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May 01, 2010


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Thanks so much for your series of posts this last week. I found all of them illuminating, as I'm sure many other readers did as well. To say nothing of all the terrific poems you presented.

Let me add my appreciative thanks to Terence's. It may be that we are living in an age of poems, rather than of poets, and the annual anthologies have certainly advanced that trend. The question pressed itself on me in a concrete way when I edited "The Oxford Book of American Poetry." The book is as big as an old-fashioned one-volume encyclopedia. And even so, there were limits: you can't include everything or everyone. But the previous edition, that of Richard Ellmann, had represented 78 poets and I chose 210, and only thirty years separate the two volumes. My assumption was that a wonderful poem merits inclusion regardless of authorship -- that the book was not to be restricted to major poets, however one defines that term. In the introduction I think I use that very phrase, that I wanted "an anthology of poems, not poets." The distinction between major and minor may have become harder to observe. Or maybe we have a profound new respect for the many contenders.

I agree that we are living in an age of poetry but I also believe that poetry has always been here since the days of old. It never went away. Now more individuals are realizing life to be so - poetic.

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I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman

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