New American Poets of the '90s

New American Poets of the '90s

New American Poets of the '90s

New American Poets of the '90s


Not necessarily the newest, but many of the best contemporary American poets are represented in this essential anthology, the most praiseworthy characteristic of which is the selection of several poems each from most of the 90 or so featured poets. Annotation copyright Book News, Inc. Portland, Or.


New American Poets of the '90s is not attempting to confirm or usurp an existing canon of poetry, nor is it trying to establish a new one. Its aim is to publish a representative array of some of the best and most exciting poetry being written today by young to mid-career poets whose work, the editors feel, is provocative, timely, important, and accessible. If there is any implied bias operating in our selections, it admittedly might be toward choosing work that more closely aligns itself with the spoken word, and toward work that expresses both the unique and diverse character of the contemporary American experience, whether that character is rural or urban, aesthetic or political, outward-directed or self-reflexive, and whether it was written on an Indian reservation, Main Street USA, the university, or an urban ghetto.

It is of more than passing interest to note, as the poet Barry Goldensohn has observed of the English lyric tradition, that English-based poetry seems to be the only poetry in the world which periodically revolutionizes and refreshes itself by going back to the revitalizing roots of its spoken idiom. At the same time it displays a hunger for inclusiveness that borrows technique, theory, and vision from virtually every culture in the world. This must be what accounts for the diversity of its character and the attendant sense of an ongoing "progress" in the art.

Another aspect of the contemporary American poetry scene, which has undoubtedly helped to create the character of this anthology, is that over the last twenty years or so poetry anthologies have, thankfully, lost some of their previously exclusive, elitist aura. This move toward pluralism and decentralization of aesthetic-political power, which has most likely been brought about by the new technologies in production and communication and by the proliferation of workshops throughout the country, has had the end result of bringing more new poetry to the attention of more people than ever before, and has made it easier to find and gauge the pulse of the art. This recent turn of events seems to us a historic breakthrough both for the vitality of the art and for the practical effect of bringing poet and audience more closely together than has been the case thus far in this century. As editors we are happy to be a small part of this, and we feel confident in claiming that the work presented here is both vibrant and of lasting quality.

--Jack Myers Roger Weingarten . . .

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