Contemporary American Poetry
Revised and Expanded Second Edition
Preface to the Second Edition
Index of Poets
Index of Titles
Index of First Lines
William Stafford (b. 1914) comes from Kansas and was educated at the universities of Kansas, Wisconsin and Iowa. He has taught in California and Indiana and is now at Lewis and Clark College in Oregon. West of Your City appeared in 1960, and Travelling Through the Dark (winner of the National Book Award) in 1962. In 1966 he published The Rescued Year and in 1970 Allegiances.
Travelling through the Dark
Returned to Say
At Cove on the Crooked River
With My Crowbar Key
Dudley Randall (b. 1914) is a librarian in Detroit, and publisher of the Broadside Press, which prints broadsides and books by black American poets. Randall published some of his poems, together with poems by Margaret Danner, in Poem Counterpoem (1966), and a second collection, Cities Burning, in 1968.
David Ignatow (b. 1914) has lived most of his life in Manhattan. In 1961 he published Say Pardon, and in 1964 Figures of the Human, which collected poems from volumes that had gone out of print. Rescue the Dead, from which all of these poems are taken, was published in 1968. In 1970 he published Poems 1934-1969.
Robert Lowell (1917-77) was a member of the Bostonian family that included a president of Harvard and the poets Amy and James Russell. He attended Harvard and Kenyon and studied with John Crowe Ransom. Lord Weary's Castle (1946), Lowell's first full-scale book, won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1947. The Mills of the Kavanaghs followed in 1951, and Life Studies (which won the National Book Award) in 1959. A book of translations, Imitations, appeared in 1961, and a translation of Racine's Phedre in 1961. He published a new collection of poems, For the Union Dead, in 1964, and a collection of his plays, The Old Glory, in 1965. His most recent collections of poems are Near the Ocean (1967), Notebooks (1969), a revised Notebook 1970, For Lizzie and Harris (1973), History (1973), and The Dolphin (1973).
Robert Duncan (b. 1919) comes from Oakland, California, and has continued to live near by. He has edited the Experimental Review and Phoenix, and taught at Black Mountain College and the University of Buffalo. Among his books are The Opening of the Field (1960), Roots and Branches (1964), and Bending the Bow (1968).
Reed Whittemore (b. 1919) was born in New Haven, Connecticut, and attended Yale University. He taught at Carleton College, was consultant in poetry at the Library of Congress in 1964-65, and is now on the staff of the National Institute of Public Affairs in Washington, D.C. He has published six volumes of poetry, of which the most recent is Poems New and Selected (1967).
Howard Nemerov (b. 1920) joined the Royal Canadian Air Force after graduating from Harvard, and flew in England during the Second World War. He has published considerable literary criticism, three novels, a book of short stories and an autobiographical Journal of the Fictive Life, as well as several books of poems. New and Selected Poems appeared in 1960 and was followed by The Next Room of the Dream (1962) and The Blue Swallows (1967).
Richard Wilbur (b. 1921) was educated at Amherst College and Harvard, where he took an M.A. in 1947, and was a Junior Fellow in the Society of Fellows 1947-50. He has taught at Harvard, Wellesley and Wesleyan University, and he has been a Guggenheim Fellow and received a Prix de Rome. His books of poems include The Beautiful Changes (1947), Ceremony (1950), Things of This World (1956), Poems 1943-1956 (1957) and Advice to a Prophet (1961). In 1957 he received the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award for Things of This World. He is also an accomplished translator, especially known for his translation of plays by Molière, The Misanthrope (1955) and Tartuffe (1963). In 1969 he published a new collection of poems, Walking to Sleep.
Anthony Hecht (b. 1922) is a native of New York City and attended Kenyon College, where he studied with John Crowe Ransom. He has taught at Smith College, Bard, and the University of Rochester. He has been a Guggenheim Fellow and Hudson Review Fellow. A Summoning of Stones appeared in 1954, and The Hard Hours (which included a selection from the earlier book) was published in 1967 and received the Pulitzer Prize.
James Dickey (b. 1923) was born in Georgia and has lived most of his life in the South. He has been a Guggenheim Fellow, consultant in poetry for the Library of Congress, and teaches at the Unviersity of South Carolina. In 1967 he gathered his verse together in Poems 1957-67. In 1968 he collected his criticism under the title From Babel to Byzantium. His most recent collection of poems is Eyebeaters, Blood, Victory, Madness, Buck-head and Mercy (1970).
Denise Levertov (b. 1923) comes from Ilford in Essex, England and served as a nurse during the Second World War, when her poems were first published by Wrey Gardiner in London. She married the American writer, Mitchell Goodman, and has lived in the United States since 1948. He American books include Here and Now (1957), Overland to the Islands (1958), With Eyes at the Back of Our Heads (1960), The Jacob's Ladder (1961), O Taste and See! (1964), The Sorrow Dance (1967) and Relearning the Alphabet (1970).
John Logan (b. 1923) is editor of Choice, and teaches at the University of Buffalo. His books of poems are Cycle for Mother Cabrini (1955), Ghosts of the Heart (1960), Spring of the Thief (1963), and Zigzag Walk: Poems 1963-1968 (1969).
Louis Simpson (b. 1923), born in Jamaica in the West Indies, came to the United States in 1940, and attended Columbia University. He spent three years in the United States Army, mostly in the glider infantry, and received his citizenship at Berchtesgaden. He has been a publisher, and has taught at the University of California, Berkeley and at Stony Brook in Long Island. He has published a novel, a critical book and six books of poems. At the End of the Open Road won the Pulitzer Prize in 1964, Selected Poems appeared in 1966 and The Adventures of the Letter I in 1971.
Edgar Bowers (b. 1924) was born in Georgia, and attended the University of North Carolina and Stanford, where he studied with Yvor Winters. He has been a Sewanee Review Fellow and a Guggenheim Fellow. He now teaches at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His books of poems are The Form of Loss (1956) and The Astronomers (1965).
John Haines (b. 1924) was born in Virginia, and in the late forties studied painting and sculpture in Washington and New York. He went to Alaska in 1947, and lived in a cabin which he built himself some seventy miles from Fairbanks. He published Winter News in 1966 and The Stone Harp in 1971.
Donald Justice (b. 1925) was born in Miami, Florida, where he attended the University of Miami. He has studied at Stanford University and at the University of North Carolina. He teaches at the State University of Iowa. The Summer Anniversaries was the Lamont Poetry Selection in 1959, and was followed by Night Light in 1967.
Robert Bly (b. 1926) was born on the Western plains of Minnesota and attended St. Olaf's College and Harvard University. He is editor of the literary magazine The Seventies, and spent a year in Norway on a Fulbright, translating Scandinavian poetry and prose. Later he returned to Norway and to England on a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Ford Foundation Grant. His poems have been collected in Silence in the Snowy Fields (1962) and in The Light Around the Body, which won the National Book Award in 1968.
Robert Creeley (b. 1926) was raised in Massachusetts, attended Harvard, and served in India and Burma with the American Field Service during the war. Later he lived in France, Spain, and Guatemala, where he edited and taught school. He has taught at Black Mountain College, at the University of New Mexico and now at San Francisco State. He has published a novel and a book of short stories, as well as several volumes of poetry. His poems are available in three volumes, For Love (1962), Words (1967), and Pieces (1969).
James Merrill (b. 1926) is a graduate of Amherst College and lives in Stonington, Connecticut. He has published two novels and several books of poems, including Nights and Days, which won the National Book Award in 1967. Poems 1948-1961 appeared in England in 1962. The Fire Screen appeared in 1969.
W. D. Snodgrass (b. 1926) grew up in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, where he majored in music at Geneva College. After service in the Navy he attended the State University of Iowa, and taught at Cornell, Rochester and Wayne State University in Detroit. He is now teaching at Syracuse University. His first book of poems, Heart's Needle (1959), received a Pulitzer Prize in 1960. In 1968 he published After Experience.
A. R. Ammons (b. 1926) was born in Whiteville, North Carolina. After many years in business, Ammons took a position teaching at Cornell University. He has published six books of poems, including Selected Poems (1968), Uplands (1970) and Briefings (1971).
Allen Ginsberg (b. 1926) was born in Paterson, New Jersey, the son of a school teacher and poet. He attended Columbia College, and with the publication of Howl in 1957 he became a spiritual leader of the young in America. Kaddish (1961) was his next collection, followed by Reality Sandwiches (1963) and Planet News in 1968.
John Woods (b. 1926) was born in Martinsville, Indiana, and teaches at Western Michigan University. He is the author of books of poetry, including The Cutting Edge (1966), Keeping Out of Trouble (1968) and Turning to Look Back: Poems 1955-1970 (1971).
Frank O'Hara (1926-66) grew up in New England and attended Harvard and the University of Michigan, where he won a Hopwood Award. Most of his adult life he spent in New York, one of the group of poets associated with contemporary painters. He worked for Art News and the Museum of Modern Art, where he was an assistant curator of exhibitions at the time of his accidental death. The Museum published a posthumous collection of his poems illustrated by painters who were his friends, In Memory of My Feelings. In 1971, Knopf published The Collected Poems of Frank O'Hara.
John Ashbery (b. 1927), a native of Sodus, New York, was educated at Deerfield and Harvard. He has worked for Art News and been art critic for the Paris edition of the New York Herald Tribune. He has published four principal collections of poems, Some Trees (Yale Series of Young Poets, 1956), The Tennis Court Oath (1962), Rivers and Mountains (1966) and The Double Dream of Spring (1970).
Galway Kinnell (b. 1927) was born in Rhode Island and attended Princeton University. He has lived in France, where he taught at Grenoble, and in Iran. He has translated Yves Bonnefoy and Villon, among other French poets. He lives in an old farmhouse in Vermont, from which he occasionally departs to teach for a semester or two. He has published What a Kingdom It Was (1960), Flower Herding on Mount Monadnock (1964), Body Rags (1968) and The Book of Nightmares (1971).
W. S. Merwin (b. 1927) was born in New York City, raised in Pennsylvania, and educated at Princeton University. He has spent most of the last two decades in Spain, England and France, where he has a small cottage. He has published numerous translations from Spanish and French. His seven books of poems include The Drunk in the Furnace (1960), The Moving Target (1963), The Lice (1967), and The Carrier of Ladders (1970).
James Wright (b. 1927) is a native of Ohio, and studied under John Crowe Ransom and Theodore Roethke. He has been a Kenyon Review Fellow, and has lived in Austria on a Fulbright Award. He taught at the University of Minnesota and now teaches at Hunter College in New York. His books of poems are The Green Wall (Yale Series of Younger Poets, 1957), Saint Judas (1959), The Branch Will Not Break (1963), Shall We Gather at the River (1968). His Collected Poems appeared in 1971.
Anne Sexton (1928-74) began writing poems in 1957. To Bedlam and Part Way Back appeared in 1960, followed by All My Pretty Ones (1962), Live or Die, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1967, Transformations (1971), Book of Folly (1972) and The Death Notebooks (1974).
Donald Hall (b. 1928) is editor of this anthology. He was born in Connecticut, and since 1957 has lived in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He spent two years at Oxford on a Henry Fellowship, and has returned to spend two more years in England subsequently. His books of poems include Exiles and Marriages (1955), The Dark Houses (1958), A Roof of Tiger Lilies (1963), The Alligator Bride (1969) and The Yellow Room love poems (1971).
X. J. Kennedy (b. 1929) is a native of New Jersey and took his B. A. at Seton Hall University, going to the University of Michigan for graduate study. His first book of poems, Nude Descending a Staircase, was the Lamont Poetry Selection for 1961. He teaches at Tufts University. In 1969 he published a second book of poems, Growing into Love.
Adrienne Rich (b. 1929), a native of Baltimore, published her first book of poems when she was a senior at Radcliffe College. She lives in Manhattan. She has been a Guggenheim Fellow and has held an Amy Lowell Traveling Scholarship. Her most recent books are Snapshots of a Daughter-in-Law (1963), Necessities of Life (1966), Leaflets (1969), and The Will to Change (1971).
Edward Dorn (b. 1929) was born in Illinois, and attended Black Mountain College. He lived for some time in the northwest of the United States, especially in Pocatello, Idaho. Recently, he spent several years as a visiting professor at the University of Essex, in England. Some of his books of poems are The Newly Fallen (1961), Geography (1965), The North Atlantic Turbine (1967) and Gunslinger (Book I, 1968; Book II, 1969).
Gary Snyder (b. 1930) has lived most of the past decade in Japan, but has now settled in northern California in a house--Kitkitdizze--which he built himself. His principal books are Riprap (1959), Myths and Texts (1960), The Back Country (1968) and Regarding Wave (1970).
Sylvia Plath (1932-1963) was born in Boston and went to Smith College. On a Fulbright to Cambridge she met Ted Hughes, the English poet, whom she married in 1956. She published her first book of poems, The Colossus, in 1960. Shortly after the birth of her second child in 1962, she wrote the poems of her posthumous volume, Ariel (1965).
Etheridge Knight (b. 1933) was born in Corinth, Mississippi. He has written of himself, "I died in Korea from a shrapnel wound and narcotics resurrected me. I died in 1960 from a prison sentence and poetry brought me back to life." His book of poems is called Poems from Prison, and appeared in 1968. He was released from the Indiana State Prison in December 1968.
Michael Benedikt (b. 1937) lives in New York. The Body was published in 1968, Sky in 1970 and Mole Notes in 1971. He has also published considerable translation.
Tom Clark (b. 1941) grew up in Chicago and was graduated from the University of Michigan in 1963, where he won a Major Hopwood Award for poetry. He then attended Cambridge University and the University of Essex, returning to the United States in 1967. He now lives in California. His first major collection of poems, Stones, appeared in 1969 and Air in 1970.
Ron Padgett (b. 1942) was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma and edited a magazine while he was still in high school which included work by Allen Ginsberg, Robert Creeley and LeRoi Jones. With several other artists from Tulsa, he moved to New York, and currently lives in the East Village. His book of collaborations with Ted Berrigan, Bean Spasms, appared in 1967. In 1969 he published a collection of his own poems, called Great Balls of Fire.