The Poets Laureate Anthology share button
Elizabeth Hun Schmidt
Format Hardcover
Dimensions 6.50 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.70 (d)
Pages 816
Publisher Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication Date October 2010
ISBN 9780393061819
Book ISBN 10 0393061817
About Book

The first anthology to gather poems by the forty-three poets laureate of the United States.

As a record of poetry, The Poets Laureate Anthology is groundbreaking, charting the course of American poetry over the last seventy-five years, while being, at the same time, a pleasure to read, full of some of the world’s best-known poems and many new surprises. Elizabeth Hun Schmidt has gathered and introduced poems by each of the forty-three poets who have been named our nation’s poets laureate since the post (originally called Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress) was established in 1937. Poets range from Robert Pinsky, William Carlos Williams, and Elizabeth Bishop to Charles Simic, Billy Collins, and Rita Dove. Schmidt’s spirited introductions place the poets and their poems in historical and literary context and shine light on the interesting and often uneasy relationship between politics and art. This is an inviting, monumental collection for everyone’s library, containing much of the best poetry written in America over the last century.


Publishers Weekly

The United States has a long tradition of choosing a national poet, though the term poet laureate only came to be used here after 1985. Before that, since its inception in 1935, the post was called consultant in poetry to the Library of Congress. So far we've had 43 of them, including some of America's most famous and best-loved poets, such as Robert Frost, Elizabeth Bishop, and, of course, Billy Collins, perhaps the most popular poet to hold the title (2001–2003), and also the author of the foreword to this enjoyable anthology, which offers a sampling of work from all 43 laureates, plus short introductions about each one. Former New York Times Book Review poetry editor Schmidt calls the laureates "the gatekeepers of the American idiom," and above all, that's what a reader will find here: a good sampling of what the mainstream of American poetry has to offer--the careful descriptions of Bishop, the powerful critiques of Brooks, the surreal landscapes of Simic, Merwin's deep images, Bogan's careful stanzas, Lowell's blustery lines. There are a few occasional poems, but mostly, it's a gathering of great poets hanging together because they held an important job. This will be a wonderful holiday gift for poetry lovers. (Oct.)

Library Journal

"Be careful what you say to us now./ The street-lamp is smashed, the window is jagged,/ There is a man dead in his blood by the base of the fountain./ If you speak/ You cannot be delicate or sad or clever." With these lines, Josephine Jacobsen reminds readers that despite all the hardship in the world, poetry is there to report. With this sweeping behemoth of an anthology, Norton and the Library of Congress have given readers and libraries an excellent excuse to own another book. Schmidt, former poetry editor for the New York Times Book Review, has included all of the Poet Laureate Consultants (commonly known as U.S. Poet Laureates) from Joseph Auslander (1937–41) to Kay Ryan (2007–10). Even newly named Poet Laureate W.S. Merwin is included because he served as Special Bicentennial Consultant with Rita Dove and Louise Glück (1999–2000). Schmidt gives readers a fine selection of poems for each poet, some expected and some surprises. In addition, she includes introductions that place poets in social and literary context and elaborates their contributions to the office of Consultant. For example, William Carlos Williams's term was mired in Communist controversy and health problems, and while appointed, he never served. VERDICT A hefty and worthy read that everyone will want to savor. Essential for all contemporary poetry collections.—Karla Huston, Appleton Arts Ctr., WI