Magazine article First Things; A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life

The Swallow Anthology of New American Poets

Magazine article First Things; A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life

The Swallow Anthology of New American Poets

Article excerpt

THE SWALLOW ANTHOLOGY OF NEW AMERICAN POETS edited by David Yezzi Swallow Press, 360 pages, $19.95

In his introduction, editor and contributor David Yezzi suggests that this collection reconciles the traditional division in the poetry world between those who prefer classical forms and those who favor free verse. According to Yezzi, these thirty-five new poets (although many of the authors included here stretch the meaning of newcomer) have accomplished that balance within a "climate of extremes," as they choose to write their poems utilizing a variety of forms.

"The old battle lines," as he calls them, between the old and the new, the classic and the contemporary, have become entrenched. Arbitrary divisions lead to dogmatism, and from there, he says, there can be no forward movement.

Yezzi makes a good point about entrenchment. For many free-verse poets, the strictures of traditional form- the seemingly arbitrary and rigid adherence to line length, syllable counts, and end rhymes- often seem forced instead of found. Conversely, traditionalists bemoan the seeming "anything goes" milieu of the free-verse writers as sloppy, syntactically confused, loose lines.

Yezzi describes the poets of the Swallow Anthology as possessing a "unified sensibility," which he further describes as "tradition, enlivened by innovation." That the poets in the Swallow Anthology write sometimes in free verse and sometimes in traditional forms, however, isn't, in and of itself, quite enough to declare détente. Plenty of modern poets move easily between free and formal verse. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.