modern American poetry

Book Review: The Penguin Anthology of Twentieth-Century American Poetry

October 22, 2011 at 3:57 pm , by

All of us collect things. Assets or debts, memories and mementos, to-do lists and checklists—collections speak to us about who we are and who we wish we were. Our collections define us.
I collect many things—hats (which I wear), books (which I read), words (which I speak). Among the many hats I wear there are several I don at the office. Not too bizarre, considering that most of us wear many—at least more than one—hats at work nowadays. I am associate managing editor, copy chief, adjunct professor, writer, translator, advocate, spectator and audience, reader. And reciter. Reciting is important because there are times when only a poem can speak the thought you want to say with precision, unambiguously, without denial or loss of meaning or intent. A poem is both truth made manifest and “earwash,” a refreshment that is an afternoon or morning tonic as well as a pick-me-up to send the blues packing. Life without poetry would not be worth living. Read more


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