The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Poetry share button
J. D. McClatchy
Format Paperback
Dimensions 5.20 (w) x 7.99 (h) x 1.16 (d)
Pages 656
Publisher Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication Date April 2003
ISBN 9781400030934
Book ISBN 10 1400030935
About Book

Dazzling in its range, exhilarating in its immediacy and grace, this collection gathers together, from every region of the country and from the past forty years, the poems that continue to shape our imaginations. From Robert Lowell and Elizabeth Bishop, John Ashbery and Adrienne Rich, to Robert Haas and Louise Gluck, this anthology takes the full measure of our poetry's daring energies and its tender understandings.


Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly

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.)

Library Journal

Alluding to the anthology wars of a generation ago, McClatchy writes in his introduction that his choices are strictly nonpartisan (neither ``Paleface or Redskin, or Academic and Avant-Garde''). But from the 65 poets he has selected to represent the course of American poetry over the last half century--beginning with Robert Lowell and ending with Jorie Graham--it is clear his preferences are formalistic and academic. The typical poem a reader will encounter in these pages is urbane, finely honed, and smoothly accomplished. As in all anthologies, the omissions and inclusions are telling. Where are Rexroth, Kees, and Rukeyser? Why Cunningham, Bowers, Feldman, and Garrigue and not Ignatow, Brooks, Blackburn, and Bly? While it is a delight to have many of the poets McClatchy has chosen collected together in a reasonably priced edition, a greater variety of voice and aesthetic would have made this anthology a livelier survey of the state of contemporary American poetry. Still, it is a useful addition to most collections. For the 100 most anthologized poems in English, see review of The Concise Columbia Book of Poetry, p. 74.--Ed.-- Christine Sten strom, New York Law Sch. Lib.