Illinois Voices: An Anthology of Twentieth-Century Poetry / Dictionary of Midwestern Literature, Volume One: The Authors

By Woolley, Lisa | Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, Spring 2002 | Go to article overview

Illinois Voices: An Anthology of Twentieth-Century Poetry / Dictionary of Midwestern Literature, Volume One: The Authors


Woolley, Lisa, Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society


Illinois Voices: An Anthology of Twentieth-Century Poetry. Edited by Kevin Stein and G. E. Murray. (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2001. Pp. xxiv, 366. Contributors, acknowledgments, index. Cloth, $39.95, paper $19.95.)

Dictionary of Midwestern Literature, Volume One: The Authors. Edited by Philip A. Greasley. (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2001. Pp. 666. Photos, index, appendix. Cloth, $59.95.)

The literary historian, like all historians, cannot account for the complexity of a time period, movement, or geopolitical entity Some writers will be left out, others given special emphasis. Although inherently imperfect, books, articles, presentations, displays, and classes, as well as anthologies and reference works, nonetheless organize the literature of the past and give shape to its context. Our understanding of midwestern literature will be changed by both Illinois Voices: An Anthology of Twentieth-Century Poetry and Dictionary of Midwestern Literature, Volume One: The Authors, even though they are very different in size, purpose, and scope.

Anyone who has wanted to redraw the boundaries of midwestern literature will welcome these two books. "[T]he whole town knows/ the sangamon is a living current/ that does not abide still water," poet John Knoepfle writes (IV 74), and literary history must change as our relationship to the past is altered by the present. The demands of scholarship itself necessitate new emphases. Philip A. Greasley, General Editor of Dictionary, writes, "Students seeking avenues for primary literary research and publication should consider the opportunity afforded by" the forgotten authors and young writers included in the volume (8).

In addition to their main business of being an anthology or a dictionary, both books provide a short literary history. The brief introduction to Illinois Voices cannot offer great depth but for the same reason invites a nonacademic audience to read it. Much like the poetry the anthology includes, this overview captures key moments: the founding of Poetry magazine, the passing of the state's poet laureateship from Carl Sandburg to Gwendolyn Brooks, and the awarding of the Pulitzer Prize to immigrant Lisel Mueller. Dictionary's introduction covers midwestern history, literature, and life in significant depth. Occasionally, when the editors must meet readers on familiar ground, they resort to well known images of the Midwest as mainly rural and white with a few horrible cities, and that occasional note of midwestern defensiveness creeps in. For the most part, though, the editors avoid cliches about the region and present a complex literary history for our times.

Each volume delineates reasonable criteria for selecting authors. Both Illinois Voices and Dictionary exclude what the latter refers to as "[a]ccidents of birth or residence" (7). Having carved out a larger territory to cover, Dictionary also limits inclusion to authors who have written about the Midwest and have had some influence on other midwestern writers.

Due to its smaller size, Illinois Voices is the more selective. The editors explain that they hope to "surprise and confirm" our sense of Illinois poetry (xxiii), and they succeed admirably. Most readers will no doubt be disappointed to find some of their favorite Illinoisans excluded, especially for the early part of the century. Once again, however, the editors have picked representative moments. Moreover, the twentieth century's first two decades have been the most studied period in Illinois's literary history, so the emphasis on the later period is overdue.

Illinois Voices represents various segments of the state, from silos to skyscrapers to Starved Rock. The anthology includes poems about Lincoln and Illinois history, including "American Apocalypse" by Edward Hirsch about the 1871 Chicago fire. The volume also contains poems about other places, including Angela Jackson's "Miz Rosa Rides the Bus" and David Wojahn's "`It's Only Rock and Roll but I Like It': The Fall of Saigon, 1975. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Illinois Voices: An Anthology of Twentieth-Century Poetry / Dictionary of Midwestern Literature, Volume One: The Authors
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.