The Value of American Poetry?

April 17, 2006

In the Times Book Review, poet and critic William Logan looks at the latest edition of 1,132-page The Oxford Book of American Poetry as edited by David Ledhman. Logan—thankfully—is not kind to the early American poets, including W.C. Byrant, Emerson, Wheatley, Freneau, E. Taylor, and Bradstreet, all tedious bores as I recall from my undergraduate studies in Pre- and Post-Revolutionary War American literature, the last word being the most generous of terms. Logan cheerfully writes: “The dirty secret of American poetry is that until Whitman and Dickinson it was no doman good, and until the modernists it was not good again.”

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