Since issuing its first volumes in 1959, the Wesleyan poetry program has challenged the reigning aesthetic of the time and profoundly influenced the development of American poetry. One of the country’s oldest programs, its greatest achievement has been the publication of early works by yet undiscovered poetry who have since become major awarded Pulitzer and Bollingen prizes, National Book Awards, and many other honors. At a time when other programs are being phased out, Wesleyan takes this opportunity to celebrate its distinguished history and reaffirm its commitment to poetry with publication of The Wesleyan Tradition.
Drawing from some 250 volumes, editor Michael Collier documents the wide-ranging impact of these works. In his introduction, he describes the literary and cultural context of American poetics in more recent decades, tracing the evolution of the Deep Image and Confessional movements of the 50s and 60s, and exploring the emergence of the “prose lyric” style. Although the success of the Wesleyan program has inspired its share of imitators, no other program has had such a fundamental impact. Works by the eighty-six poets included her both document and celebrate that contribution.