Synopses & Reviews
The first and only comprehensive work of its kind, The Companion to Twentieth Century Poetry in English
charts the development of poetry from 1900 to the present, across the whole of the English-speaking world, from the United States, Great Britain, and Ireland to New Zealand, Pakistan, Singapore, Trinidad and Zimbabwe--anywhere where poets write in English. Alphabetically arranged for ease of reference, it offers biographical entries on some 1,500 individual poets, as well as over one hundred entries covering important magazines, movements, literary terms and concepts.
As readable as it is comprehensive, the Companion offers a fascinating survey of this century's shift from 'poetry' to 'poetries,' as American and British traditions of poetry have made way for a growing diversity of voices, and as the burgeoning poetries of Australia, Canada, and other English-speaking countries assert their own identities. The range of poets represented in this Companion is extraordinary. Here are in-depth discussions of Yeats, Eliot, Pound, and Joyce alongside provocative assessments of W.H. Auden, Elizabeth Bishop, Wallace Stevens, and Marianne Moore. John Ashbery, Margaret Atwood, Maya Angelou, and Mary Oliver are accounted for, as well as Carolyn Forché, David Bottoms, Jorie Graham, and many other younger poets just coming into prominence. Chinua Achebee, Jack Mapanje, Femi Oyebode and other important African poets writing in English are here, as well as poets from the Caribbean, India, and even Russia.
Readers will relish this Companion's many insightful contributions from celebrated poet-critics, writing on other poets in intriguing author-subject combinations. For example, Seamus Heaney writes on Robert Lowell ("Lowell had invented a way of getting at life, of making poetry kick and freak at the edge of contemporary reality"), Ann Stevenson discusses Sylvia Plath ("In the quarter-century following her suicide, Sylvia Plath has become a heroine and martyr of the feminist movement. In fact, she was a martyr mainly to the recurrent psychodrama that staged itself within the bell jar of her tragically wounded personality"), and Tom Paulin weighs in on Ted Hughes ("His appointment as Poet Laureate in 1984 sealed his essentially shaman-like conception of his poetic mission and enabled him to speak out on environmental issues while celebrating royal weddings and babies"). Other pairings include Jay Parini on Wallace Stevens, Jon Stallworthy on Wilfred Owen and Rupert Brook, and William H. Pritchard on Robert Frost and Randall Jarrell. Each entry includes a wealth of biographical and bibliographical information, and a select bibliography at the end of the book supplies a handy source of information on poets whose work is not otherwise in print, or readily available to readers.
From Abse and Auden to Zaturenska and Zukofsky, The Oxford Companion to Twentieth-Century Poetry in English is an essential reference for students, lovers of poetry, and for poets themselves.
This Companion is both an alphabetically arranged reference work and, in its sum, a history, a map of modern poetry in English. From the last decade of the century, it offers a survey of the terrain, from 1900 to the present, and from Britain and America to New Zealand, Pakistan, Singapore, Trinidad, Zimbabwe - anywhere, in fact, where poets write in English. It charts the shift from 'poetry' to 'poetries' - from primarily British and American traditions to a rich diversity of younger poetic identities elsewhere. The only comprehensive work of its kind, it covers not just individual poets - some 1,500 of them - but also magazines, movements, concepts, and critical terms. Edited and introduced by Ian Hamilton, himself a notable poet, The Oxford Companion to Twentieth-Century Poetry in English has the distinction of including among its contributors many other celebrated poet-critics, often in intriguing author/subject combinations. For example, Tom Paulin writes on Ted Hughes, Christopher Reid on Elizabeth Bishop, Clive Wilmer on Ezra Pound, Jon Stallworthy on Rupert Brooke, Peter Porter on Lawrence Durrell, Seamus Heancy on Robert Lowell, Femi Oyebode on Jack Mapanje, and Anne Stevenson on Sylvia Plath. These and other writers offer lively and opinionated critical assessments as well as biographical and bibliographical information. And, as one soon discovers, twentieth-century poets have lived far from humdrum lives. Twenty-seven here had nervous breakdowns, nineteen served time in jail, fourteen died in battle, three were murdered, one executed. One played hockey for his country. There were fifteen suicides, and one poet who staged his own death only to reappear, still writing poetry, under a new name. From Abse and Auden to Zaturenska and Zukofsky, this is an essential work of reference for students, lovers of poetry, and for poets themselves.
About the Author
The author of several books of poetry, Ian Hamilton
is also a well-known biographer whose subjects have included Robert Lowell and J. D. Salinger. Keepers of the Flame
, a collection of his literary criticism, was published in 1992.