In October, the Library of Congress (in congress with W.W. Norton) released a new anthology that includes a brief bio and several works from each of the 43 poets who've held the position of Poet Laureate. It's an eclectic bunch, beginning with Joseph Auslander, our first Poet Laureate in 1937, best remembered for his collection "The Unconquerables", a stirring shout out to the Nazi-occupied cities in Europe. Later came Robert Pinsky, Robert Frost, William Carlos Williams, Elizabeth Bishop, Billy Collins, Rita Dove, and more recently, Louise Glück and W. S. Merwin. If you were to read all these poems one after another, it would be like walking through the Louvre; after a while, you get a bit numb. It's just too much greatness in your face. You need time and a knowledgeable guide. Seeing each of the Poets Laureate in their place on the timeline and reading their work in the context of modern American history breathes an entirely new life into the poetry we usually see in scattered fragments under the unforgiving eye of an English pop quiz. What we have here is the story of modern American poetry, which in turn tells the story of modern America. You'll also enjoy the wise and witty insights many of the PLs share about how the position affected them. (“All this fame and honor is a nice thing," says Howard Nemerov, "as long as you don’t believe it.”)
3 Reasons to Buy This Book Today:
1) No home reference shelf should be without it. Boom. Winning. (Sorry, I couldn't stop myself.)
2) Wherever you are, there is going to be a long rainy day or inexplicably sleepless night in the not distant future when you will be happier if you have this book.
3) National Poetry Month is just around the corner! We're celebrating NaPoMo with a delicious daily dose of US Poet Laureate every day in April. Reading the brief snippet alone would be like one potato chip. You'll want to have the tome handy so you can devour the whole poem. By the end of April, you will have inhaled a terrific (and completely painless) overview of the American Poets Laureate, thus making yourself a better writer, more rounded reader, and extra scintillating conversationalist at those upcoming summer cocktail parties!