Twentieth-Century American Poetics: Poets on the Art of Poetry / Edition 1

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This comprehensive chronological anthology includes 58 essays on poetry by 53 poets. Starting with James Weldon Johnson and Robert Frost, the book offers diverse and often conflicting accounts of the nature and function of poetry. The collection includes rarely anthologized essays by Jack Spicer, Rhina Espaillat, Anne Stevenson, and Ron Silliman, as well as work by some of the finest younger critics in America, including William Logan, Alice Fulton, and Christian Wiman.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780072414721
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Higher Education
  • Publication date: 12/24/2003
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 544
  • Sales rank: 948,177
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Born in Los Angeles in 1950, Dana Gioia attended Stanford University and did graduate work at Harvard, where he studied with Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Fitzgerald. He left Harvard to attend Stanford Business School. For fifteen years he worked in New York for general Foods (eventually becoming a Vice President) while writing nights and weekends, In 1992 he became a full-time writer. Currently he lives in California.

Gioia has published three books of poems, Daily Horoscope (1986), The Gods of Winter (1991), and Interrogations at Noon (2001), which won the American Book Award. He is also the author of Can Poetry Matter? (1992; reprinted 2002). He has edited a dozen anthologies of poetry and fiction. A prolific critic and reviewer, he is also a frequent commentator on American culture for BBC Radio. He recently completed Nosferatu (2001), an opera libretto for composer Alva Henderson.

David Mason was born and raised in Bellingham, Washington, and received degrees from The Colorado College and the University of Rochester. He spent most of his twenties traveling and working as a manual laborer, with a brief stint working for a film company. He has taught at Minnesota State University, Moorhead, and is now on the faculty of The Colorado College. He lives in the mountains outside Colorado Springs.

Mason’s two prize-winning books of poems are The Buried Houses (1991) and The Country I Remember (1996). With Mark Jarman he co-edited Rebel Angels: 25 Poets of the New Formalism (1996; reprinted 1998) and with the late John Frederick Nims Western Wind: An Introduction to Poetry (2000). His collection of literary essays, The Poetry of Life and the Life of Poetry, appeared in 2000. Mason is also a memoirist, fiction writer and frequent book reviewer.

Meg Schoerke was raised in the Philadelphia and Chicago areas. She did undergraduate work at Northwestern University and earned M.A. M. F. A. and Ph. D. degrees from Washington University in St. Louis. Her poems and reviews have appeared in journals such as The American Scholar, TriQuarterly, and The Hudson Review. She has also published a poetry chapbook, Beyond Mourning, and contributed essays to a variety of books on twentieth century American poetry. She lives in San Francisco, where she works as an Associate Professor of English at San Francisco State University.

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Table of Contents



James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938)

from Preface to The Book of American Negro Poetry

Robert Frost (1874-1963)

The Sound of Sense

The Figure a Poem Makes

Amy Lowell (1874-1925)

Preface to Some Imagist Poets 1916

Gertrude Stein (1874-1946)

Composition as Explanation

Wallace Stevens (1879-1955)

The Noble Rider and the Sound of Words

William Carlos Williams (1883-1963)

A New Measure

The Poem as a Field of Action

Ezra Pound (1885-1972)

A Retrospect

How to Read

Robinson Jeffers (1887-1962)

Poetry, Gongorism, and a Thousand Years

Marianne Moore (1887-1972)

Idiosyncrasy and Technique

T.S. Eliot (1888-1965)

Reflections on Vers Libre

Tradition and the Individual Talent

Louise Bogan (1897-1970)

The Springs of Poetry

Hart Crane (1899-1932)

General Aims and Theories

Allen Tate (1899-1979)

Tension in Poetry

Yvor Winters (1900-1968)

Foreword to The Testament of a Stone

Langston Hughes (1902-1967)

The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain

Louis Zukofsky (1904-1978)

An Objective

Kenneth Rexroth (1905-1982)

Disengagement: The Art of the Beat Generation

Charles Olson (1910-1970)

Projective Verse

J.V. Cunningham (1911-1985)

The Problem of Form

Robert Hayden (1913-1980)

Introduction to Kaleidoscope: Poems by American Negro Poets

Muriel Rukeyser (1913-1980)

from The Life of Poetry

Randall Jarrell (1914-1965)

The Obscurity of the Poet

William Stafford (1914-1993)

Some Arguments Against Good Diction

Gwendolyn Brooks (1917-2000)

The New Black

Robert Duncan (1919-1988)

The Homosexual in Society

Denise Levertov (1923-1997)

Some Notes on Organic Form

Louis Simpson (b. 1923)

Reflections on Narrative Poetry

Donald Justice (b. 1925)

Meters and Memory

Jack Spicer (1925-1965)

On Spoken Poetry

Robert Bly (b. 1926)

A Wrong Turning in American Poetry

Robert Creeley (b. 1926)

To Define

Poems Are a Complex

Frank O'Hara (1926-1966)

Personism: A Manifesto

John Ashbery (b. 1927)

The Invisible Avant-Garde

W.S. Merwin (b. 1927)

On Open Form

Donald Hall (b. 1928)

Poetry and Ambition

Adrienne Rich (b. 1929)

"When We Dead Awaken": Writing as Re-Vision

Rhina Espaillat (b. 1932)


Anne Stevenson (b. 1933)

Writing as a Woman

Charles Simic (b. 1938)

Negative Capability and Its Children

Jack Foley (b. 1940)

"What about All This…": Speculations on Poetry and My Relation to It

Robert Pinsky (b. 1940)

Responsibilities of the Poet

Lyn Hejinian (b. 1941)

The Rejection of Closure

Louise Glück (b. 1944)

Disruption, Hesitation, Silence

Mary Kinzie (b. 1944)

The Rhapsodic Fallacy

Shirley Geok-lin Lim (b. 1944)

The Scarlet Brewer and the Voice of the Colonized

Ron Silliman (b. 1946)

The Political Economy of Poetry

Timothy Steele (b. 1948)

Tradition and Revolution: The Modern Movement and Free Verse

Julia Alvarez (b. 1950)

So Much Depends

Dana Gioia (b. 1950)

Can Poetry Matter?

William Logan (b. 1950)

Four of Five Motions Toward a Poetics

Rita Dove (b. 1952) and Marilyn Nelson (b. 1946)

"A Black Rainbow: Modern Afro-American Poetry"

Alice Fulton (b. 1952)

Of Formal, Free, and Fractal Verse: Singing the Body Eclectic

Christian Wiman (b. 1966)

A Piece of Prose
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