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Hardcover: 762 pages
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1st edition, edition (October 4, 2010)
Review by: g emil reutter
Released in 2010 this anthology covers seventy five years of American Laureates from Auslander to Merwin. The value of the anthology is not only a historic look back at who has served in the office but the development and growth of poetry in the United States. Of specific note are each Laureates view of the office, concise biographies and the selection of poems by editor Elizabeth Hun Schmidt.
The office has no specific job description. Auslander viewed the laureates position as, “… a task of building in our national library for the People of the United States a permanent sanctuary for the manuscripts and memorabilia of the poets of our tongue”. He also launched the first recorded readings, “The Poet in a Democracy”, which succeeding laureates built upon the foundation he created. Frost attempted to use the position as a bully pulpit for the arts while in term. Pinsky and Ryan reached out across America to bring poetry to the people and inspire those who love the art. William Carlos Williams and Robert Hayden survived political attacks although Williams never served in office.
Stanley Kunitz said, “ If we want to know what it felt like to be alive at any given moment in the long odyssey of the race, it is to poetry we must turn. The moment is dear to us, precisely because it is so fugitive, and it is somewhat of a paradox that poets should spend a lifetime hunting for the magic that will make the moment stay. Art is that chalice into which we pour the wine of transcendence. What is imagination but a reflection of our yearning to belong to eternity as well as to time.”
The Poets Laureate Anthology is a robust collection capturing precise moments in time reflecting not just the past but the future. The anthology is a must read for lovers of poetry and should be on the shelves of poets everywhere.
You can find The Poets Laureate Anthology in bookstores or on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Poets-Laureate-Anthology-Elizabeth-Schmidt/dp/0393061817
g emil reutter is a Philadelphia Poet
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