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Here is the eagerly awaited new edition of The Oxford Book of American Poetry brought completely up to date and dramatically expanded by poet David Lehman. It is a rich, capacious volume, featuring the work of more than 200 poets-almost three times as many as the 1976 edition. With a succinct and often witty head note introducing each author, it is certain to become the de Here is the eagerly awaited new edition of The Oxford Book of American Poetry brought completely up to date and dramatically expanded by poet David Lehman. It is a rich, capacious volume, featuring the work of more than 200 poets-almost three times as many as the 1976 edition. With a succinct and often witty head note introducing each author, it is certain to become the definitive anthology of American poetry for our time. Lehman has gathered together all the works one would expect to find in a landmark collection of American poetry, from Whitman's Crossing Brooklyn Ferry to Stevens's The Idea of Order at Key West, and from Eliot's The Waste Land to Ashbery's Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror. But equally important, the editor has significantly expanded the range of the anthology. The book includes not only writers born since the previous edition, but also many fine poets overlooked in earlier editions or little known in the past but highly deserving of attention. The anthology confers legitimacy on the Objectivist poets; the so-called Proletariat poets of the 1930s; famous poets who fell into neglect or were the victims of critical backlash (Edna St. Vincent Millay); poets whose true worth has only become clear with the passing of time (Weldon Kees). Among poets missing from Richard Ellmann's 1976 volume but published here are W. H. Auden, Charles Bukowski, Donald Justice, Carolyn Kizer, Kenneth Koch, Stanley Kunitz, Emma Lazarus, Mina Loy, Howard Moss, Lorine Niedecker, George Oppen, James Schuyler, Elinor Wylie, and Louis Zukosky. Many more women are represented: outstanding poets such as Josephine Jacobsen, Josephine Miles, May Swenson. Numerous African-American poets receive their due, and unexpected figures such as the musicians Bob Dylan, Patti Smith and Robert Johnson have a place in this important work. This stunning collection redefines the great canon of American poetry from its origins in the 17th century right up to the present. It is a must-have anthology for anyone interested in American literature and a book that is sure to be consulted, debated, and treasured for years to come.


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Here is the eagerly awaited new edition of The Oxford Book of American Poetry brought completely up to date and dramatically expanded by poet David Lehman. It is a rich, capacious volume, featuring the work of more than 200 poets-almost three times as many as the 1976 edition. With a succinct and often witty head note introducing each author, it is certain to become the de Here is the eagerly awaited new edition of The Oxford Book of American Poetry brought completely up to date and dramatically expanded by poet David Lehman. It is a rich, capacious volume, featuring the work of more than 200 poets-almost three times as many as the 1976 edition. With a succinct and often witty head note introducing each author, it is certain to become the definitive anthology of American poetry for our time. Lehman has gathered together all the works one would expect to find in a landmark collection of American poetry, from Whitman's Crossing Brooklyn Ferry to Stevens's The Idea of Order at Key West, and from Eliot's The Waste Land to Ashbery's Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror. But equally important, the editor has significantly expanded the range of the anthology. The book includes not only writers born since the previous edition, but also many fine poets overlooked in earlier editions or little known in the past but highly deserving of attention. The anthology confers legitimacy on the Objectivist poets; the so-called Proletariat poets of the 1930s; famous poets who fell into neglect or were the victims of critical backlash (Edna St. Vincent Millay); poets whose true worth has only become clear with the passing of time (Weldon Kees). Among poets missing from Richard Ellmann's 1976 volume but published here are W. H. Auden, Charles Bukowski, Donald Justice, Carolyn Kizer, Kenneth Koch, Stanley Kunitz, Emma Lazarus, Mina Loy, Howard Moss, Lorine Niedecker, George Oppen, James Schuyler, Elinor Wylie, and Louis Zukosky. Many more women are represented: outstanding poets such as Josephine Jacobsen, Josephine Miles, May Swenson. Numerous African-American poets receive their due, and unexpected figures such as the musicians Bob Dylan, Patti Smith and Robert Johnson have a place in this important work. This stunning collection redefines the great canon of American poetry from its origins in the 17th century right up to the present. It is a must-have anthology for anyone interested in American literature and a book that is sure to be consulted, debated, and treasured for years to come.

30 review for The Oxford Book of American Poetry

  1. 5 out of 5

    Robert Palmer

    The principal problem with this tome is that its emphasis is on modern poetry, even though it purports to be a comprehensive volume of American poetry. Of its 1085 pages of poetry, almost all of it is devoted to what passed for poetry in the twentieth century. This was accomplished not only by reducing the number of poets from earlier centuries, but also the number of pages devoted to each. Just five poets represent the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. America's Golden Age of poetry, the nin The principal problem with this tome is that its emphasis is on modern poetry, even though it purports to be a comprehensive volume of American poetry. Of its 1085 pages of poetry, almost all of it is devoted to what passed for poetry in the twentieth century. This was accomplished not only by reducing the number of poets from earlier centuries, but also the number of pages devoted to each. Just five poets represent the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. America's Golden Age of poetry, the nineteenth century, is relegated to fewer than 200 pages. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, a prolific poet who was once considered to be America's greatest poet, has barely ten pages. In contrast, twentieth century "poets," such as Wallace Stevens and William Carlos Williams, each get more than twice as much space. But then, what can one expect of an editor whose bias is not hidden? David Lehman states in his introduction, "... the need to replace the retrospective anthologies of the past is as constant as the need to render classic works in new translations with up-to-date idioms." Did you get that? He advocates editing classic works! What hubris! Save your money -- don't buy this book, and don't waste your time reading beyond the first 200 pages. If, like me, you prefer poetry that speaks to the soul, poetry that is accessible to the masses rather than to just a handful of self-appointed "experts" in poetry, then look for an anthology assembled for ordinary people. One such volume is The Best Love Poems of the American People.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Melody

    This new edition is considerably larger than the previous ones, and I've been working on it for a month or so. I discovered some new poets, some old friends, and faithfully slogged through some poems I remembered hating. I was right about them, but one never knows. Poetry, I've found, is very fluid, and poems resonate differently for me through the years. There's no way I feel adequate to review a book on this scale, a book of this scope, except to say that if you like poetry it's certainly wort This new edition is considerably larger than the previous ones, and I've been working on it for a month or so. I discovered some new poets, some old friends, and faithfully slogged through some poems I remembered hating. I was right about them, but one never knows. Poetry, I've found, is very fluid, and poems resonate differently for me through the years. There's no way I feel adequate to review a book on this scale, a book of this scope, except to say that if you like poetry it's certainly worth perusing. If you hate poetry, read the quote by William Matthews below, and be free. The poems new to me with which I fell in love: Amaze by Adelaide Crapsey The House Was Quiet And The World Was Calm by Wallace Stevens Before Disaster by Yvor Winters Those Winter Sundays by Robert Hayden The Lost Children by Randall Jarrell Why Regret by Galway Kinnell The Return by Philip Levine At 65 by Richard Howard Forty Something by Robert Hass Celestial Music and Vespers by Louise Gluck Otherwise by Jane Kenyon Form by Heather McHugh And last, this gem from the blurb about William Matthews "He once observed that most published poems fall into one of four thematic categories: '1. I went out in the woods today and it made me feel, you know, sort of religious. 2. We're not getting any younger. 3. It sure is cold and lonely (a) without you, honey, or (b) with you, honey. 4) Sadness seems but the other side of the coin of happiness, and vice versa, and in any case the coin is too soon spent and on we know not what.'"

  3. 5 out of 5

    Mike The Pirate

    A great book, a wonderful anthology, but unfortunately there is one problem with it as a work. It is the "Oxford" the British book of American Poetry, meaning that these are the selections of another country anthologizing American poetry. There are many noticeable absences. The poetry selections are mainly from East Coast authors and it does not feature as wide a range of multicultural authors as have become well known in America. Still a good reference to have on one's shelves. A great book, a wonderful anthology, but unfortunately there is one problem with it as a work. It is the "Oxford" the British book of American Poetry, meaning that these are the selections of another country anthologizing American poetry. There are many noticeable absences. The poetry selections are mainly from East Coast authors and it does not feature as wide a range of multicultural authors as have become well known in America. Still a good reference to have on one's shelves.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    This book shortchanges the American poetry scene. It's not as comprehensive in terms of early American poets as it could be. It's also sorely lacking foot- or endnotes. The brief bios compiled of each poet are random and questionable. One female poet was described by her looks. John Berryman's bio notes that "he jumped to his death off the Washington Avenue bridge between St. Paul and Minneapolis." Um...the Washington Avenue bridge connects the East and West Banks of the University of Minnesota- This book shortchanges the American poetry scene. It's not as comprehensive in terms of early American poets as it could be. It's also sorely lacking foot- or endnotes. The brief bios compiled of each poet are random and questionable. One female poet was described by her looks. John Berryman's bio notes that "he jumped to his death off the Washington Avenue bridge between St. Paul and Minneapolis." Um...the Washington Avenue bridge connects the East and West Banks of the University of Minnesota--Minneapolis campus. The entire bridge is in Minneapolis. Which makes me question how accurate the other bios were. Oh, and in Rae Armantrout's bio, the William Stafford poem Traveling Through the Dark is misnamed Traveling Through the Night. If someone can recommend a better anthology of American poetry than this, I'm all ears.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Hannah Johnson

    My personal Bible. Enough said.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Katie Karnehm-Esh

    I have used this anthology three times now, once when I sat in on a poetry class, and twice when teaching it. I am not sure I am going to use it again, even though in some ways it's a thorough collection of American poetry. What I like: The collection has a very good introduction by Lehman, succinct bios of each poet, and a broad range of a poets, as well as a few American songwriters (Bob Dylan is one). In short, I've used this anthology to teach the canon of American poetry. However, it is mor I have used this anthology three times now, once when I sat in on a poetry class, and twice when teaching it. I am not sure I am going to use it again, even though in some ways it's a thorough collection of American poetry. What I like: The collection has a very good introduction by Lehman, succinct bios of each poet, and a broad range of a poets, as well as a few American songwriters (Bob Dylan is one). In short, I've used this anthology to teach the canon of American poetry. However, it is more or less the white canon, and in the class I teach, I'm trying to not teach just the white canon. What I don't like: Lehman chose a cut-off year for adding poets, which means many of the poets of color I'm currently reading aren't included. However, his anthology certainly could have included many more poets of color which were just as good as some of the non-POC poets included (the key ones included are Wheatley, Hayden, Brooks, and a few others. Good--but in an anthology this broad, not good enough). My ideal American poetry anthology would be way, way too long, but I have a hard time deciding here if the anthology is too broad or not broad enough. This semester I solved my problems by including a two other anthologies. I will probably just opt for a different, more diverse anthology in the future.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Joe

    If I could add only one poem to this anthology, it would be "Goodnight Moon" by Margaret Wise Brown. If that ain't an American classic, what is? If I could add another, it would be "Reincarnation" by Wallace McRae. Thus I vote for more accessibility, more breadth. And some honest to God humor. There's a wide audience for the wide swath of American poetry extending beyond the academic, the must-be-studied. And what about slam or other forms of performance poetry? Maybe slam arrived a little too l If I could add only one poem to this anthology, it would be "Goodnight Moon" by Margaret Wise Brown. If that ain't an American classic, what is? If I could add another, it would be "Reincarnation" by Wallace McRae. Thus I vote for more accessibility, more breadth. And some honest to God humor. There's a wide audience for the wide swath of American poetry extending beyond the academic, the must-be-studied. And what about slam or other forms of performance poetry? Maybe slam arrived a little too late for this edition, but you can't call yourself an anthology of American poetry without it. Up until about 1940 it's a good collection. Now they should hire Tracy K. Smith to update it.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Lagobond

    I'm seriously disappointed. I really gave this anthology a fair shot, but failed to find a single poem I loved. With pretentious anthologies like this, it's no wonder so many people think they don't like poetry. To anyone who has tried this book, don't give up! There's good poetry out there, I promise. And to anyone who uses this to teach... why, oh why would you inflict such suffering on innocent minds? I suppose I should look for poetry rated 1-star by David Lehman, because his taste sure seems I'm seriously disappointed. I really gave this anthology a fair shot, but failed to find a single poem I loved. With pretentious anthologies like this, it's no wonder so many people think they don't like poetry. To anyone who has tried this book, don't give up! There's good poetry out there, I promise. And to anyone who uses this to teach... why, oh why would you inflict such suffering on innocent minds? I suppose I should look for poetry rated 1-star by David Lehman, because his taste sure seems diametrically opposed to mine.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Mike Hammer

    long collection lots of poets mostly old and 'classic' poets i would say i like about 15% of them and i think another 15% are decent but overall its a collection of nonsensical flowery stuff that makes most people hate poetry long collection lots of poets mostly old and 'classic' poets i would say i like about 15% of them and i think another 15% are decent but overall its a collection of nonsensical flowery stuff that makes most people hate poetry

  10. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Tierney

    An interesting collection, some surprising omissions, like Lawrence Ferlingetti, and really, Patti Smith is included?

  11. 5 out of 5

    Daudi Mlengela

    For anyone who want to read and teach poetry, I recommend this book. The book gives poetic details starting from poets to their poem.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Ashley (JaffaCaffa)

    I am no expert on poetry, I have only read a handful which is why I decided to read this and expand my horizons! I have always been interested in poetry, but never took the time to appreciate it. Here's my ratings of the poems I read, more for future reference than anything, so I can look back and see which poets were my favourites and why. Feel free to read the ones I rated highly, or suggest other poems you think I may like! W. H. Auden: "As I Walked Out One Evening" ★★★ Louise Glück: "Celestial I am no expert on poetry, I have only read a handful which is why I decided to read this and expand my horizons! I have always been interested in poetry, but never took the time to appreciate it. Here's my ratings of the poems I read, more for future reference than anything, so I can look back and see which poets were my favourites and why. Feel free to read the ones I rated highly, or suggest other poems you think I may like! W. H. Auden: "As I Walked Out One Evening" ★★★ Louise Glück: "Celestial Music" ★★ Robert Frost: "Provide, Provide" ★★ "The Oven Bird" ★★★ "The Road Not Taken" ★ Generic. "Fire and Ice" ★★★★ "Design" ★★ Jane Kenyon: "Otherwise" ★★★★ Heather McHugh: "What He Thought" ★★★★★ Wow this hit me hard. Sharon Olds: "The One Girl at the Boys Party" ★★★ "The Race" ★★ Ron Padgett: "Voice" ★★★★ Mary Oliver: "Some Questions You Might Ask" ★★ Katha Pollitt: "Failure" ★★★ "Mind-Body Problem" ★★★ Weldon Kees: "For My Daughter" ★★★★ Oh how I have struggled with these thoughts as I self-reflect. Worrying that my wants wouldn't be the best for my daughter, physically and mentally, as well as myself. William Stafford: "Traveling Through the Dark" ★ "Ask Me" ★★★ Wallace Stevens: "Disillusionment of Ten O'Clock" ★★★ "The Death of a Solider" ★★★This leads to the question, should we get recognition for the things we have done when we die? I'm not sure what the correct answer is supposed to be myself. Michael Palmer: "A man undergoes pain sitting at a piano" ★★★★ E. E. Cummings: "anyone lived in a pretty how town" ★★

  13. 4 out of 5

    Adrienne

    When an anthology is over 1,000 pages and almost 800 of those are only the 20th century, I wonder what happened to the rest of America's literary tradition. Most of the selections here are great and deserve to be included, but a lot has been left out (like most of the 1800s) and some included poets' works could be reduced. For example, it is a bit stunning, as Dana Gioia has pointed out, that Longfellow is/was the most popular American poet of all time, and he only gets a few pages in anthologie When an anthology is over 1,000 pages and almost 800 of those are only the 20th century, I wonder what happened to the rest of America's literary tradition. Most of the selections here are great and deserve to be included, but a lot has been left out (like most of the 1800s) and some included poets' works could be reduced. For example, it is a bit stunning, as Dana Gioia has pointed out, that Longfellow is/was the most popular American poet of all time, and he only gets a few pages in anthologies. But poets like to separate their "serious" poetry from popular poetry. Just because a movement of poetry is formulaic and predictable doesn't mean it should be ignored.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Victoria

    Confession 1 - I didn't read this 1085-page book cover to cover. Confession 2 - I just don't get poetry. I read Whitman and Dickinson (for my book club). They did nothing for me. I feel anti-american saying so. I jumped around and tried other poems as well. The poems Peter suggested (by Russell Edson) are the only ones I liked. But, I admit, I didn't read everything. I guess later in the year I'll try poetry again. If you have any advice, send my way. Confession 1 - I didn't read this 1085-page book cover to cover. Confession 2 - I just don't get poetry. I read Whitman and Dickinson (for my book club). They did nothing for me. I feel anti-american saying so. I jumped around and tried other poems as well. The poems Peter suggested (by Russell Edson) are the only ones I liked. But, I admit, I didn't read everything. I guess later in the year I'll try poetry again. If you have any advice, send my way.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Joe Starnes

    This collection is large but still missing many significant southern poets, in particular, James Dickey (an omission that is downright inexcusable), as well as Sidney Lanier, Byron Herbert Reece, Miller Williams, David Bottoms, Dave Smith, Wyatt Prunty, and Greg Williamson.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Steven

    I am having a good time just exploring (2009)

  17. 5 out of 5

    Joshua

  18. 5 out of 5

    Randy Cadenhead

  19. 5 out of 5

    Patti

  20. 4 out of 5

    Todd

  21. 5 out of 5

    Becca Royer

  22. 5 out of 5

    Emsiclaire

  23. 5 out of 5

    Hope Esseltine

  24. 4 out of 5

    Cedric

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jim Ruggirello

  26. 5 out of 5

    Perry

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey (Akiva) Savett

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kaytlyn

  29. 4 out of 5

    Mary

  30. 5 out of 5

    Tom French

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