Thematic Guide to American Poetry / Edition 1

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This unique poetry resource offers interpretations of 250 poems, representing the work of 86 poets from a wide spectrum of historical, contemporary, ethnic, and canonical writers. Organization of this volume facilitates easy access to information on poetry for users' individual purposes. The main section of the guide contains narrative essays on 21 alphabetically arranged themes that recur throughout the rich history of American poetry.

In each section, the explications of individual poems are arranged chronologically to trace the evolution of a particular theme over time. Educators teaching thematic units will find relevant essays here appropriate as either background presentation, discussion ideas, or student assignments. Following each entry, the poems are listed with information about the anthologies in which they may be found. Most of the abbreviations used here correspond to the codes used in The Columbia Granger's Index to Poetry in Anthology, familiar to most librarians. This guide is ideal for librarians and teachers who need to identify and locate poems on a given theme, and for students and lovers of poetry who wish to enrich their understanding of the thematic meanings of poems.

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Editorial Reviews

Addressing America's intellectual and social history, this "analysis of a cross-section of high quality American poems" is organized chronologically within each of twenty-one thematic categories, such as Art and Beauty, Freedom and Slavery, and Obligations and Choices. This format provides an especially powerful curriculum-planning tool for high school English and social studies teachers. Opening each chapter with a general explanation of the theme, it inspires possible organization for new courses or units and subsequently suggests 250 specific poems that can expand existing study plans. Discussing seven to twenty poems per theme, Burns also alludes to non-American works, compares poems addressed within the same theme as well as other ideas within the volume, and relates one concept to another. He includes both frequently anthologized and newly recognized voices, from Philip Freneau to Cathy Song, and autobiographical sketches of each poet. A list of anthologies in which the poems appear is at the end at each theme discussion. Advanced students can use this source to expand their knowledge in independent research assignments or for standardized test preparation. The teacher working with less motivated or less advanced students will find this book helpful but should refer to a work such as Teaching Poetry in High School (NCTE, 1999/VOYA June 2000) to locate more emotionally and intellectually accessible poems for comparison or contrast. The author does not claim that his analyses are either definitive or complete, but his clear, concise interpretations will promote discussion and study and provide a sound foundation for comparison with other interpretations. Index. Further Reading. 2002,Greenwood, 328p. PLB
— Lucy Schall
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-Well-organized, easy-to-navigate, authoritative volumes. Each book discusses more than 20 themes including "Life and Death," "Obligations and Choices," "War," "Duty," "Marriage," and "Nature." These topics are explored in detail in lengthy essays with references to specific poems. Historical context and biographical sketches offer insight into the poets' lives as well as the time periods in which they lived. Works included range from the 1700s to the present and, depending on the scope of the book, include authors such as Henry David Thoreau, Maya Angelou, Edgar Allan Poe, William Wordsworth, Geoffrey Chaucer, and Philip Larkin. The selections are discussed in chronological order so that, according to Glancy, "-readers can trace the development and decline of interest in themes over the centuries." Works are referenced at the end of each chapter. Author, title, and subject indexes make access easy. Also included in each volume is a list of anthologies in which the referenced poems can be found. Because of the length of some chapters, the complex discussions of some subjects, and the many literary references, these titles would be most useful to advanced students and their teachers.-Julie Webb, Shelby County High School, Shelbyville, KY Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780313314629
  • Publisher: ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 9/30/2002
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 326
  • Product dimensions: 6.14 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Meet the Author

ALLAN BURNS is Assistant Professor of English at Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville. His interests include American Poetry and American nature writing. His articles and reviews have been published in American Literary Realism, American Literature, English Studies, The Henry James Review and Papers on Language and Literature.

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Table of Contents

Anthologies of American Poetry and Abbreviations Used
Art and Beauty 1
Civilization 11
Family Relations 25
Freedom and Slavery 33
The Individual and Society 43
Innocence and Experience 55
Life and Death 65
Loss 83
Love and Sex 101
Memory 113
Nature 121
Obligations and Choices 135
Poetry 143
The Self 155
Skepticism and Belief 165
Suffering and Joy 179
Thought and Perception 187
Time and Change 199
Tradition and Heritage 215
Truth and Appearances 227
War 235
Biographical Sketches 247
Further Reading 291
Title Index 293
Name Index 301
Subject Index 307
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