of the century's great poets -- Robert Frost, Wallace Stevens, William Carlos Williams, Marianne Moore, Ezra Pound, Langston Hughes; and undervalued poets like Witter Bynner, Mina Loy, Louis Zukofsky, Ogden Nash, Dorothy Parker, Robert Johnson; and a wealth of talented and overlooked poets, experimentalists, formal innovators, popular and humorous versifiers, poets of social protest, and accomplished songwriters.


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This landmark anthology, part of a series that will eventually cover the entire century, gathers nearly 1500 poems by over 200 poets to restore American poetry's most brilliant era in all its beauty, explosive energy, and extraordinary diversity.Included are generous selections of the century's great poets -- Robert Frost, Wallace Stevens, William Carlos Williams, Marianne This landmark anthology, part of a series that will eventually cover the entire century, gathers nearly 1500 poems by over 200 poets to restore American poetry's most brilliant era in all its beauty, explosive energy, and extraordinary diversity.Included are generous selections of the century's great poets -- Robert Frost, Wallace Stevens, William Carlos Williams, Marianne Moore, Ezra Pound, Langston Hughes; and undervalued poets like Witter Bynner, Mina Loy, Louis Zukofsky, Ogden Nash, Dorothy Parker, Robert Johnson; and a wealth of talented and overlooked poets, experimentalists, formal innovators, popular and humorous versifiers, poets of social protest, and accomplished songwriters.

30 review for American Poetry: The Twentieth Century, Volume 2: E.E. Cummings to May Swenson

  1. 4 out of 5

    robin friedman

    Twentieth Century Poetry In The Library Of America -- 2 This volume is the second of a two volume anthology of Twentieth Century American Poetry in the Library of America series. The LOA also has published a two volume set of Nineteenth Century American poetry, one volume of Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century poetry and a volume of American religious and spiritual poetry. American poetry richly deserves this extensive treatment, and this series may serve to introduce America's poets to a growing Twentieth Century Poetry In The Library Of America -- 2 This volume is the second of a two volume anthology of Twentieth Century American Poetry in the Library of America series. The LOA also has published a two volume set of Nineteenth Century American poetry, one volume of Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century poetry and a volume of American religious and spiritual poetry. American poetry richly deserves this extensive treatment, and this series may serve to introduce America's poets to a growing number of readers. This volume begins with E.E.Cummings (b 1894) and concludes with May Swenson (b 1913) The volume has almost an embarrassment of riches. By my count there are 122 separate poets included. The book includes a brief biography of each writer included which is invaluable for reading his or her poems in the volume. As with any anthology of this nature, the selection is a compromise between inclusiveness and quality. Readers may quarrel with the relative weight given to various poets in terms of number of pages, and with the inclusion or exclusion of writers. (I was disappointed that a poet I admire, Horace Gregory, gets only two pages, for example). Overall, it is a wonderful volume and includes some great poetry. There are favorites and familiar names here and names that will be familiar to few. A joy of a book such as this is to see favorites and to learn about poets one hasn't read before. A major feature of this volume is its emphasis on diversity -- much more so than in volume 1 or in the Library of America's 19th century poetry anthologies. There are many Jewish poets (including Charles Reznikoff, a long-time favorite of mine, Louis Zukofsky, Alter Brody, Rose Drachler, George Oppen, Karl Shapiro, and others) and even more African-American poets (Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen, Richard Wright, Waring Cuney, Sterling Brown, Arna Bontemps, Robert Hayden and many more.) There are also selections from blues and popular songs. Of the poets unknown to me, I enjoyed particularly Lorine Niedecker, Laura Riding, and Janet Lewis -- women are well represented in this volume. Perhaps an emblematic single line for this volume would be "My hand in yours, Walt Whitman --so" -- taken from the "Cape Hatteras" section of "The Bridge" by Hart Crane. Crane has more pages devoted to him than any other writer in the volume and deservedly so. "The Bridge" and "Voyages" are presented complete together with some of the shorter poems. This tragic, tormented and gifted writer tried in "The Bridge" to present a vision of America mystical in character, celebratory of the American experience, and inclusive in its diversity. The poem is a worthy successor to the poetry of Whitman who is celebrated throughout "The Bridge". This volume together with its companion volume in the LOA constitute an outstanding way to explore the richness, diversity, and artistic achievement of Twentieth Century American poetry. Robin Friedman

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kit

    An excellent anthology. Hard to believe it's limited to poets whose births span only 20 years or so, 1894-1913. An excellent anthology. Hard to believe it's limited to poets whose births span only 20 years or so, 1894-1913.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Scott

    Great for lesser knowns such as Countee Cullen, also for comparing more established contemporaries.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jon Corelis

    An attempt at a definitive collection Clearly intended to be the definitive collection of American poetry for our time, the two thousand pages of American Poetry: The Twentieth Century are as official as an American book can be without actually being published by the government. Their publisher is a non-profit organization founded with funding from the U.S. Federal government's National Endowment for the Humanities and the private Ford Foundation with the mission of embodying America's literary h An attempt at a definitive collection Clearly intended to be the definitive collection of American poetry for our time, the two thousand pages of American Poetry: The Twentieth Century are as official as an American book can be without actually being published by the government. Their publisher is a non-profit organization founded with funding from the U.S. Federal government's National Endowment for the Humanities and the private Ford Foundation with the mission of embodying America's literary heritage in a series of uniform editions. Most unusually, the book lists no editor, though the names of those given as the anthology's 'advisory board' evidence the highest possible endorsement of the American poetry/academic establishment. Despite its enormous size, vols. 1 and 2 actually only include poets born up to 1913, meaning the selections cover poetry of about the first half of the century: a further volume was supposedly forthcoming to cover the rest of the century, but to the best of my knowledge has never appeared. The lack of an explicit editor is matched by the absence of a preface, leaving the 1400 poems refreshingly to speak for themselves about why they are there. The brief explanatory notes secluded at the back of the book are useful though somewhat arbitrary. One of the book's most interesting features are the concise and detailed biographical notes on its more than 200 poets. The anthologists' aim has apparently been to preserve the importance of the accepted major figures of modern American verse while also giving greater prominence to poetries which previous cultural biases have de-emphasized or excluded. Thus the coverage of Frost, Williams, Pound, Eliot, Stevens, Crane, and other great names is as extensive as any traditionalist could wish, and indeed often includes interesting lesser-known works by such poets in addition to the ones which are in every other collection. But along with this, much more space than has been usual is devoted to women poets, allowing for instance the inclusion of passages of Gertrude Stein which are long enough to really demonstrate what she is doing; of generous selections from H.D.'s more ambitious later works; and of enough of the startling experiments of Mina Loy to enable you to decide whether you like them or not. The African American contribution to the country's poetry has also been highlighted not only by sections on Langston Hughes and Countee Cullen large enough to make clear how impressive their accomplishment was, but by briefer selections from a number of other poets who deserve to be remembered. And the inclusion of verse by John Reed, W.E.B. du Bois, and other radicals, if not wholly justified by its poetic quality, has a place in such a work to remind us that there was a time in America when leftist political activism was something more than a rare, eccentric hobby, and when, even more astonishingly, poetry was seen as a necessary and effective weapon of class struggle. The work's major flaw as a purported historical anthology is that it is hindered at its deepest level by the seemingly sensible decision to treat the twentieth century as an organic poetic unit, because this requires the disastrous omission of Whitman and Dickinson, who are the first and most important twentieth century American poets no matter what the calendars say. An anthology of modern American poetry without them seems continually to echo with their absence, and makes one realize anew that this poetry can only be ordered into a meaningful whole by reference to their presence. Though I hope those reading this review will find my comments at least provocative even if not convincing, I know most people will be interested in the question, Should I buy it? I would say if you actually want an anthology of twentieth century American poetry, you should either wait until the third and any subsequent volume come out (if they ever do) or get another standard anthology. And if you are a relative beginner at poetry, you may find these volumes' comprehensiveness daunting and might be better off getting one of the more selective standard anthologies. The serious student of the subject may find the book useful for its reflection of current academic poetry standards, its collection of biographical notes, and as a source of many interesting lesser known poems.

  5. 4 out of 5

    liz

  6. 4 out of 5

    Katie

  7. 5 out of 5

    Zita H. K.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ernest Hilbert

  9. 4 out of 5

    Luis

  10. 4 out of 5

    Vic Dillahay

  11. 4 out of 5

    Roger Denmark

  12. 5 out of 5

    Maggie Diaz

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

  14. 4 out of 5

    Danielle

  15. 5 out of 5

    Reem

  16. 5 out of 5

    Sharon

  17. 4 out of 5

    Irena

  18. 5 out of 5

    Marissa

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jason

  20. 5 out of 5

    Charles

  21. 5 out of 5

    Anthony

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kelly Neal

  23. 4 out of 5

    Andy Hoke

  24. 5 out of 5

    Leo Lambreton

  25. 5 out of 5

    Colin

  26. 4 out of 5

    Wendy Wagner

  27. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth Seah

  28. 4 out of 5

    Despy

  29. 5 out of 5

    David

  30. 5 out of 5

    Cecilia Robbins

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