Great American Prose Poems: From Poe to the Present

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David Lehman
Simon and Schuster, Jun 18, 2008 - Poetry - 352 pages
2 Reviews
A prose poem is a poem written in prose rather than verse. But what does that really mean? Is it an indefinable hybrid? An anomaly in the history of poetry? Are the very words "prose poem" an oxymoron? This groundbreaking anthology edited by celebrated poet David Lehman, editor of The Best American Poetry series, traces the form in all its dazzling variety from Poe and Emerson to Auden and Ashbery and on, right up to the present.

In his brilliant and lucid introduction, Lehman explains that a prose poem can make use of all the strategies and tactics of poetry, but works in sentences rather than lines. He also summarizes the prose poem's French heritage, its history in the United States, and the salient differences between verse and prose. Arranged chronologically to allow readers to trace the gradual development of this hybrid genre, the poems anthologized here include important works from such masters of American literature as Gertrude Stein, William Carlos Williams, e. e. cummings, Hart Crane, Ernest Hemingway, James Schuyler, Allen Ginsberg, Frank O'Hara, and Elizabeth Bishop. Contemporary mainstays and emerging poets -- Robert Bly, John Ashbery, Charles Simic, Billy Collins, Russell Edson, James Tate, Anne Carson, Yusef Komunyakaa, and Lydia Davis, among them -- are represented with their best work in the field.

The prose poem is beginning to enjoy a tremendous upswing in popularity. Readers of this marvelous collection, a must-have for anyone interested in the current state of the art, will learn why.
 

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User Review  - misirlou - LibraryThing

There's a reason why other prose poetry anthologies avoid limiting themselves to American poets. In America, there's a huge gap in time between where prose poems went from being tolerated to when they ... Read full review

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I've always enjoyed reading short stories, but over the years I've started to appreciate their form more than their plot-lines, and a careful and insightful use of language became something I increasingly valued. The first time I came across a prose poem, although I did not know it was called that at the time, was a translation of Czeslaw Milosz poem by Robert Pinsky. I was immediately fascinated by it, but I thought it was just something characteristic Milosz's style. Many years later I came across this book, and I was instantly drawn to it. I've read it and re-read it many times. It contains some of the best prose poems out there, and it helped me discover some new poets that I would have otherwise not known about. Based on that, I am adding new books to my Amazon wish list on a continuing basis. It's definitely worth buying and reading. 

Contents

Introduction
11
FRANK OHARA 19261966
26
RALPH WALDO EMERSON 18031882
27
AMY LOWELL 18741925
33
WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS 18831963
39
T S ELIOT 18881965
46
HART CRANE 18991932
52
EDWIN DENBY 19031983
56
PAUL VIOLI 1944
165
BERNADETTE MAYER 1945
171
ANNE WALDMAN 1945
178
ANDREI CODRESCU 1946
185
LYDIA DAVIs 1947
191
YUSEF KOMUNYAKAA 1947
197
TOM WHALEN 1948
205
CHARLES BERNSTEIN 1950
212

CZESLAW MILOSZ 1911
62
DAVID IGNATOW 19141997
71
KENNETH Koch 19252002
77
ALLEN GINSBERG 19261997
86
JOHN ASHBERY 1927
93
W S MERWIN 1927
101
HARRY MATHEWS 1930
108
MICHAEL BENEDIKT 1935
116
ROSMARIE WALDROP 1935
123
MARGARET ATWOOD 1939
128
FANNY HOWE 1940
135
BILLY COLLINS 1941
141
Joe BRAINARD 19421994
151
MICHAEL PALMER 1943
158
JAMES RICHARDSON 1950
218
PETER JOHNSON 1951
226
RITA DOVE 1952
231
THYLIAS Moss 1954
245
APRIL BERNARD 1956
259
NIN ANDREWS 1958
270
DENISE DUHAMEL 1961
276
CLAUDIA RANKINE 1963
282
JOE WENDEROTH 1966
291
MARK BIBBINS 1968
298
RICHARD DEMING 1970
302
Acknowledgments
331
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About the author (2008)

David Lehman, the series editor of The Best American Poetry, is also the editor of the Oxford Book of American Poetry. His books of poetry include Poems in the Manner Of, New and Selected Poems, Yeshiva Boys, When a Woman Loves a Man, and The Daily Mirror. His most recent nonfiction book is Sinatra’s Century. He teaches at The New School and lives in New York City and Ithaca, New York.

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