Postmodern American Poetry: A Norton Anthology, Second Edition

Paul Hoover. Norton, $35 trade paper (976p) ISBN 978-0-393-34186-7
Hoover, a highly regarded West Coast poet and deep practitioner of the poetics that are the focus of this book, has greatly expanded this important anthology for its second edition. First coined by the poet Charles Olsen in 1951, the term “postmodern” is defined by Hoover in his introduction as “an experimental approach to composition, as well as a worldview that sets itself apart from mainstream culture and the sentimentality and self-expressiveness of its life in writing.” That definition suggests both academic and theoretical nature of much of the poetry contained herein, as well as the many unusual formal devices often employed. But the range here is stunning, from Olsen’s panoramic histories to Frank O’Hara’s chatty cityscapes to Lyn Hejinian’s bottomless autobiography. What makes this edition so welcome, for both classroom and personal use, is its inclusion of many newer poets whose careers hadn’t yet begun when the first edition was published. Now we have K. Silem Mohammad’s Internet-infused lines, Claudia Rankine’s moral collages, Christian Bok’s vowel experiments, and more, including very new writers like Ben Lerner. There’s plenty of everything—especially strong emotion—if one knows where to look. This will be an essential book for students and serious fans of poetry. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 12/24/2012
Release date: 03/01/2013
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