Click Image to Visit the Pecan Grove Press Web Page for Poetry from Paradise Valley


Poetry From Paradise Valley

Pecan Grove Press has released an anthology of poems, a sampling of works published in Valparaiso Poetry Review during its first decade, from the original 1999-2000 volume to the 2009-2010 volume.

Poetry from Paradise Valley includes a stellar roster of 50 poets. Among the contributors are a former Poet Laureate of the United States, a winner of the Griffin International Prize, two Pulitzer Prize winners, two National Book Award winners, two National Book Critics Circle winners, six finalists for the National Book Award, four finalists for the National Book Critics Circle Award, two finalists for the Pulitzer Prize, and a few dozen recipients of other honors, such as fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, etc.

Readers are encouraged to visit the Poetry from Paradise Valley page at the publisher's web site, where ordering information about the book can be found.

Best Books of Indiana 2011: Finalist. Judges' Citation: "Poetry from Paradise Valley is an excellent anthology that features world-class poetry, including the work of many artists from the Midwest, such as Jared Carter, Annie Finch, David Baker, and Allison Joseph. It’s an eclectic and always interesting collection where poems on similar themes flow into each other. It showcases the highest caliber of U. S. poetry."
—Indiana Center for the Book, Indiana State Library

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Twentieth Century American Poetry Reading List: 100 Plus

As I was preparing for the start of the fall term, which begins with my Twentieth Century American Poetry class this afternoon, I considered what works to include in the syllabus this semester. Admittedly, I always feel limited in the amount of coverage possible during the number of class periods between now and December. Indeed, I am frequently frustrated by the need to omit some poets while shaping the syllabus for about fourteen weeks of meetings. Therefore, I decided to create an additional tool for my students, an extended reading list of poets that includes many who will not fit into the class discussions.

Over the summer I encountered in print publications and online sites various “top 100” lists of books, films, recordings, etc. provided for enlightenment, entertainment, discussion, and debate. Consequently, I thought I’d attempt a list of 100 books that might present appropriate coverage of poets whose contributions represent a collective sampling of twentieth century American poetry.

As I developed the list, I adhered to some restrictions. I chose only one book from any American poet, which was simpler for those figures whose works can be found in a volume of “collected” or “selected” poetry. Still, for some poets I had to make a difficult choice between anthologies of “earlier” poems or “later” poems. Ideally, almost all the poems should have been written and originally published in the twentieth century. Some poets of the nineteenth century, who influenced twentieth century American poetry, and other younger poets, whose primary impact results from poems published after 2000, were not included.

In addition, the artificial cutoff of 100 for myself necessitated painful decisions as a number of poets (more than a dozen) whose works I enjoy very much had to be left out. In fact, some of those poets are favorites of mine much more than others that were included; however, I reminded myself this is not meant merely to be a list of my personal preferences. Moreover, to be honest, I must acknowledge that I would recommend to my students that some of the lengthy books included could be read selectively, browsing for specific significant examples by the poet, while other volumes should be more closely examined from cover to cover.

In any case, I concluded this list—valuable or not for students and readers of poetry as more than just another literary parlor game—easily could be expanded. Since I composed the following fairly quickly and spontaneously in between the fashioning of pages for my course syllabus, I am sure I will be dismayed to learn I inadvertently overlooked some worthy candidates. To avoid any further complications and questions, visitors will note the poets appear alphabetically rather than ranked in any manner. Indeed, I know such lists still often reveal themselves to contain what might seem to some as arbitrary or subjective entries.

Therefore, since I acknowledge this list is incomplete, I request readers recommend additional poets for my students and others interested, and I welcome all suggestions that might supplement this roster or offer alternate editions for the poets chosen. Thus, the “100 plus” title above refers to my invitation for added names of individuals you might provide as qualifying for inclusion on this list.

1. A.R. Ammons: Collected Poems 1951-1971 (1971)
2. Rae Armantrout: Veil: New and Selected Poems (2001)
3. John Ashbery: Selected Poems (1985)
4. John Berryman: Collected Poems 1937-1971 (1988)
5. Linda Bierds: Flight: New and Selected Poems (2008)
6. Elizabeth Bishop: The Complete Poems, 1929-1979 (1983)
7. Robert Bly: Selected Poems (1986)
8. Louise Bogan: The Blue Estuaries: Poems 1923-1968 (1968)
9. David Bottoms: Armored Hearts: Selected and New Poems (1995)
10. Gwendolyn Brooks: Selected Poems (1999)
11. Amy Clampett: The Collected Poems (1993)
12. Lucille Clifton: Blessing the Boats: New and Selected Poems, 1988-2000 (2000)
13. Billy Collins: Sailing Alone Around the Room: New and Selected Poems (2001)
14. Hart Crane: The Poems of Hart Crane (1986)
15. Robert Creeley: Selected Poems (1991)
16. E.E. Cummings: Complete Poems: 1913-1962 (1972)
17. J.V. Cunningham: The Poems of J.V. Cunningham (1997)
18. James Dickey: The Whole Motion: Collected Poems, 1945-1992 (1992)
19. Mark Doty: Atlantis (1995)
20. Rita Dove: Selected Poems (1993)
21. Robert Duncan: Selected Poems (1997)
22. Stephen Dunn: New & Selected Poems: 1974-1994 (1994)
23. Richard Eberhart: Collected Poems, 1930-1986 (1988)
24. T.S. Eliot: Complete Poems and Plays (1952)
25. B.H. Fairchild: The Art of the Lathe (1998)
26. Lawrence Ferlinghetti: These Are My Rivers: New and Selected Poems, 1955-1993 (1993)
27. Edward Field: New and Selected Poems from the Book of My Life (1987)
28. Carolyn Forché: The Country Between Us (1981)
29. Robert Frost: Complete Poems of Robert Frost (1968)
30. Alice Fulton: Cascade Experiment: Selected Poems (2005)
31. Allen Ginsberg: Collected Poems: 1947-85 (1995)
32. Louise Glück: The First Four Books of Poems (1995)
33. Jorie Graham: The Dream of the Unified Field: Selected Poems 1974-1994 (1995)
34. Barbara Guest: Selected Poems (1995)
35. R.S. Gwynn: No Word of Farewell: Poems 1970-2000 (2001)
36. H.D. [Hilda Doolittle]: Collected Poems, 1912-1944 (1983)
37. John Haines: The Owl in the Mask of the Dreamer: Collected Poems (1993)
38. Joy Harjo: How We Became Human: New and Selected Poems 1975-2001 (2002)
39. Robert Hass: Field Guide (1973)
40. Robert Hayden: Collected Poems (1985)
41. Anthony Hecht: Collected Earlier Poems (1992)
42. Richard Hugo: Making Certain It Goes On: The Collected Poems of Richard Hugo (1984)
43. Mark Jarman: Unholy Sonnets (2000)
44. Randall Jarrell: Complete Poems (1968)
45. Donald Justice: New and Selected Poems (1995)
46. Weldon Kees: The Collected Poems of Weldon Kees (1975)
47. Galway Kinnell: A New Selected Poems (2000)
48. Carolyn Kizer: Cool, Calm and Collected: Poems 1960-2000 (2001)
49. Etheridge Knight: Born of a Woman: New and Selected Poems (1980)
50. Yusef Komunyakaa: Pleasure Dome: New and Collected Poems (2001)
51. Maxin Kumin: Selected Poems 1960-1990 (1997)
52. Denise Levertov: Selected Poems (2002)
53. Philip Levine: New Selected Poems (1992)
54. Larry Levis: The Selected Levis (2000)
55. Vachel Lindsay: Selected Poems of Vachel Lindsay (1963)
56. Audre Lorde: The Collected Poems of Audre Lorde (1997)
57. Amy Lowell: Complete Poetical Works (1955)
58. Robert Lowell: Collected Poems (2002)
59. Edgar Lee Masters: Spoon River Anthology (1916)
60. Walter McDonald: Blessings the Body Gave (1998)
61. Claude McKay: Selected Poems (1953)
62. James Merrill: Collected Poems (2001)
63. Thomas Merton: The Collected Poems of Thomas Merton (1979)
64. W.S. Merwin: Selected Poems (1988)
65. Edna St. Vincent Millay: The Selected Poetry of Edna St. Vincent Millay (2001)
66. Marianne Moore: The Complete Poems of Marianne Moore (1981)
67. Howard Nemerov: Trying Conclusions: New and Selected Poems, 1961-1991 (1991)
68. Frank O’Hara: The Collected Poems of Frank O’Hara (1995)
69. Sharon Olds: Strike Sparks: Selected Poems (2004)
70. Mary Oliver: New and Selected Poems (1992)
71. Charles Olson: The Collected Poems of Charles Olson (1987)
72. Robert Pinsky: The Figured Wheel: New and Collected Poems 1966-1996 (1996)
73. Sylvia Plath: The Collected Poems (1981)
74. Ezra Pound: The Cantos of Ezra Pound (1996)
75. John Crowe Ransom: Selected Poems (1945)
76. Kenneth Rexroth: The Complete Poems of Kenneth Rexroth (2002)
77. Adrienne Rich: The Fact of a Doorframe: Poems Selected and New, 1950-1984 (1984)
78. Edwin Arlington Robinson: Collected Poems (1937)
79. Theodore Roethke: Collected Poems (1966)
80. Muriel Rukeyser: Collected Poems (1978)
81. Carl Sandburg: Complete Poems (1970)
82. Anne Sexton: Selected Poems of Anne Sexton (1988)
83. Charles Simic: Selected Poems 1963-2003 (2004)
84. Louis Simpson: Collected Poems (1988)
85. Dave Smith: The Wick of Memory: New and Selected Poems, 1970-2000 (2000)
86. W.D. Snodgrass: Selected Poems, 1957-1987 (1987)
87. Gary Snyder: No Nature: New and Selected Poems (1992)
88. William Stafford: The Darkness Around Us Is Deep: Selected Poems of William Stafford (1993)
89. Gertrude Stein: Tender Buttons (1914)
90. Wallace Stevens: Collected Poetry and Prose (1997)
91. Mark Strand: Selected Poems (1990)
92. May Swenson: Nature: Poems Old and New (1994)
93. Allen Tate: Collected Poems, 1919-1976 (1977)
94. Mona Van Duyn: Selected Poems (2002)
95. Robert Penn Warren: The Collected Poems of Robert Penn Warren (1998)
96. Richard Wilbur: Collected Poems 1943-2004 (2004)
97. C.K. Williams: Selected Poems (1994)
98. William Carlos Williams: Collected Poems of William Carlos Williams (1986)
99. Charles Wright: Negative Blue: Selected Later Poems (2000)
100. James Wright: Above the River: The Complete Poems (1992)

Readers are encouraged to view an update concerning this list.


Kevin Cutrer said...

David Mason's The Country I Remember, James Whitehead's Local Men & Domains (published in one volume), and Jared Carter's Work For The Night Is Coming, After The Lost War by Andrew Hudgins, Moon in a Mason Jar by Robert Wrigley, all sprang to my mind as books that would fit in with what you have here.

Hugh Behm-Steinberg said...

Using volumes of selected and collected poems for a list like this turns it into a list of writers more than a list of books. It might be a more interesting/challenging list to stick with individual volumes.

Anonymous said...

I think this list is complete. And where it may miss a poet or two -- another similar and better poet is there anyway. Here are a few others you may have already thought about: Hilda Doolittle, Dorothy Parker, Edward Hirsch, Diane Wakoski, Thom Gunn, Lucie Brock-Broido. I've read a lot of negativity on blogs, and in essays about the difficulty of reading Jorie Graham's work. I can understand readers sensing a disconnect in her more recent poems. Too chic, too internal. A bit like a lead singer or guitarist who always sings/plays with their back to the audience, never letting them in. Or perhaps more like an instrumental virtuoso gone mad with love over the sound of their own music. But she still is a fantastic talent. And her early work is a wonder. "The Dream of the Unified Field" is a good way to go Mr. Byrne. I love poets who are obsessed with the relationship between reader and writer. Like Graham's poem 'The Lovers' in her book "The End of Beauty" suggests -- there is this beautiful and ethereal thing that exists between poet and reader, forever shaping, evolving, tantalizing, repelling or whatever it may be. As Graham writes "... wingless this between, wingless."
-- David Robbins

Anonymous said...

Where is Bukowski?

Scott said...

Without Frank Stanford, this list is, as another "commenter" hinted, Bush-league. Enjoyable for librarians, sophomores, and the soporific blogguers. Surprised that Dickey made it here. He and Wallace Stevens keep the list from being the exact reasons why people don't and most likely never again will read poetry outside of mimeographed forcings.

Patricia Fargnoli said...

good list Ed. I'd add Jack Gilbert and Linda Gregg

Kyle Minor said...

It seems this list couldn't be complete without Andrew Hudgins and Frank Stanford and Miller Williams.

Robin Kemp said...

I like this list, Ed. Boy, you're really asking for it, aren't you?! ;-D

I would add Marilyn Hacker. She's too often overlooked in relation to her scope and skill.


Anonymous said...

No Kicking the Leaves or Museum of Clear Ideas or even, just before the century's turn, Without? Where is Donald Hall?

John Guzlowski said...

I would have to agree with one of the anonymous comments. Where is Donald Hall?

I've read most of the poets on your list and seen a number of them read, but I don't think I've ever been as moved by a poem as I've been moved by Donald Hall reading Names of Horses.

Barry Harris said...

I would argue that William Stafford's "The Way It Is" should be on the list. It is better and a more complete reading of William Stafford (and 5 years newer) than "The Darkness Around Us Is Deep". It also includes the poem he wrote on the day he died, "Are you Mr. William Stafford?" itself a tribute to his personal goal of writing every day.

The Way It Is: New and Selected Poems, introduction by Naomi Shihab Nye, Graywolf Press, 1998.

Don Share said...

I'm also happy to see Dickey here; I'd just blogged about about how he's being forgotten, but maybe I'm wrong!

Also glad someone mentioned Frank Stanford, who really should be on the list.

I can't help but want these present:

Jack Spicer
Delmore Schwartz
Louis Zukofsky
Kenneth Koch
George Oppen
Charles Reznikoff
Jay Wright

... but I'll stop now. As you can see, I like lists, myself!


Jade Blackwater said...

Thanks for sharing a list to play with... Off the top of my head, I would add Sandra Cisneros, Loose Woman, Li-Young Lee, Rose, and Jane Hirshfield Given Sugar, Given Salt, although I suppose the latter may fall beyond your year-2000 cutoff. (I can understand how limiting yourself to just 100 poets could be a challenge.)

Also, while not a specific poet, I am enamored with Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from the Middle East, Asia, and Beyond. I suppose it would be a nice "next step" for readers who explore your list.

Frank Parker said...

I'd add Robin Blaser, David Meltzer, David Gitin

Nina said...

Thanks for the list! In case anyone's interested, here's two hosted pages of the list for easy printing... unsure if the link will work directly from a comment, though...



Edward Byrne said...

Thanks, everyone, for your suggestions of additional poets. As I mentioned, any list limited to 100 will be incomplete or certainly have a few oversights, and a number of my own favorite poets were omitted as well to keep to that number, thus the "plus" part.

Also, with the list's focus on American poetry, I appreciate that some readers feel frustration that various excellent British, Irish, Canadian, and Australian poets were not included.

All your recommendations are welcome. Keep them coming!


Lesley Wheeler said...

Langston Hughes should certainly be there (either Collected Poems or Montage of a Dream Deferred). Blacks is a better book than Selected Poems for reading Gwendolyn Brooks. I would rank Amiri Baraka and Linda Hogan as more important than a couple of the writers you have here (but I won't say which!).

Jeannine said...

Some of my favorite poets from my college years were Denise Duhamel (Kinky), Dorianne Laux (Smoke), and Margaret Atwood (Selected Poems I & II).

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this list. I have been educating myself about American poetry these last few years (which perhaps makes me a proud "librarian, student, and soporific blogger") and I appreciate it when my favorite poetry blogs offer up this kind of material. I literally yelped when I saw it; it represents for me weeks and months and years of deeply enjoyable exploration. Thank you!


Robin Chapman said...

Terrific list. Consider adding
Jane Kenyon's Otherwise &
Pattiann Roger's Firekeeper!

John Guzlowski said...

American poetry in the 20th Century? I can't imagine it without Milosz. He wasn't born here but he did emigrate here in 1960, and his poems were important in many ways to American culture in the Cold War Era.

John Guzlowski said...

I think that what this list and the comments adding more names to the list suggest is that poetry isn't dead. It's alive as you or I.

Allison Vivian Fine said...

What about Paul Muldoon? Dylan Thomas? T.S. Eliot? W. H. Auden? Garcia Lorca?

Marty said...

I don't know, John, Milosz became an American, but didn't write in English. I agree that poetry is alive. Any list is impossible, though. Addonizio, Hongo, Hummer, Soto, Sanchez, Buckley, Cervantes, Scalapino, Baker, Bosselaar, Matthews, Lux among those not yet already listed. We can all go on and on, which, probably, is why you dared.

Joan Colby said...

I would like to add Gregory Orr (Gathering the Bones), Jack Gilbert and Paul Muldoon.

Gary B. Fitzgerald said...

Mark Doty but no Franz Wright?

Gary Snyder but no Robinson Jeffers?

Bradley said...

Kathryn Stripling Byer is the best living poet we have. Lose a few of these guys and make a little room for diversity!)

bataille2 said...

louis zukofsky
george oppen
lorine niedecker
delmore schwartz
jack spicer
lynn hejinian
jackson maclow
michael palmer
susan howe
rosmarie waldrop
ronald johnson
joan retallack
madeline gins

otherwise, a pretty good comprehensive list. thanks.

Jeffrey Bowen said...

Charles Bukowski - Love is a Dog from Hell
Edward Dorn - Gunslinger
Gregory Corso - Gasoline Alley
Theodor Seuss Geisel – Green Eggs and Ham
Langston Hughes – Selected Poems
Garcia Lorca - Poem of the Deep Song
Michael McClure - September Blackberries
Pablo Neruda- Twenty Love Poems
Diane Wakoski – Medea
William Butler Yeats – A Vision

Thanks, by the way, the question, the list and your site in general are a source of inspiration...

Jeffrey Bowen
Cleveland Ohio

Anonymous said...

I don't read i am a Golden Ass... &I'm singing, as Birds. Do You?

Shoshanna said...

Gerald Stern?
Phillip Levine?
Thomas Lux?
Marie Howe?
Heather McHugh?

Ann Hostetler said...

Langston Hughes!

John Guzlowski said...

Hmmm. Since no one is going to add my name, I better do it myself. John Guzlowski.

Echolocator said...

Robin Blaser's The Moth Poem, or any collection including the "serial work," if one exists, would be good.

Great list.

Jonathan said...

I was hoping someone would beat me to it...

Herbert Morris

Don Share said...

About Robin Blaser, whom I also adore... I know he was born in the U.S., but is he considered a Canadian poet?

Agree that Blacks is a better book to read Brooks in than the Selected Poems.

Lyle Daggett said...

Thomas McGrath, "The Movie at the End of the World"

Sharon Doubiago, "Hard Country"

Zoe Anglesey, "Something More Than Force"

Don Gordon, "Sea of Tranquility"

Bert Meyers, "In a Dybbuk's Raincoat"

Jenne Andrews, "Reunion"

Sheryl Noethe, "As Is"

Lorna Dee Cervantes, "DRIVE: The First Quintet"

Martin Espada, "The Republic of Poetry"

Kenneth Patchen, "Selected Poems"

Anya Achtenberg, "The Stone of Language"

Erika T. Wurth, "Indian Trains"

William Witherup, "Down Wind, Down River"

Michael Harper, "Dear John, Dear Coltrane"

Olga Cabral, "Voice/Over"

Olga Broumas, "Beginning With O"

Dale Jacobson, "Metamorphoses of the Sleeping Beast"

Floyce Alexander, "American Fires"

I also appreciated one of the comments above, suggesting that the list include individual books by poets rather than all Selected and Collected Poems collections. In the interest of that, a few by poets already on your list:

Joy Harjo, "She Had Some Horses"

Robert Bly, "The Light Around the Body"

James Wright, "The Branch Will Not Break"

Audre Lorde, "The Black Unicorn"

William Stafford, "The Rescued Year"

Adrienne Rich, "The Dream of a Common Language"

Galway Kinnell, "Body Rags"

Gary Snyder, "The Back Country"

Debra Di Blasi said...

Anne Carson's "Beauty of The Husband" or "Autobiography of Red"

H.L. Hix's "Legible Heavens" or "Shadows of Houses"

Sofierilla said...

What about Jim Morrison? Please don't tell me you left him out because he was a rock star and not worthy of being called a poet.


John Guzlowski said...

The amazing thing about these comments is that nobody so far has said, "Hey, Ed, how about taking so and so off the list!"

JJ said...

I like the list. I'd have some quibbles, but I can see the strength of most of the poets included. I do wonder about some of the comments, though. Makes me doubtful that they even READ the list. "Where's Hilda Doolittle?" "Where's T.S. Eliot?" Um...how about in the LIST! Or "What about Neruda? Yeats? Dylan Thomas?" Really? On a list of 20th Century AMERICAN poets? Sigh.

Now--please take Jorie Graham off. So many better. (And love that you included R.S. Gwynn.)

Jenny said...

Thomas L. Vaultonburg, one of the greatest poets of our generation.


John Guzlowski said...

Thanks, Jenny, I enjoyed the Vaultonburg poems on the link.

Sarah Sarai said...

A great list, especially as it's fluid. That's the beauty of posting a list of "bests" on the Web: The impossibility of constraining our poetic bounty to one number is surmounted.

I look forward to reading your reconsideration of the 100 in another fifty years, although I suggest listing 99 and allowing Anonymous or Undiscovered her or his due.

{{{& thanks for remembering Louis Simpson}}} {{{& I like what Hugh B-S wrote}}}

used Digger Derricks said...

That's a huge list, thank you :)