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.
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.