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Three Centuries of American Poetry


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In the exceedingly brief, almost offhand introduction to this chunky anthology, the editors assert that "there ain't no canon," and that their aim is to hold out "an invitation to the reader of today and to those poets whose names we do not yet know." Such sloppy vagaries aside, one assumes that their intent is to represent diversity of a sort, but in fact two-thirds of the volume is made up of 19th-century poetry covered far more thoroughly in the Library of America's American Poetry: The Nineteenth Century (LJ 9/1/93), and no rationale is given for the rather strange cut-off date of 1923‘unless it has something to do with copyright. There are the usual heavy doses of Whitman, Dickinson, and Stevens, a smattering of spirituals, popular song lyrics, and Native American poems, along with an occasional dash of obscure names such as Ellen Sturgis Hooper and Lucretia Davidson. But given its lack of headnotes or other supporting scholarly materials, this is yet one more hastily contrived, redundant anthology no one has been waiting for. Not recommended.‘Fred Muratori, Cornell University Lib., Ithaca, NY

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