Contemporary poetry in america essays and interviews
American poetry now belongs to a subculture. No longer part of the mainstream of artistic and intellectual life, it has become the specialized occupation of a relatively small and isolated group. Little of the frenetic activity it generates ever reaches outside that closed group. As a class poets are not without cultural status.
The woman many regard as America's greatest living poet lives in a sprawling Upper West Side apartment where, for the past 40 years, she has written in a rocking chair overlooking the Hudson. When she gives a reading, people queue around the block to hear her - the night before we meet, so many fans turned up that they had to crouch on the floor and on window-sills. Her work has been anthologised in more than collections and she has won poetry's most prestigious awards - the San Francisco Poetry Center award, the Lamont Poetry prize, the National Book Critics Circle award, the TS Eliot prize - but she is strangely little known here.
This page is available to subscribers. Click here to sign in or get access. Anthologies bearing the distinct taste of the anthologists are preferable, in my view, to compilations whose editors pretend to be pluralistic in their picks. There is no such thing as a democratic selection process, after all, when it comes to poetry anthologies. Despite its limited scope and explicit preference for work championed by the editor himself, this is the best anthology of American poetry out there.