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Book cover of Dear Editor: A History of Poetry in Letters: The First Fifty Years, 1912-1962

Dear Editor: A History of Poetry in Letters: The First Fifty Years, 1912-1962

by Joseph Parisi (Editor), Stephen Young (Editor), Billy Collins

Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Pages: 512
Hardcover
ISBN: 9780393050929






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Overview of Dear Editor: A History of Poetry in Letters: The First Fifty Years, 1912-1962

Poignant, hilarious, and brutally frank, Dear Editor reveals the personalities and untold stories behind the creation of modern poetry.

"The history of poetry and Poetry in America are almost interchangeable, certainly inseparable," A. R. Ammons wrote. Dear Editor, in gathering over 600 surprisingly candid letters to and from the editors of Poetry, traces the development of poetry in America: Ezra Pound's opinion of T. S. Eliot ("It is such a comfort to meet a man and not have to tell him to wash his face, wipe his feet") and of Robert Frost ("dull as ditch water...[but] set to be 'literchure' someday"); Edna St. Vincent Millay's pleas for an advance ("I am become very, very thin, and have taken to smoking Virginia tobacco"); Wallace Stevens on himself ("I have a pretty well-developed mean streak"). Here are the inside stories, the rivalries between aspiring authors, the inspirations behind classics, the practicalities (and politicking) of publishing. In fascinating anecdotes and literary gossip, scores of poets offer insights into the creative process and their reactions to historic events.

Synopsis of Dear Editor: A History of Poetry in Letters: The First Fifty Years, 1912-1962

Poignant, hilarious, and brutally frank, Dear Editor reveals the personalities and untold stories behind the creation of modern poetry.

Publishers Weekly

Right now the Chicago-based magazine Poetry stands among the most prestigious journals of mainstream American verse, or what has been called "official verse culture." Eighty years ago, however, Poetry magazine mattered a lot more: under founding editor Harriet Monroe, Poetry helped create the careers of almost every major modernist poet, publishing, for example, Pound, Eliot, William Carlos Williams, Wallace Stevens, Marianne Moore and Carl Sandburg when their merits were still much in dispute. This big volume centers around the epistolary negotiations Monroe conducted during her 24 years at the journal, mostly the affirmations, negations, asides, outbursts, money-needs and apologies of the poets, along with some of Monroe's courteous and generous replies. Ezra Pound (Monroe's eyes and ears in England during the early years) comes off as typically engaged, irascible, and brilliantly coercive; Williams's letters sound searching and steely; Stevens's are warmly reserved and opinionated. Nor are the major modernists the whole tale. Amy Lowell's and Sara Teasdale's eventful lives occupy nearly a chapter each. Vachel Lindsay, famed for his performances, tells Monroe "I have tried several times to quit reciting"; the leftist Muriel Rukeyser writes to "explain why I resent the label" of propagandist. U.S. poet laureate Billy Collins provides a brief foreword, while Young and Parisi (the journal's current senior editor and editor-in-chief respectively) entertainingly flesh out the magazine's history. Also included are the correspondence of Monroe's successors, among them the poet Karl Shapiro (who left the journal's finances in perilous shape) and his successor Henry Rago (who helped rescue them afterward). The result is a book of more than academic interest detailing not just poets' relations with editors, but the creation and promotion of a fledgling American literature. (Oct.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

About the Author, Joseph Parisi

Joseph Parisi, editor in chief of Poetry, has been on the magazine's staff for over twenty-five years.

Stephen Young is senior editor of Poetry.

Billy Collins was a Poet Laureate of the United States.

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Editorials

Publishers Weekly

Right now the Chicago-based magazine Poetry stands among the most prestigious journals of mainstream American verse, or what has been called "official verse culture." Eighty years ago, however, Poetry magazine mattered a lot more: under founding editor Harriet Monroe, Poetry helped create the careers of almost every major modernist poet, publishing, for example, Pound, Eliot, William Carlos Williams, Wallace Stevens, Marianne Moore and Carl Sandburg when their merits were still much in dispute. This big volume centers around the epistolary negotiations Monroe conducted during her 24 years at the journal, mostly the affirmations, negations, asides, outbursts, money-needs and apologies of the poets, along with some of Monroe's courteous and generous replies. Ezra Pound (Monroe's eyes and ears in England during the early years) comes off as typically engaged, irascible, and brilliantly coercive; Williams's letters sound searching and steely; Stevens's are warmly reserved and opinionated. Nor are the major modernists the whole tale. Amy Lowell's and Sara Teasdale's eventful lives occupy nearly a chapter each. Vachel Lindsay, famed for his performances, tells Monroe "I have tried several times to quit reciting"; the leftist Muriel Rukeyser writes to "explain why I resent the label" of propagandist. U.S. poet laureate Billy Collins provides a brief foreword, while Young and Parisi (the journal's current senior editor and editor-in-chief respectively) entertainingly flesh out the magazine's history. Also included are the correspondence of Monroe's successors, among them the poet Karl Shapiro (who left the journal's finances in perilous shape) and his successor Henry Rago (who helped rescue them afterward). The result is a book of more than academic interest detailing not just poets' relations with editors, but the creation and promotion of a fledgling American literature. (Oct.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

Library Journal

Here is evidence that a book about, of all things, poets' wranglings with their editors can be smart, valuable, and engaging. Parisi and Young have compiled a remarkable group of letters, written from 1912 to 1962, from the files of Poetry in Chicago (the magazine that first gave us such poems as T.S. Eliot's Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock). The book is a chronological sweep of personalities, notes, gripes, and demands-firsthand accounts of explorers on the major routes, roads less traveled, dead ends and detours that the art took in the half-century after Poetry's founding. The read is good spirited, smart, and nutritious; one priceless quip included is Ezra Pound goading Harriet Monroe (founder of Poetry) about her writing style: "Have you ever let a noun out unchaperoned???" The record of the reactions of these famous American modernists to wars, the 1920s, the Great Depression, and several cultural upheavals and artistic transformations is invaluable. Highly recommended for all libraries.-Scott Hightower, Fordham Univ., New York Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

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