The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Poetry Paperback – 1 Nov 1990
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From the Inside Flap
Dazzling in its range, exhilarating in its immediacy and grace, this collection gathers together, from every region of the country and from the past forty years, the poems that continue to shape our imaginations. From Robert Lowell and Elizabeth Bishop, John Ashbery and Adrienne Rich, to Robert Haas and Louise Gluck, this anthology takes the full measure of our poetry's daring energies and its tender understandings. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
About the Author
J. D. McClatchy is the author of seven previous collections of poetry and of three collections of prose. He has also edited numerous books, including The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Poetry, and has written a number of opera libretti that have been performed at the Metropolitan Opera, Covent Garden, La Scala, and elsewhere. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, where he served as president from 2009 to 2012. McClatchy teaches at Yale University and is editor of The Yale Review. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Top customer reviews
In this collection, edited by J.D. McClatchy, there is
enough magic to power a year's worth of David Copperfield
performances. Bringing together the disparate but somehow
harmonious voices of Allen Ginsberg, Sylvia Plath, Jorie
Graham, Elizabeth Bishop and sixty-one other outstanding
contemporary poets, this collection provides a wonderful
overview of our country's modern poetry movement. Such
classics as Plath's "Daddy" and Ginsberg's "Sunflower Sutra"
can be found alongside works by Denise Levertov,
Edward Hirsch and the beautifully imagistic James Schuyler.
Poetry these days, particularly as represented on the 'net,
seems to have become gritty and ultra-confessional. It is a
pleasure to read a work where the poets employ the old-fashioned
devices of metaphor and imagery to create powerful
emotions in the reader and to express something of their own
inner lives. Highly recommended!
However, I do have some quibbles and the first is the title itself. The majority (75%) of the poets featured in this selection were born before 1940 and more than half of the poets featured were born in the 1920s. Those who have survived are now in their eighties and, whilst I have the greatest respect for their durability, it does seem to be stretching the point to claim their work as the voice of `contemporary' American poetry. That's what it says on the tin.
The selection is also astoundingly safe and the biographies read like a procession of American poet laureates and literary professors in fifty seven varied but similar academic guises. In that respect, there is a sense that - rather like the The Best American Poetry 2011 series - this is the American poetry establishment publishing and honouring itself. I do not get any sense of the full on vibrancy and challenge posed by, for example, the influential and still highly relevant New American Poetry, 1945-1960.
But, these really are passing quibbles, I thoroughly enjoyed reading the anthology and for simply introducing me to the stunning work of Li-Young Lee I cannot recommend it highly enough. If however, you require an antidote to this parade of the already praised then I can do more than suggest that you turn to The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry and the selected poetry of Charles Bukowski (The Pleasures of the Damned). Bukowski, let it be noted, does not appear in this Vintage Anthology and he is even outlawed from the Outlaw Bible. How far left field do you want to go?
Obviously works by Sylvia Plath and Allen Ginsberg are included, but these really are the most well-known. Beyond that, readers will enjoy impressive poems by Robert Penn Warren, Frank O'Hara, Robert Lowell, James Merrill and John Berryman. Female poets who impress include Anne Sexton, Elizabeth Bishop, May Swenson and Denise Levertov. The cover of the book is suitably contemporary and the pages themselves have a pulpy-feel to them which enhances the notion of being privy to a journey into the demi-monde of American poetry as you read each one.
As with any anthology readers will always dispute what is left out rather than enjoying what is included. This book does everything it sets out to do: it is a very accurate snapshot of contemporary American poetry and focuses upon many of the outsiders, for want if a better term. It is a really interesting read and whilst you may not enjoy each and every poem, there is definitely something for everyone in this anthology that will make you want to read more by a particular poet.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
This volume has so many poems from some of the greatest poets that this review cannot do it justice. Even though I have always preferred short (One page or less) poem forms over the long drawn out and sometimes boring poems; nevertheless, this collection has something for every poetry lover. Some of the many poets who have contributions in this volume include the following: Robert Lowell, Elizabeth Bishop, Theodore Roethke, John Berryman, Randall Jarrell, Robert Penn Warren, J. V. Cunningham, Robert Hayden, May Swenson, Mona Van Duyn, Howard Moss, James Dickey, Denise Levertov, Allen Ginsberg, John Ashbery, John Wright, Ann Sexton, Mary Oliver, Jay Wright, Henri Cole and many, many other poets.
One of the many things I like about this book is the way they introduce each poet showing their date of birth (and death of the poet) and a short bio about each poet. I admit I enjoyed reading most of the poems in this collection, but as I mentioned previously I am not a fan of the long free verse poems.
If you are a poem lover this is a book you should check out.
Rating: 5 Stars. Joseph J. Truncale (Author: The Samurai Soul: An old warrior’s poetic tribute).
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