Albert Gelpi has now completed his critical trilogy on US poetry, a project nearly fifty years in the making. The trilogy—composed of The Tenth Muse: The Psyche of the American Poet (1975), A Coherent Splendor: The American Poetic Renaissance, 1910–1950 (1987), and this present book, American Poetry after Modernism: The Power of the Word (2015)—is a rare scholarly enterprise. It closely examines high points in American poetic history from Edward Taylor to Susan Howe. I can think of a handful of similarly ambitious projects over the years: Roy Harvey Pearce’s The Continuity of American Poetry (1961), Hyatt Waggoner’s American Poets: From the Puritans to the Present (1968), Edwin Fussell’s Lucifer in Harness: American Meter, Metaphor, and Diction (1973), and Mutlu Konuk Blasing’s American Poetry: The Rhetoric of Its Forms (1987). But none of these was published recently, and none took three volumes and almost a...

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