Bibliography of American Poetry Told Through the Pulitzer Prize
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The World Doesn't End

PS 3569 I4725 W67

Charles Simic

Paragraph-length prose poems with stingers at the end. Changes thought, mixes perspective and speaks in characters often. A lot of the poems have the patina of ancient hatreds, wolves and other European themes. Heavy on Nietsche. Big on fables. All in all, a very good kick-off to the 90s. In San Francisco, on October 18, Chicagoans sweep the first national competition of a "poetry slam", an anti-academic, pro-performance mode of delivering literature (sic) to humans.


could and would if He were sought

Near Changes

PS 3543 A563 N4

Mona Van Duyn

Truly terrible. The Poetry of Menopause. She lives in St. Louis. Remind me never to look her up. Borzoi Book. Who let her in? What would Auden say? Gulf War ends, Feb. 28. Meanwhile, the first National Poetry Slam was held in San Francisco, and American Performance poetry was on the move.



Selected Poems

811.54 T2164.SE

James Tate

Good book. Very "poet-y", with lots of images and simile. From "Dear Reader": "I am trying to pry open your casket/ with this burning snowflake." Accomplished, professional poetry-- the kind of stuff you'd expect from the academy. This volume goes back to 1967. Here's another good book published in this year.



The Wild Iris

Louise Gluck

 Haven't found one yet.



Neon Vernacular

Yusef Komunyakaa

Haven't found one yet.


with an "i"

The Simple Truth

811.54 L66544.SI

Philip Levine A fine example of 1990s cover art. Seems poets were crazy to have a piece of art on the cover of their book. This one is 1910's Still Life by Henri Rousseau. Harold Bloom blurbed this book. Here's a good set: "If she were writing by candlelight/ She would be in the dark, for/ a living flame would refuse to be fed/ by pure exhaustion." This guy is the real McCoy-- a serious poet who writes about things that matter.


The Dream of the Unified Field

811.54 G7395.DR

Jorie Graham Huge focus on the indeterminate "you" in this book. A personal pet peeve. Who's "you"? She is descriptive as hell, slow in exposition, very Iowa-oriented. Keeping up with the ancient theme, she's got "The Creation of Eve" by Bartolo de Fredi (1356) on the cover. Yes, well-crafted poems, but toward what end? Certainly a wristful of bangles and a wry look in the author photo.



Alive Together: New and Selected Poems

811.54 M9465.AL

Lisel Mueller A straightforward poet. As close to a Chicago poet as we can get for the Pulitzer, at least until the chafe dies off. She says, "between these bones--/ I live here." For some reason, the book was published in Baton Rouge, Lousiana (where Ms. Mueller teaches) and London a the same time. Always amazed at that concept. The same time? The exact same time?


Black Zodiac

811.54 W9483.BL

Charles Wright I think this guy is good, and people I respect like him, but I just couldn't get into this book. They reach back to the T'ang Dynasty to pick up some art from Huai Su for the cover. Thematically, continues in the dense Iowan-style winners. Adept, decent poetry. Only problem is that is doesn't go anywhere, do anything. Poetry must.


Blizzard of One

811.54 S8975.BL

Mark Strand The best of the 1990s cover wars. It is a collage created by Strand himself. There is a quite serious-looking full-size photo of the author on the back, all wool-jacketed and scarved. This is the answer to the question, "what does a Pulitzer-winning poet look like?" Good stuff here: "'I will love the 21st century.'/ 'Oh', I said, putting my hat on, 'Oh'."