Cover image for The Vintage book of contemporary American poetry
The Vintage book of contemporary American poetry
McClatchy, J. D., 1945-
Second edition, revised and expanded edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Vintage Books, 2003.
Physical Description:
xxxiv, 617 pages ; 21 cm
General Note:
"A Vintage original"--T.p. verso.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS615 .V46 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
PS615 .V46 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



Dazzling in its range, exhilarating in its immediacy and grace, this collection gathers together, from every region of the country and from the past forty years, the poems that continue to shape our imaginations. From Robert Lowell and Elizabeth Bishop, John Ashbery and Adrienne Rich, to Robert Haas and Louise Glück, this anthology takes the full measure of our poetry's daring energies and its tender understandings.

Other poets include:
Sylvia Plath
James Merrill
Amy clampitt
Jorie Graham
W. S. Merwin
Charles Simic
Allen Ginsberg
Frank O'Hara
Anne Sexton
Robert Creeley
Sharon Olds
Mary Oliver
Robert Pinsky
Mark Strand
Denise Levertov
Richard Wilbur
May Swenson
Michael Palmer
Mark Doty
Yusef Komunyakaa

Author Notes

J. D. McClatchy was born Joseph Donald McClatchy Jr. in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania on August 12, 1945. He received a bachelor's degree from Georgetown University and a Ph.D. in English literature from Yale University. He taught at Yale University and Princeton University. He was the editor of The Yale Review from 1991 until his retirement in 2017.

He was a poet, editor, anthologist, translator, and critic. He wrote eight volumes of poetry including Scenes from Another Life, Stars Principal, Kilim, Ten Commandments, The Rest of the Way, Mercury Dressing, Hazmat, and Plundered Hearts. He edited the Library of America's 2007 volume Thornton Wilder: Collected Plays and Writings on Theater. His volumes of criticism included White Paper: On Contemporary American Poetry and Twenty Questions. His anthologies included Poets on Painters: Essays on the Art of Painting by Twentieth-Century Poets, The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Poetry, and Love Speaks Its Name: Gay and Lesbian Love Poems. His poems and essays appeared in numerous publications including The New Yorker, The New York Times Book Review, and The Paris Review. He received two Lambda Literary Awards and Poetry magazine's Levinson Prize. He was also the author of opera librettos. He died from cancer on April 10, 2018 at the age of 72.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

The end of the century approaches, preceded by the fanfare of canonization. Whose work will last like granite, whose disappear like ephemera in fall? Which literary movements will spawn new schools, which float away like gossamer summer? This collection is fairly representative of the diversity of American poetry at the turn of the millennium. We see the ornamental excesses of Amy Clampitt cheek-by-jowl with Frank Bidart's inspired ravings, hear Adrienne Rich's bell tones beside Anne Sexton's trumpet. As with any such work, some choices seem arbitrary: Why Gjertrud Schnackenberg but not Ntozake Shange? J. V. Cunningham but not Gwendolyn Brooks? (Such anthologies attract such quibbles.) For the poets selected, however, the chosen poems are both representative and eloquent. An excellent choice for the small to medium-size public library without an extensive collection of modern poetry. ~--Pat Monaghan

Publisher's Weekly Review

Poetry devotees will be familiar with much of the work in this fine collection, which focuses on the period from WW II until the present. Sixty-five poets, including such well-known writers as Robert Lowell, Allen Ginsberg, Theodore Roethke, Anne Sexton, James Dickey, Denise Levertov and Gary Snyder, are represented by anywhere from one to a dozen poems each, as well as a brief biography that touches on the writer's aesthetic ideas. McClatchy, himself a poet and critic, has done an exceptional job of selecting works that typify the poets' styles and beliefs. Standouts are Elizabeth Bishop's ``In the Waiting Room,'' about the poet's first perception of herself in relation to others; Randall Jarrell's ``The Woman at the Washington Zoo,'' which deals with the dull, emotionless routine of modern life; Frank O'Hara's ``Having a Coke with You,'' a dizzy declaration of love during a visit to a New York museum; and Mark Strand's ``Keeping Things Whole,'' in which the poet sees his presence in the world as subtracting from the whole of reality. Unfortunately, the poems are not dated, giving the reader no sense of the writers' chronological development. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Alluding to the anthology wars of a generation ago, McClatchy writes in his introduction that his choices are strictly nonpartisan (neither ``Paleface or Redskin, or Academic and Avant-Garde''). But from the 65 poets he has selected to represent the course of American poetry over the last half century--beginning with Robert Lowell and ending with Jorie Graham--it is clear his preferences are formalistic and academic. The typical poem a reader will encounter in these pages is urbane, finely honed, and smoothly accomplished. As in all anthologies, the omissions and inclusions are telling. Where are Rexroth, Kees, and Rukeyser? Why Cunningham, Bowers, Feldman, and Garrigue and not Ignatow, Brooks, Blackburn, and Bly? While it is a delight to have many of the poets McClatchy has chosen collected together in a reasonably priced edition, a greater variety of voice and aesthetic would have made this anthology a livelier survey of the state of contemporary American poetry. Still, it is a useful addition to most collections. For the 100 most anthologized poems in English, see review of The Concise Columbia Book of Poetry, p. 74.--Ed.-- Christine Sten strom, New York Law Sch. Lib. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



TABLE OF CONTENTS INTRODUCTION  A NOTE ON THE SECOND EDITION, 2003  ROBERT LOWELL   The Quaker Graveyard in Nantucket  Memories of West Street and Lepke  Man and Wife  Skunk Hour  The Mouth of the Hudson  For the Union Dead  Waking Early Sunday Morning  History  The Nihilist as Hero  Reading Myself  Obit  Fishnet  Dolphin  Epilogue  ELIZABETH BISHOP  The Bight  Over 2,000 Illustrations and a Complete Concordance  At the Fishhouses  The Shampoo  Brazil, January 1, 1502  Under the Window: Ouro Prêto  The Armadillo  Filling Station  In the Waiting Room  One Art  Poem  THEODORE ROETHKE  Cuttings  Root Cellar  The Shape of the Fire  The Waking  I Knew a Woman  In a Dark Time   JOHN BERRYMAN  The Moon and the Night and the Men  from  The Dream Songs (1, 4, 5, 14, 29, 46, 76, 77, 143, 257, 384)  RANDALL JARRELL  90 North  Eighth Air Force  The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner  The Woman at the Washington Zoo  Cinderella  Next Day  Well Water  ROBERT PENN WARREN  Masts at Dawn  Birth of Love  Rattlesnake Country  Evening Hawk  CHARLES OLSON  The Kingfishers  J. V. CUNNINGHAM  For My Contemporaries  To My Wife  from ACentury of Epigrams (29, 53, 55, 62, 76)  ROBERT HAYDEN  Night, Death, Mississippi  Frederick Douglass  Middle Passage  JEAN GARRIGUE  Amsterdam Letter  Cracked Looking Glass  After Reading  The Country of the Pointed Firs  MAY SWENSON  Teleology  Unconscious Came a Beauty  Stone Gullets  Staying at Ed's Place  Strawberrying  ROBERT DUNCAN  APoem Beginning with a Line by Pindar  Styx  WILLIAM MEREDITH The Illiterate  Thoughts on One's Head  Consequences  Country Stars  The Jain Bird Hospital in Delhi  HOWARD NEMEROV Storm Windows Writing Money The Dependencies Learning the Trees  Because You Asked About the Line Between Prose and Poetry  The War in the Air  RICHARD WILBUR  ABaroque Wall-Fountain in the Villa Sciarra  Looking into History  Love Calls Us to the Things of This World  Mind  Advice to a Prophet  Walking to Sleep  Hamlen Brook  MONA VAN DUYN  Homework   Into Mexico  The Twins  AView  The Stream HOWARD MOSS  The Pruned Tree  The Wars  Ménage à Trois  Elegy for My Sister  Rules of Sleep  Einstein's Bathrobe  JAMES DICKEY  The Heaven of Animals  The Hospital Window  The Sheep Child  The Strength of Fields  ANTHONY HECHT  AHill  Third Avenue in Sunlight  "More Light! More Light!"  Peripeteia  The Feast of Stephen  JAMES SCHUYLER  The Crystal Lithium  Shimmer  Korean Mums  DENISE LEVERTOV  Clouds  The Ache of Marriage  Intrusion  Seeing for a Moment  Prisoners  RICHARD HUGO  Graves at Elkhorn  The Lady in Kicking Horse Reservoir  Degrees of Gray in Philipsburg  The River Now  EDGAR BOWERS  An Afternoon at the Beach  Amor Vincit Omnia  from  Autumn Shade (3, 6, 8, 9)  CAROLYN KIZER  AMuse of Water  Amusing Our Daughters  from Pro Femina (I, II)  DONALD JUSTICE  The Evening of the Mind  Men at Forty  The Tourist from Syracuse  Variations on a Text by Vallejo  The Assassination  Mule Team and Poster  FRANK O'HARA  To the Harbormaster  A Step Away from Them  Meditations in an Emergency  Why I Am Not a Painter  The Day Lady Died  Having a Coke with You  Ave Maria  DAVID WAGONER  The Best Slow Dancer  The Naval Trainees Learn How to Jump Overboard  The Excursion of the Speech and Hearing Class  Five Dawn Skies in November  Making Camp  The Source  ROBERT CREELEY  I Know a Man  The Rescue  Air: "The Love of a Woman"  For Friendship  For Love  Again  The World  ALLEN GINSBERG  from  Howl (I)  Sunflower Sutra  My Sad Self Wales Visitation  W. D. SNODGRASS  April Inventory  from  Heart's Needle (2, 6)  Mementos, 1  ALocked House  JAMES MERRILL  A Renewal  Voices from the Other World  Days of 1964  Willowware Cup  Lost in Translation  W. S. MERWIN  The Animals  Some Last Questions  The River of Bees  For the Anniversary of My Death  The Asians Dying  For a Coming Extinction  The Night of the Shirts  Bread  St Vincent's  A. R. AMMONS  He Held Radical Light  Gravelly Run  Corsons Inlet  Reflective  Terrain  The City Limits  JOHN ASHBERY  Glazunoviana  Soonest Mended  As One Put Drunk into the Packet-Boat  Pyrography  And Ut Pictura Poesis Is Her Name  Syringa  My Erotic Double  JAMES WRIGHT  At the Executed Murderer's Grave  Autumn Begins in Martins Ferry, Ohio  Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy's Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota  Beginning  ABlessing  In Response to a Rumor That the Oldest Whorehouse in Wheeling, West Virginia, Has Been Condemned  AWinter Daybreak Above Venice  GALWAY KINNELL  Vapor Trail Reflected in the Frog Pond  Last Songs  The Bear  After Making Love We Hear Footsteps  The Man Splitting Wood in the Daybreak  The Vow  The Man on the Hotel Room Bed  ANNE SEXTON  Her Kind  Music Swims Back to Me  The Truth the Dead Know  The Starry Night  With Mercy for the Greedy  Wanting to Die  The Room of My Life  PHILIP LEVINE  The Horse  They Feed They Lion  Belle Isle, 1949  You Can Have It  Rain Downriver  Sweet Will  IRVING FELDMAN  Family History  The Dream  from  All of Us Here  JOHN HOLLANDER  The Night Mirror  from  Powers of Thirteen (3, 29, 69, 82, 87, 130)  Swan and Shadow  The Mad Potter  RICHARD HOWARD  Venetian Interior, 1889  At the Monument to Pierre Louÿs  ADRIENNE RICH  Snapshots of a Daughter-in-Law  Planetarium  The Burning of Paper Instead of Children  Paula Becker to Clara Westhoff  For the Record  For an Album  GARY SNYDER  Mid-August at Sourdough Mountain Lookout  Riprap  Burning Island  The Bath  I Went into the Maverick Bar  Axe Handles  SYLVIA PLATH  The Colossus  The Hanging Man  Morning Song  Daddy  Fever 103°  Ariel  Lady Lazarus  Edge  Words  MARK STRAND  Keeping Things Whole  Coming to This  The Prediction  "The Dreadful Has Already Happened"  The Story of Our Lives  Where Are the Waters of Childhood?  CHARLES WRIGHT  Stone Canyon Nocturne  Spider Crystal Ascension  Clear Night  Homage to Paul Cézanne  The Other Side of the River  AUDRE LORDE  Coal  Movement Song  Afterimages  MARY OLIVER  Rain  When Death Comes  Whelks  Hawk  JAY WRIGHT  The Homecoming Singer  Benjamin Banneker Sends His Almanac to Thomas Jefferson  Journey to the Place of Ghost s  C. K. WILLIAMS  It Is This Way with Men  The Gas Station  Tar  Alzheimer's: The Wife  CHARLES SIMIC  Tapestry  My Shoes  Concerning My Neighbors, the Hittites  Watermelons  Eyes Fastened with Pins  Empire of Dreams  Prodigy  from  The World Doesn't End  MICHAEL S. HARPER  Dear John, Dear Coltrane  Grandfather  Nightmare Begins Responsibility  The Militance of a Photograph in the Passbook of a Bantu Under Detention  FRANK BIDART  Another Life  Happy Birthday  The Sacrifice  ROBERT PINSKY  Poem About People  Dying  The Hearts  Shirt  ROBERT HASS  Heroic Simile  Meditation at Lagunitas  Between the Wars  Misery and Splendor  AMY CLAMPITT  Beach Glass  Imago  Stacking the Straw  Medusa  DAVE SMITH Elegy in an Abandoned Boatyard  The Roundhouse Voices  Lake Drummond Dream  MARILYN HACKER  from  Taking Notice (7, 11, 14, 25)  Ballad of Ladies Lost and Found  Nights of 1964--66: The Old Reliable  WILLIAM MATTHEWS  Nabokov's Blues  Onions  107th and Amsterdam  Dire Cure  SHARON OLDS  You Kindly  The Promise  The Glass  The Feelings  LOUISE GLÜCK Messengers  The Drowned Children  The Garden  Palais des Arts  Mock Orange  Eros  SANDRA MCPHERSON  Black Soap  The Microscope in Winter  Streamers  MICHAEL PALMER  H  "or anything resembling it"  Erolog The White Notebook  ELLEN BRYANT VOIGT The Spire  The Lotus Flowers  Song and Story  Winter Field  KAY RYAN  Paired Things  Mirage Oases  ACat/A Future  The Old Cosmologists  That Will to Divest Drops in the Bucket  YUSEF KOMUNYAKAA  Providence  Camouflaging the Chimera  Facing It  Ode to the Maggot  Día de los Muertos  HEATHER MCHUGH  The Typewriter's the Kind  From 20,000 Feet Numberless Auto  EDWARD HIRSCH  Fast Break  AShort Lexicon of Torture in the Eighties  My Father's Back  JORIE GRAHAM  Over and Over Stitch San Sepolcro Orpheus and Eurydice Ebbtide RITA DOVE Adolescence-II Parsley Canary MARK DOTY  Broadway Brilliance A Display of Mackerel  Door to the River GJERTRUD SCHNACKENBERG The Paperweight  Signs Supernatural Love  HENRI COLE  Chiffon Morning  Peonies  You Come When I Call You Black Mane LI-YOUNG LEE This Hour and What Is Dead  Pillow One Heart  Dwelling CARL PHILLIPS The Compass No Kingdom  From the Devotions Revision SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY  Excerpted from The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Poetry by J. D. McClatchy All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.