The Poem Is You: 60 Contemporary American Poems and How To Read Them

Belknap: Harvard Univ. Sept. 2016. 432p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780674737877. $27.95; ebk. ISBN 9780674972872. LIT
Critic Burt (English, Harvard Univ.) here analyzes 60 contemporary poems. His critique is not only accessible to most all readers, but it also shows his depth of knowledge and love of American poetry. His essays are very good at finding the meaning of the work while placing each poem in context within the landscape of poetry. The poets selected for this book are a solid representation of the direction that the genre has taken in the early 21st century, ranging from Robert Creeley and Rita Dove to Claudia Rankine and Gabby Bess. With these selections, Burt shows that he is keeping up with the trends and that there is no standard definition of modern American verse. Instead, there are sometimes competing, sometimes complementary, diverse versions and viewpoints. By placing them all together in one anthology, equal respect is given to each of the featured pieces, highlighting even lesser-known writers or those working on the outer fringes of traditional American poetry.
VERDICT This book is for anyone interested in the state of American poetry today—academic and general readers alike will find it engaging. For public libraries and libraries with special poetry collections.
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