The new Cambridge History of American Poetry is a formidable tome, spanning American poetry from the precolonial to the postmodern. As editors Alfred Bendixen and Stephen Burt explain in the introduction, the volume is designed to be as inclusive as possible: “we are committed to recognizing the complexity of historical forces and the multiplicity of audiences who found meaning in different kinds of poetic forms and experiences. This means a commitment to the popular as well as the elite, and to forms and writers excluded from previous discourse” (3). Surprisingly few volumes have tried to give a thorough history of American poetry (the closest equivalent is Jay Parini and Brett C. Millier’s 1998 revision of The Columbia History of American Poetry, which at a mere thirty-one chapters does not cover as much ground), and most of those that do tend to dismiss the poetry...

Article PDF first page preview

Article PDF first page preview
You do not currently have access to this content.