Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

100 Essential Modern Poems

Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

100 Essential Modern Poems

Article excerpt

POETRY 100 Essential Modern Poems, edited by Joseph Parisi. Ivan R. Dee, October 2005. $24.95

Typically, a poetry anthology offers several poems from major poets, and then a handful or even just one or two poems from poets of lesser reputation. Many, but not all, anthologies add a short paragraph of elementary biographical information for each poet. This splendid new anthology offers a different formula. Eighty poets are represented by a total of just one hundred poems, so the great majority of poets are represented by one poem only. However, Parisi gives each poet a lengthy and well-considered biographical and critical introduction. The resulting book, for a poetry anthology, is of course rather prose-heavy. But as a rich, concise education in modern poetry this book can scarcely be surpassed.

Parisi begins with Yeats and ends with Rita Dove. Of course, lists of the hundred greatest (or essential) movies or novels or modern poems are splendid for the purpose of starting an argument. I found myself in almost complete agreement with Parisi's choice of poets, even down to the particular poems selected. …

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