Evaluations of US Poetry since 1950, Volume 1
312 pages, 6 x 9
Release Date:01 Dec 2021

Evaluations of US Poetry since 1950, Volume 1

Language, Form, and Music

University of New Mexico Press

Over the last sixty years scholars and critics have focused on literary history and interpretation rather than literary value. When value is addressed, the standards are usually political and identitarian. The essays collected in both volumes of Evaluations of US Poetry since 1950 move away from esoteric literary criticism toward a more evaluative and speculative inquiry that will serve as the basis from which poets will be discussed and taught over the next half-century and beyond. Von Hallberg and Faggen have curated a diverse selection of authors to explore this topic. Volume 1 focuses on voice, language, form, and musicality. Stephen Yenser writes about Elizabeth Bishop, Stephanie Burt about C. D. Wright, Nigel Smith about Paul Simon, and Marjorie Perloff about Charles Bernstein, among others. The essays do not provide an exhaustive survey of recent poetry. Instead, Evaluations of US Poetry since 1950 presents readers with more than thirty different models of literary absorption and advocacy. This is done in explicit hope of reorienting the criticism of poetry.

In Evaluations of US Poetry since 1950, the editors have assigned a group of eminent poetry scholars the old task of defending poetry: they must defend poems they value and the values the poems bear. The result, contrary to the intuition that has led generations of poetry scholars to avoid evaluating the poems they study, is anything but undemocratic. These essays make American poetry a place of celebration (because the poems are truly compelling) as well as contest (because they are so different). Aaron Kunin, author of Cold Genius

Robert von Hallberg is a professor of literature at Claremont McKenna College. He is the author and editor of several books, including The Maltese Falcon to Body of Lies: Spies, Noirs, and Trust (UNM Press). Robert Faggen is the Barton Evans and H. Andrea Neves Professor of Literature at Claremont McKenna College. He is the author, editor, and coeditor of several books, including The Cambridge Introduction to Robert Frost.


Robert Faggen and Robert von Hallberg


Chapter One. On Voice as a Category of Analysis; or, Lyric Address

Linda Gregerson

Chapter Two. The Extravagance of Elizabeth Bishop

Stephen Yenser

Chapter Three. James Merrill, Off the Gold Standard

Langdon Hammer

Chapter Four. Why the Poetry of C. D. Wright Is Likely to Last a Long Time (with Attention to Why Poetry Lasts, More Generally)

Stephanie Burt

Chapter Five. Miłosz’s "Ars Poetica?"

Robert Faggen


Chapter Six. J. H. Prynne’s Twist on Charles Olson

John Wilkinson

Chapter Seven. The Value of George Oppen’s Small Words

Katerina Stergiopoulou

Chapter Eight. On Harryette Mullen

Scarlett Higgins


Chapter Nine. #CageFreePoetry

Charles Bernstein

Chapter Ten. "Funny Ha-Ha or Funny Peculiar?" Recalculating Charles Bernstein’s Poetry

Marjorie Perloff

Chapter Eleven. The Recipe for Charles Wright

John Farrell

Chapter Twelve. The Warm Variety of Risk: Richard Wilbur and Edgar Bowers

Kenneth Fields


Chapter Thirteen. Songs and Their Lyrics: Any Room at the Feast?

Nigel Smith

Chapter Fourteen. Jay Wright: A Few Words of Appreciation

Danielle S. Allen

Chapter Fifteen. Nathaniel Mackey and the Music

Robert von Hallberg



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