100 Essential Modern Poems selected and introduced by Joseph Parisi
As editor for two decades of Chicago's venerable Poetry magazine, Joseph Parisi spent his working hours looking for the best of contemporary poetry. His knowledge and judgment are put to good use in 100 Essential Modern Poems, intended as a kind of vade mecum, a "go with me" guide to make it easier to approach the vast poetry shelves in your favorite bookstore.
The poems collected here are modern both chronologically and in the broad sense that, in Parisi's judgment, their language, ideas, forms, and sensibilities "express the spirit of modern times." They are the work of 80 poets, born between 1865 and 1952, all writing in English, about two-thirds of them American (all but a handful from east of the Mississippi). Yeats, Frost, Eliot, Auden, and Heaney are represented along with a few dozen other famous names; but there are also a couple of dozen poets whose names will not be known, or will be only vaguely known, to the educated general reader.
Parisi provides an engaging sketch of each poet's life and work. These sketches give a local habitation to the names, make informed connections among the poets and between the poems and the literary developments of their times, and include suggestions for further reading.
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This article appeared in the Spring 2006 article of the Claremont Review of Books