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The Penguin Anthology of Twentieth-Century American Poetry

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  • Posted January 4, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Poetry in the Big Century - a must have anthology

    Typically, a new anthology of poetry is a little noticed event. Poetry critics at major newspapers question whether the art form itself has any relevance in the 21st Century. Thank you Rita Dove for parting the clouds! This is indeed a representative collection of the best poets from the last century. Insofar as such a task can be achieved, this work captures the rich, bold and varied voices of the big century. It was an era unparalleled for global strife, social and economic upheaval, advancement in industry, technology and science, and uniquely marked by rapid transformations in communications and the arts. Gratefully, this anthology has set off a firestorm. Credit for this goes to Poet Laureate Rita Dove for her innovative approach to compiling this work and to an important counterpoint provided by her longtime associate, Harvard Professor Helen Vendler. They have engaged in a well publicized debate on poetry, aesthetics, criticism and the relation of these to history. It is a debate well worth having. And more importantly, this is poetry worth the reading. Don't miss it!

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 8, 2013

    This is a very good anthology and a very nice looking hard cover

    This is a very good anthology and a very nice looking hard cover book. It is a great source for someone to discover and read samples from nearly every major American Poet of the twentieth century. I say "nearly" due to the exclusion of Allen Giensburg and Silvia Plath. The importance of Giensburg and Plath is made obvious by the fact that Rita Dove mentions their exclusion in her introduction. An editor's job is not always easy, and of course not every poet can appear in every anthology. I will say however, that for a volume that comes in at under seven hundred pages, Rita Dove, whose own poetry is well worth discovering, did a very good job. This collection is full of favorites as well as poems that for some, may be lesser known but are equally as good. Rita Dove has presented us with a volume that may not contain every important poet of the twentieth century, but certainly an anthology that will keep you up reading way past your bedtime. Enjoy!

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