The Oxford Companion to Twentieth-century Poetry in English


This Companion is both an alphabetically arranged reference work and, in its sum, a history, a map of modern poetry in English. From the last decade of the century, it offers a survey of the terrain, from 1900 to the present, and from Britain and America to New Zealand, Pakistan, Singapore, Trinidad, Zimbabwe - anywhere, in fact, where poets write in English. It charts the shift from 'poetry' to 'poetries' - from primarily British and American traditions to a rich diversity of younger poetic identities elsewhere....
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This Companion is both an alphabetically arranged reference work and, in its sum, a history, a map of modern poetry in English. From the last decade of the century, it offers a survey of the terrain, from 1900 to the present, and from Britain and America to New Zealand, Pakistan, Singapore, Trinidad, Zimbabwe - anywhere, in fact, where poets write in English. It charts the shift from 'poetry' to 'poetries' - from primarily British and American traditions to a rich diversity of younger poetic identities elsewhere. The only comprehensive work of its kind, it covers not just individual poets - some 1,500 of them - but also magazines, movements, concepts, and critical terms. Edited and introduced by Ian Hamilton, himself a notable poet, The Oxford Companion to Twentieth-Century Poetry in English has the distinction of including among its contributors many other celebrated poet-critics, often in intriguing author/subject combinations. For example, Tom Paulin writes on Ted Hughes, Christopher Reid on Elizabeth Bishop, Clive Wilmer on Ezra Pound, Jon Stallworthy on Rupert Brooke, Peter Porter on Lawrence Durrell, Seamus Heancy on Robert Lowell, Femi Oyebode on Jack Mapanje, and Anne Stevenson on Sylvia Plath. These and other writers offer lively and opinionated critical assessments as well as biographical and bibliographical information. And, as one soon discovers, twentieth-century poets have lived far from humdrum lives. Twenty-seven here had nervous breakdowns, nineteen served time in jail, fourteen died in battle, three were murdered, one executed. One played hockey for his country. There were fifteen suicides, and one poet who staged his own death only to reappear, still writing poetry, under a new name. From Abse and Auden to Zaturenska and Zukofsky, this is an essential work of reference for students, lovers of poetry, and for poets themselves.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
More accurately described as a companion to poets than a companion to poetry- though it does include such entries as ``deep image,'' ``Georgian poetry,'' and ``The Hudson Review''-this reference focuses on some 1500 20th-century poets from all around the world who write in English. Edited by poet/biographer Hamilton, the work offers signed entries by poet-critics, including brief biographical sketches, overviews of themes, commentaries on style, general critical evaluations, and brief primary and secondary bibliographies. The articles are objective yet sympathetic to each poet's intent, with no particular critical perspective obscuring the issue. This companion has twice the number of entries as Contemporary Poets (St. James, 1991. 5th ed.) but provides less information, far fewer quotations, and shorter bibliographies. Both works are excellent, and both belong in libraries with comprehensive poetry collections. Other libraries may have to decide whether scope or depth is more important.-Peter Dollard, Alma Coll. Lib., Mich.
School Library Journal
YA-A standard reference work that will be useful for YAs who are interested in a brief biographical background and a broad-brush critical approach. Despite its title, this volume only covers English-language poets, but is extremely inclusive within those limits.
Zom Zoms
The old business adage that no one ever got fired for buying an IBM could well be applied by reference librarians to the "Oxford Companion" series. The series' consistent high quality at reasonable prices makes the purchase of almost any title one of the safest selections in reference This tradition continues with the latest entrant in the series, "The Oxford Companion to Twentieth-Century Poetry in English" ("OCTCP"). Described in the introduction "both as a reference work and as a history, a map of modern poetry in English," it covers some 1,500 poets. The majority come from the U.S. and England, although Australia, Canada, Africa, Asia, New Zealand, and the Caribbean are represented as well. Editor Hamilton--himself a poet and a biographer of poets--gathered a formidable team of more than 225 contributors to write entries that range anywhere from about a column in length to more than three pages (T. S. Eliot, William Yeats). Many of the contributors are well-known poets in their own right, so contributors such as Seamus Heaney, Carol Rumens, Martin Seymour-Smith, and Anne Stevenson are themselves the subjects of entries After Hamilton's introduction--a somewhat meditative piece on the changing currents of twentieth-century poetry--the volume opens with a list of anthologies of poetry and a key to the abbreviations used for contributors. The rest of the work is an "A" to "Z" listing of poets, famous poetry journals ("Hudson Review, The"), movements ("Agrarianism"), concepts ("Native American Poetry", "Translation"), and critical terms ("Feminist Criticism", "New Criticism, The"). Any bibliographies are integrated within the essays themselves and are typically listings of famous works by the poet as well as the occasional critical work Since the poet need only "have lived in the twentieth century, if only for a month or so," entries include poets that one might not necessarily associate with this century, such as Stephen Crane, Thomas Hardy, and Rudyard Kipling. Entries always include birth and (when applicable) death dates of the poet, basic biographical information, and a general appraisal of the poet's output Hamilton notes that he could think of no other volume covering 1900 to the present that includes not only poets, but also topical entries. His assertion is correct. The major competitor to this work so far as biographical information is concerned is the $125 "Contemporary Poets" (St. James, 1991), which features more extensive bibliographies and generally longer essays. A sampling revealed that only about 30 percent of the poets in the present volume have entries in "Contemporary Poets", a volume that does not include deceased poets. About 75 percent of the poets in "OCTCP" have entries in Gale's "Contemporary Authors" At $35, "OCTCP" is an exceptional purchase and is recommended for any size public or academic library.
From the Publisher

"Indispensable."--The Herald (South Carolina)

"Reference works with "Oxford Companion" in the title commonly become standards, and this magisterial work is certain to achieve that status....Invaluable."--Choice

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780198661474
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 4/28/1994
  • Series: Oxford Companions Series
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 624
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 9.56 (h) x 1.67 (d)

Meet the Author

About the Editor:
The author of several books of poetry, Ian Hamilton is also a well-known biographer whose subjects have included Robert Lowell and J. D. Salinger. Keepers of the Flame, a collection of his literary criticism, was published in 1992.

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