The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Poetry: Sixty-Five Outstanding Poets

J. D. McClatchy, Editor Vintage Books USA $16 (592p) ISBN 978-0-679-72858-0
Poetry devotees will be familiar with much of the work in this fine collection, which focuses on the period from WW II until the present. Sixty-five poets, including such well-known writers as Robert Lowell, Allen Ginsberg, Theodore Roethke, Anne Sexton, James Dickey, Denise Levertov and Gary Snyder, are represented by anywhere from one to a dozen poems each, as well as a brief biography that touches on the writer's aesthetic ideas. McClatchy, himself a poet and critic, has done an exceptional job of selecting works that typify the poets' styles and beliefs. Standouts are Elizabeth Bishop's ``In the Waiting Room,'' about the poet's first perception of herself in relation to others; Randall Jarrell's ``The Woman at the Washington Zoo,'' which deals with the dull, emotionless routine of modern life; Frank O'Hara's ``Having a Coke with You,'' a dizzy declaration of love during a visit to a New York museum; and Mark Strand's ``Keeping Things Whole,'' in which the poet sees his presence in the world as subtracting from the whole of reality. Unfortunately, the poems are not dated, giving the reader no sense of the writers' chronological development. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/01/1990
Release date: 10/01/1990
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