Challenging the common perception of poets as standing apart from the mainstream of American culture, Robert von Hallberg gives us a fresh and unpredictable assessment of the poetry that has come directly out of the American experience since 1945.
Who reads contemporary American poetry? More people than were reading new poetry in the 1920s, von Hallberg shows. How do poets respond to the public preoccupations of their readers? Often with fascination. Von Hallberg put the poems of Robert Creeley and John Ashbery together with the postwar outburst of systems analysis. The 1950s tourist poems of John Hollander, Adrienne Rich, W. S. Merwin, and James Merrill are treated as the cultural side of America’s postwar rise to global political power There are chapters on the political poems of the 1950s and 1960s, and on Robert Lowell’s sympathy for the imperialism of his liberal contemporaries. Poems of the 1970s on pop culture, especially Edward Dorn’s Slinger, and some from the suburbs of the 1980s, are shown to reflect a curious peace between the literary and the mass cultures.
Robert von Hallberg has written a thoughtful, energetic, and discriminating refutation of the quaint proposition ‘Poetry is dead.’ In doing so, he has explored some of the best of the most recent poetry… It is the most serious treatment of our recent poetry available.
This is a wide-ranging and unusually interesting book.
Here is excellent critical writing on an unusual and imaginative selection of poets, including James Merrill, Robert Lowell, and Edward Dorn. Von Hallberg’s discussion of these writers is especially insightful.
This is a bold and original book. It will enrage, it will provoke; at all events it should not be missed.
Far the best account yet written of the post–World War II poetry scene in America.
- 288 pages
- Harvard University Press
From this author
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