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American Poetry: The Twentieth Century, Volume 1: Henry Adams to Dorothy Parker

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This landmark anthology, part of a series that will eventually cover the entire century, gathers nearly 1500 poems by over 200 poets to restore American poetry's most brilliant era in all its beauty, explosive energy, and extraordinary diversity.Included are generous selections of the century's great poets -- Robert Frost, Wallace Stevens, William Carlos Williams, Marianne This landmark anthology, part of a series that will eventually cover the entire century, gathers nearly 1500 poems by over 200 poets to restore American poetry's most brilliant era in all its beauty, explosive energy, and extraordinary diversity.Included are generous selections of the century's great poets -- Robert Frost, Wallace Stevens, William Carlos Williams, Marianne Moore, Ezra Pound, Langston Hughes; and undervalued poets like Witter Bynner, Mina Loy, Louis Zukofsky, Ogden Nash, Dorothy Parker, Robert Johnson; and a wealth of talented and overlooked poets, experimentalists, formal innovators, popular and humorous versifiers, poets of social protest, and accomplished songwriters.


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This landmark anthology, part of a series that will eventually cover the entire century, gathers nearly 1500 poems by over 200 poets to restore American poetry's most brilliant era in all its beauty, explosive energy, and extraordinary diversity.Included are generous selections of the century's great poets -- Robert Frost, Wallace Stevens, William Carlos Williams, Marianne This landmark anthology, part of a series that will eventually cover the entire century, gathers nearly 1500 poems by over 200 poets to restore American poetry's most brilliant era in all its beauty, explosive energy, and extraordinary diversity.Included are generous selections of the century's great poets -- Robert Frost, Wallace Stevens, William Carlos Williams, Marianne Moore, Ezra Pound, Langston Hughes; and undervalued poets like Witter Bynner, Mina Loy, Louis Zukofsky, Ogden Nash, Dorothy Parker, Robert Johnson; and a wealth of talented and overlooked poets, experimentalists, formal innovators, popular and humorous versifiers, poets of social protest, and accomplished songwriters.

30 review for American Poetry: The Twentieth Century, Volume 1: Henry Adams to Dorothy Parker

  1. 4 out of 5

    robin friedman

    Twentieth Century American Poetry In The Library of America -- 1 Although still not widely read or appreciated, American poetry underwent a renaissance in the Twentieth Century. At some point, readers will look back at our Twentieth Century poetry as a benchmark of literature and a guide to the thoughts, feelings, and events of our difficult century. In this, the first of two volumes of Twentieth Century American poetry, the Library of America gives access to a treasure of reading that is moving, Twentieth Century American Poetry In The Library of America -- 1 Although still not widely read or appreciated, American poetry underwent a renaissance in the Twentieth Century. At some point, readers will look back at our Twentieth Century poetry as a benchmark of literature and a guide to the thoughts, feelings, and events of our difficult century. In this, the first of two volumes of Twentieth Century American poetry, the Library of America gives access to a treasure of reading that is moving, elevating, and disturbing. The book consists of readings from 85 poets, arranged chronologically by the poet's birthday. The earliest writer in the volume is Henry Adams (b. 1838) and the concluding writer is Dorothy Parker (b. 1893). Some writers that flourished later in life, such as Wallace Stevens, thus appear in the volume before works of their peers, such as Pound and Elliot, who became famous earlier. For me, the major poets in the volume are Robert Frost, Wallace Stevens, W.C. Williams, Ezra Pound, T.S. Elliot, Marianne Moore. They are represented by generous selections, including Elliot's "The Waste Land", Stevens' "Notes Towards a Supreme Fiction", and several Pound Canto's given in their entirety. It is the mark of a great literary period that there are many writers almost equally meriting attention together with the great names. Many outstanding writers find their place in this volume, some known, some unknown. To name only a few, I would include E.A. Robinson, James Weldon Johnson, Adelaide Crapsey, Vachel Lindsay, Sara Teasdale, H.D. Robinson Jeffers, John Crowe Ransom, Conrad Aiken, and Samuel Greenberg. It would be easy to go on. There are different ways to read an anthology such as this LOA volume. One way is to browse reading poems as they catch the reader's eye. Another way is to read favorite poems the reader already knows. I suggest making the effort to read the volume through from cover to cover. Before beginning reading each individual poet, the reader might consult the biographical summary at the end of the volume. These brief biographies illuminate both the poets and their poetry. The notes are sparse, but foreign terms in Pound and Elliot's poetry are translated. In the case of Elliot and Marianne Moore, the volume offers selections from their own notes. By reading the volume through, one gets a sense of continuity and context. Then, the reader can devote attention to individual poems. Some twentieth century works, such as those by Pound, Elliott, Moore, or Stevens are notoriously difficult. Read the works through if you are coming to them for the first time, and return to them later. I was familiar with many of the poems in the book before reading the anthology but much was new to me. I learned a great deal. My favorite poet remains Wallace Stevens, partly because he combined the life of a man of affairs, as an attorney and insurance executive, with deep art. This remains an ideal for me. It is true as well for W.C. Williams, although I am less fond of his poetry. In a poem in this volume, "Libretto" (p. 371) Ezra Pound wrote: "What thou lovest well is thy true heritage". Pound's observation is the best single sentence summation I can think of for the contents of this volume. The Library of America deserves gratitude for its efforts in presenting the best of American writing and thought. Robin Friedman

  2. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    Anthologies like these often get criticized for being either too Dead White Male oriented or too multiculturaly inclusive (See the criticism for the recent Rita Dove edited Penguin Anthology of 20th Century Poetry.) Library of America avoids that simply by being gigantic. Arranged by order of birthdate volume 1 and it's 900 pages only gets to the birth year of 1893. So everyone is here and well-represented. And it's not diverse just in a cultural sense, everything from Ezra Pound and his circle Anthologies like these often get criticized for being either too Dead White Male oriented or too multiculturaly inclusive (See the criticism for the recent Rita Dove edited Penguin Anthology of 20th Century Poetry.) Library of America avoids that simply by being gigantic. Arranged by order of birthdate volume 1 and it's 900 pages only gets to the birth year of 1893. So everyone is here and well-represented. And it's not diverse just in a cultural sense, everything from Ezra Pound and his circle of inscrutables to the light verse of Dorothy Parker and song lyrics of Cole Porter and Irving Berlin are included. The big names however do receive the most representation. Robert Frost gets nearly 60 pages, Wallace Stevens 70 and Pound 80 pages. You also get just about all the Gertrude Stein a sane person can tolerate. Seriously, Gertrude Stein is the poetic equivalent of Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music. Revelations for me included a total rediscovery of Robert Frost, and a certain disappointment in things that I once really liked like TS Elliot. The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock, aside from its amazing language, is sort of juvenile. It's the world view of a young adult with little life experience. In another music analogy, it's almost like going back to the Simon & Garfunkel songs you loved as a teenager and realizing how naive they are. And this collection caused me to go back and read Spoon River Anthology in its entirety. I don't know of a better, more inclusive anthology of American poetry. Worth reading cover to cover just for its amazing breadth.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Greg

    I didn’t read every page of this but I read a LOT and I’ve decided it counts, dammit.

  4. 5 out of 5

    John Porcellino

    See American Poetry claw its way into Modernity before your very eyes! Surprises and new poems/poets to me here include Fenton Johnson, Maxwell Bodenheim, Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, and "Hurt Hawks" by Robinson Jeffers, which nearly brought me to tears. Also, makes me want to go back and reread Spoon River Anthology in its entirety.. See American Poetry claw its way into Modernity before your very eyes! Surprises and new poems/poets to me here include Fenton Johnson, Maxwell Bodenheim, Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, and "Hurt Hawks" by Robinson Jeffers, which nearly brought me to tears. Also, makes me want to go back and reread Spoon River Anthology in its entirety..

  5. 5 out of 5

    Glenda Nelms

    Inclusive and comprehensive poetry collection. The biographical notes of each poet is interesting and fascinating.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Mustafiz Rahman

    Need to collect

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jasmine

    Poetry is not my best subject, but my professor makes it really fun

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jon Corelis

    An attempt at a definitive collection Clearly intended to be the definitive collection of American poetry for our time, the two thousand pages of American Poetry: The Twentieth Century are as official as an American book can be without actually being published by the government. Their publisher is a non-profit organization founded with funding from the U.S. Federal government's National Endowment for the Humanities and the private Ford Foundation with the mission of embodying America's literary h An attempt at a definitive collection Clearly intended to be the definitive collection of American poetry for our time, the two thousand pages of American Poetry: The Twentieth Century are as official as an American book can be without actually being published by the government. Their publisher is a non-profit organization founded with funding from the U.S. Federal government's National Endowment for the Humanities and the private Ford Foundation with the mission of embodying America's literary heritage in a series of uniform editions. Most unusually, the book lists no editor, though the names of those given as the anthology's 'advisory board' evidence the highest possible endorsement of the American poetry/academic establishment. Despite its enormous size, vols. 1 and 2 actually only include poets born up to 1913, meaning the selections cover poetry of about the first half of the century: a further volume was supposedly forthcoming to cover the rest of the century, but to the best of my knowledge has never appeared. The lack of an explicit editor is matched by the absence of a preface, leaving the 1400 poems refreshingly to speak for themselves about why they are there. The brief explanatory notes secluded at the back of the book are useful though somewhat arbitrary. One of the book's most interesting features are the concise and detailed biographical notes on its more than 200 poets. The anthologists' aim has apparently been to preserve the importance of the accepted major figures of modern American verse while also giving greater prominence to poetries which previous cultural biases have de-emphasized or excluded. Thus the coverage of Frost, Williams, Pound, Eliot, Stevens, Crane, and other great names is as extensive as any traditionalist could wish, and indeed often includes interesting lesser-known works by such poets in addition to the ones which are in every other collection. But along with this, much more space than has been usual is devoted to women poets, allowing for instance the inclusion of passages of Gertrude Stein which are long enough to really demonstrate what she is doing; of generous selections from H.D.'s more ambitious later works; and of enough of the startling experiments of Mina Loy to enable you to decide whether you like them or not. The African American contribution to the country's poetry has also been highlighted not only by sections on Langston Hughes and Countee Cullen large enough to make clear how impressive their accomplishment was, but by briefer selections from a number of other poets who deserve to be remembered. And the inclusion of verse by John Reed, W.E.B. du Bois, and other radicals, if not wholly justified by its poetic quality, has a place in such a work to remind us that there was a time in America when leftist political activism was something more than a rare, eccentric hobby, and when, even more astonishingly, poetry was seen as a necessary and effective weapon of class struggle. The work's major flaw as a purported historical anthology is that it is hindered at its deepest level by the seemingly sensible decision to treat the twentieth century as an organic poetic unit, because this requires the disastrous omission of Whitman and Dickinson, who are the first and most important twentieth century American poets no matter what the calendars say. An anthology of modern American poetry without them seems continually to echo with their absence, and makes one realize anew that this poetry can only be ordered into a meaningful whole by reference to their presence. Though I hope those reading this review will find my comments at least provocative even if not convincing, I know most people will be interested in the question, Should I buy it? I would say if you actually want an anthology of twentieth century American poetry, you should either wait until the third and any subsequent volume come out (if they ever do) or get another standard anthology. And if you are a relative beginner at poetry, you may find these volumes' comprehensiveness daunting and might be better off getting one of the more selective standard anthologies. The serious student of the subject may find the book useful for its reflection of current academic poetry standards, its collection of biographical notes, and as a source of many interesting lesser known poems.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Michael Steger

    This is an excellent collection. The editors' decision to include some works by a few seminal songwriters (e.g. W. C. Handy, Ma Rainey) is a good one. The proportional representation of each poet feels about right, with the largest sections being devoted to Frost, Stevens, Pound, Williams, and Eliot. The biographical sketches are excellent, as are the notes, by and large (the notes on Pound's poems occasionally seem arbitrary; apparently, the editors have decided to translate the foreign-languag This is an excellent collection. The editors' decision to include some works by a few seminal songwriters (e.g. W. C. Handy, Ma Rainey) is a good one. The proportional representation of each poet feels about right, with the largest sections being devoted to Frost, Stevens, Pound, Williams, and Eliot. The biographical sketches are excellent, as are the notes, by and large (the notes on Pound's poems occasionally seem arbitrary; apparently, the editors have decided to translate the foreign-language phrases used by Pound, but have decided not to try to explain many of the now foreign-seeming references--to be sure, a thorough annotation of the Pound poems included in this anthology would quickly overrun the space available). One of the pleasures a of a good historical anthology such as this one is the way it allows one to see the work of one poet vis-a-vis the work of another. For example, I found it rewarding to read the best of Edward Arlington Robinson's work in proximity to some of the best poems of Frost. Similarly, it is quite interesting to go from some of the cantos of Pound right into the work of Marianne Moore--this reminds one how playful (often mischievously, even angrily playful) Pound's poetry can feel and how serious Moore's poems can seem, just beneath the comedic surface. (One also is reminded of how much of Pound's poetry seems suffused with a paranoid fear of usury and money in general--and there can be little doubt that, in Pound's paranoid, half-baked political worldview, his raging against money-lending and "the Syphilis of the State" is all bound up quite tightly with his virulent anti-Semitism.) There are many poets in this volume to discover and re-discover. I had forgot just how startling Mina Loy's poems can be. I had never paid any attention to Robinson's poems, thinking he was old-fashioned and backward-looking; what a pleasure it was to read his poems in this collection. I had not read Jeffers in a very long time, and it was good to read poems like "Vulture" and "Hurt Hawks" again. (I read a lot of Jeffers in my last two years of high school, and then later 'rejected' his work as being a bit too macho--and I also was turned off a bit when I read of critics finding in Jeffers a kind of "proto-fascism"--which is somewhat absurd on a number of levels, particularly considering that few intelligent readers would reject the work of Yeats because of his dubious political views, and Pound is widely regarded as one of the greatest and most influential poets of his century. After all, even Wallace Stevens--aesthetic radical that he may have been--was a Republican who apparently liked to provoke inebriated fights… Not exactly the amiable, 'sensitive' man one might expect or hope for.) It was great to read H. D. again, and Amy Lowell. And it was good to discover a poem like Einor Wylie's "Incantation." This is a great collection to keep near to hand. Yet another reason to be grateful for the existence of the Library of America.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jim Leckband

    What more could you want out of a poetry anthology? Wallace Stevens, Edna St. Vincent Millay, William Carlos Williams, Dorothy Parker and a lot of poets you never heard of but who serve up some gems. If nothing else these unknown poets show what the baseline is that the stars blast through. While reading it, T.S. Eliot fell in my favor, Robinson Jeffers grew, and Dorothy Parker just makes you smile, even though you could tell she was going through hell. It was the first time I read a lot of Rober What more could you want out of a poetry anthology? Wallace Stevens, Edna St. Vincent Millay, William Carlos Williams, Dorothy Parker and a lot of poets you never heard of but who serve up some gems. If nothing else these unknown poets show what the baseline is that the stars blast through. While reading it, T.S. Eliot fell in my favor, Robinson Jeffers grew, and Dorothy Parker just makes you smile, even though you could tell she was going through hell. It was the first time I read a lot of Robert Frost and that was a good thing, though I wanted to shake him by the shoulders by the end of his section and send him on a train to Key West and have an ice cream with the Emperor, Wally Stevens.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Keith

    The Library of America poetry series is very good and this book is no exception. It provides a good sampling of many 20th century American poets. I can't say I read every page of this book (since I'm already familiar with many of these poets), but it did open my eyes to some writers, which should be the point of an anthology. My only quibble: There is paucity of notes. Am I the only person who didn't know General William Booth was founder of the Salvation Army? (I thought he might be a Civil War The Library of America poetry series is very good and this book is no exception. It provides a good sampling of many 20th century American poets. I can't say I read every page of this book (since I'm already familiar with many of these poets), but it did open my eyes to some writers, which should be the point of an anthology. My only quibble: There is paucity of notes. Am I the only person who didn't know General William Booth was founder of the Salvation Army? (I thought he might be a Civil War general.) A little help would have been appreciated. Overall, I recommend this book (and this series) for the poetry lover. For the average reader, however, there are probably shorter, more selective anthologies that will better introduce them to American poetry. (less)

  12. 5 out of 5

    David Cherry

    Originally I gave this book a 4 star rating because of the frequency that poems I liked came up. Most of the poems were delightful to read. Then I realized that this is an anthology. As an anthology it hits many different poets of various styles, backgrounds, color, and fame. There's even song lyrics in this collection. I could not in good conscious judge this collection simply by how much I liked the poems. As an anthology this is a 5 star book. Originally I gave this book a 4 star rating because of the frequency that poems I liked came up. Most of the poems were delightful to read. Then I realized that this is an anthology. As an anthology it hits many different poets of various styles, backgrounds, color, and fame. There's even song lyrics in this collection. I could not in good conscious judge this collection simply by how much I liked the poems. As an anthology this is a 5 star book.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Rolland

    This collection ranges from Henry Adams to Dorothy Parker, like the title says, but it also includes poets I wouldn't expect, and poets I hadn't read. I'm very impressed with the quality of this collection. Savoring the poetry here took patience; I was tempted to race through it too quickly. This collection ranges from Henry Adams to Dorothy Parker, like the title says, but it also includes poets I wouldn't expect, and poets I hadn't read. I'm very impressed with the quality of this collection. Savoring the poetry here took patience; I was tempted to race through it too quickly.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Tiffany

    Good poets, good poems.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Erik Hemming

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kat

  17. 4 out of 5

    Mike Elliott

  18. 5 out of 5

    Mark Dickson

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jeffro

  20. 5 out of 5

    Max McDevitt

  21. 4 out of 5

    Steven Sodders

  22. 4 out of 5

    Peter

  23. 5 out of 5

    Katie

  24. 5 out of 5

    Zoe Etkin

  25. 5 out of 5

    Leo Lambreton

  26. 4 out of 5

    Zeinab

  27. 5 out of 5

    Bill

    I need to read more of this book.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Collin J Markum

  29. 5 out of 5

    Marina

  30. 4 out of 5

    Josh

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