Synopses & Reviews
When Harriet Monroe founded Poetry
magazine in Chicago in 1912, she began with an image: the Open Door. “May the great poet we are looking for never find it shut, or half-shut, against his ample genius!” For a century, the most important and enduring poets have walked through that door—William Carlos Williams and Wallace Stevens in its first years, Rae Armantrout and Kay Ryan in 2011. And at the same time, Poetry
continues to discover the new voices who will be read a century from now.
Poetry’s archives are incomparable, and to celebrate the magazine’s centennial, editors Don Share and Christian Wiman combed them to create a new kind of anthology, energized by the self-imposed limitation to one hundred poems. Rather than attempting to be exhaustive or definitive—or even to offer the most familiar works—they have assembled a collection of poems that, in their juxtaposition, echo across a century of poetry. Adrienne Rich appears alongside Charles Bukowski; poems by Isaac Rosenberg and Randall Jarrell on the two world wars flank a devastating Vietnam War poem by the lesser-known George Starbuck; August Kleinzahler’s “The Hereafter” precedes “Prufrock,” casting Eliot’s masterpiece in a new light. Short extracts from Poetry’s letters and criticism punctuate the verse selections, hinting at themes and threads and serving as guides, interlocutors, or dissenting voices.
The resulting volume is an anthology like no other, a celebration of idiosyncrasy and invention, a vital monument to an institution that refuses to be static, and, most of all, a book that lovers of poetry will devour, debate, and keep close at hand.
"Founded in the flower of modernism, important (and importantly unpartisan) during the clash of styles and schools in the 1960s, and resurgent (as well as well-funded) today, the magazine out of Chicago has long had a place at the center of U.S. verse. Share and Wiman who now hold the titles of editor and senior editor select a delightful and powerful set of poems from the magazine's history. Though the arrangement avoids chronological order, the earliest and the most recent years stand out, from T.S. Eliot's 'The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock' and Isaac Rosenberg's WWI poetry to 21st-century work by Ange Mlinko and Laura Kasischke. In between come Marianne Moore, W.H. Auden, Lucille Clifton, and more leading lights, though the real distinction emphasized by the order lies in the poems from five or 50 years ago whose authors never became world-famous, such as the bittersweet rhymed quatrains in 'On Leaving the Bachelorette Brunch,' by the late Rachel Wetzsteon. Tantalizing bits of prose from the magazine appear, almost like bookmarks, interspersed among poems: the philosopher Richard Rorty, for example, confesses, 'I now wish that I had spent somewhat more of my life with verse.' With its friendly layout and its relative brevity, the volume feels like an extended issue of the magazine; it may find one life as a gift book, but it should find another as pleasure reading, especially for those who have not already discovered many of the poets here." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"If readers would like to sample the genius and diversity of American poetry in the last century, there's no better place to start than The Open Door."
"A high-wire anthology of electric resonance. . . . The editors arranged these redefining poems by poets of the pantheon and poets overlooked, underrated, or new in pairings and sequences of thrilling contrapuntal dynamics. Wiman's opening essay is titled 'Mastery and Mystery,' and those are, indeed, the forces at work here, inducing readers to marvel anew at the strange impulse to write poetry and the profound effort required to do it well."
"With this collection, Share and Wiman want only to promote the art of poetry, something they do exceedingly well. Highly recommended."
"A wonderful anthology. . . . In many ways this is a wonderfully democratic anthology—to get in, you don't have to be famous, you just need to be good."
“ If you need to be reminded of the incomparable poems that Poetry
magazine published first in its pages, read excellent poetry by an author you might not have discovered yet, or simply remember why poetry is worth loving, this is the book to turn to. You wont be disappointed.”
“Surely, the history of American poetry is in this elegant commanding volume. All you need is this one book in the classroom to light the fire.”
About the Author
Don Share, senior editor of Poetry¸ is a poet and the author, editor, or translator of numerous books. Christian Wiman, editor of Poetry from 2003 to 2013, is the author of three books of poetry, a volume of essays, and a memoir.
Table of Contents
Mastery and Mystery: Twenty-One Ways to Read a Century
Ezra Pound In a Station of the MetroKay Ryan Sharks TeethMarie Ponsot Anti-Romantic Roddy Lumsden The YoungLeRoi Jones Valéry as DictatorEdwin Arlington Robinson Eros TurannosAnge Mlinko It Was a Bichon Frisés Life . . .Muriel Rukeyser SongAugust Kleinzahler The HereafterT. S. Eliot The Love Song of J. Alfred PrufrockLaura Kasischke LookWeldon Kees From “Eight Variations”Robert Creeley For LoveMary Karr DisgracelandLucille Clifton sorrowsA. E. Stallings On Visiting a Borrowed Country House in ArcadiaCharles Wright Bedtime StoryDelmore Schwartz In the Naked Bed, In Platos CaveWilliam Matthews Mingus at the ShowplaceDonald Justice Men at FortyRuth Stone ForecastCraig Arnold Meditation on a GrapefruitJosephine Miles The Hampton Institute AlbumP. K. Page My Chosen LandscapeTheodore Roethke Florists Root CellarWallace Stevens Tea at the Palaz of HoonBasil Bunting From BriggflattsLouise Bogan NightRodney Jack After the DiagnosisMargaret Atwood Pig SongMichael S. Harper Blues AlabamaIsaac Rosenberg Break of Day in the TrenchesGeorge Starbuck Of LateRandall Jarrell ProtocolsTom Disch The Prisoners of WarSeamus Heaney A Dog Was Crying To-Night in Wicklow AlsoHart Crane At Melvilles TombRobert Hayden O Daedalus, Fly Away HomeCharles Bukowski A Not So Good Night in the San Pedro of the WorldAdrienne Rich Final NotationsW. H. Auden The Shield of AchillesAlbert Goldbarth He HasAlice Fulton What I LikeEdna St. Vincent Millay RendezvousSylvia Plath Fever 103Lisel Mueller In the Thriving SeasonEleanor Wilner MagnificatAtsuro Riley HutchThomas Sayers Ellis Or,Marianne Moore No Swan So FineJohn Berryman The TravelerAverill Curdy Sparrow Trapped in the AirportH. D. His PresenceRae Armantrout TransactionsGwendolyn Brooks The Children of the PoorE. E. Cummings What If a Much of a Which of a WindFrederick Seidel Mu‘allaqaGeoffrey Hill The Peacock of AldertonMay Swenson Green Red Brown and WhiteAnne Stevenson Inheriting My Grandmothers NightmareJeanne Murray Walker Little Blessing for My FloaterBrooklyn Copeland Prayers EndJack Spicer “Any fool can get into an ocean . . . ”Alan Dugan Fabrication of AncestorsEdward Dorn Dark CeilingW. S. Merwin Search PartyLorine Niedecker Three PoemsDenise Levertov Our BodiesJames Wright The BlessingRobinson Jeffers Grass on the CliffW. S. Di Piero Big City SpeechCid Corman From “Cahoots”Richard Wilbur Hamlen BrookRita Dove Old Folks Home, JerusalemDon Paterson The LieMaxine Kumin NurtureWilliam Carlos Williams Paterson, Book V: The River of HeavenTed Hughes HeatwaveFrank OHara Chez JaneReginald Dwayne Betts “For you: anthophilous, lover of flowers”Rachel Wetzsteon On Leaving the Bachelorette BrunchAdrian Blevins How to Cook a WolfA. R. Ammons Gravelly RunSamuel Menashe HereRobert Duncan Returning to Roots of First FeelingLangston Hughes Blues in StereoJames Schuyler Korean MumsJacob Saenz Sweeping the StatesGeorge Oppen Birthplace: New RochelleGary Snyder Song of the TangleBelle Randall A Childs Garden of GodsIsabella Gardner The Widows YardThom Gunn Lines for a BookFrank Bidart From “The Third Hour of the Night”William Meredith The IlliterateRhina P. Espaillat ChangelingMaria Hummel StationJames Merrill The Mad SceneW. S. Graham The Beast in the SpaceWilliam Butler Yeats The Fisherman