Rough Cut: Poets & Poems for Modern American Poetry

  1. Whitman, "One's Self I Sing," "I Hear American Singing," "For You O Democracy," "*Crossing Brooklyn Ferry," "I Hear It Was Charged Against Me," "A Glimpse."
  2. Emily Dickinson, (There is a certain Slant of light), (I felt a Funeral, in my Brain), (After Great pain, a formal feeling comes), (I heard a Fly buzz--when I died), (My Life had stood--a Loaded Gun).
  3. Edwin Arlington Robinson, "The House on the Hill," "Richard Cory," "Mr. Flood's Party."
  4. Robert Frost, "Home Burial," "The Wood Pile," "Birches," "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening," "Nothing Gold Can Stay," "The Gift Outright."
  5. 5. Carl Sandburg, "Chicago," "Subway."
  6. Wallace Stevens, "Sea Surface Full of Clouds," "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird," "The Snow Man," "The Emperor of Ice Cream," "Sunday Morning," "The Idea of Order at Key West," "Of Modern Poetry," "The Plain Sense of Things," "Of Mere Being."
  7. William Carlos Williams, "The Young Housewife," "Portrait of a Lady," "Spring and All," "The Great Figure," "To Elsie," "The Red Wheelbarrow," "Young Sycamore," "This is Just to Say," "*To Daphne and Virginia."
  8. Ezra Pound, "A Pact," "In a Station of the Metro," "The River Merchant's Wife: A Letter," "*Hugh Selwyn Mauperly."
  9. Robinson Jeffers, "Shine, Perishing Republic," ""Hurt Hawks."
  10. Marianne Moore, "Poetry," "The Fish," "The Pangolin," "The Paper Nautilus."
  11. T.S. Eliot, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," "The Waste Land," "The Hollow Men."
  12. Genevieve Taggard, "Ode in Time of Crisis," Mill Town," "To the Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade."
  13. E.E. Cummings, "Buffalo Bill's," "Poem, or Beauty Hurts Mr. Vinal," "next to of course god america i," "i sing of Olaf glad and big."
  14. Kenneth Fearing, "Dirge," "Denouement."
  15. Langston Hughes, "Negro," "The Negro Speaks of Rivers," "The Weary Blues," "Justice," "Three Songs about Lynching," "Letter from Spain," "Harlem."
  16. Theodore Roethke, "I Knew a Woman," "*My Papa's Waltz."
  17. Elizabeth Bishop, "The Fish," "Filling Station," "In the Waiting Room," "One Art."
  18. Randall Jarrell, "The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner."
  19. John Berryman, Dream Songs: 1, 4, 14, 29, 40.
  20. Thomas McGrath,
  21. Robert Lowell, "Skunk Hour," "For the Union Dead."
  22. Frank O'Hara, "The Day Lady Died," "Why I Am Not a Painter."
  23. Robert Creeley, "After Lorca," "I Know a Man," "For Love," "America."
  24. A.R. Ammons, "Corsons Inlet."
  25. James Wright, "Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy's Farm," "A Blessing," "A Centenary Ode."
  26. John Ashbery, Syringa," "Daffy Duck in Hollywood," "Paradoxes and Oxymorons."
  27. Philip Levine, "Animals are Passing from Our Lives," "They Feed They Lion."
  28. Adrienne Rich, "Diving into the Wreck."
  29. Gary Snyder, "Riprap," "I Went into the Maverick Bar."
  30. Etheridge Knight, "Hardrock Returns from the Hospital for the Criminal Insane."
  31. Yusef Komunyakaa, "To Do Street," "Prisoners."
  32. Carolyn Forché, "The Colonel."
  33. Louise Erdrich, "Indian Boarding School: The Runaways."
  34. Sherman Alexie, "Indian Boy Love Song," "Evolution," "How to Write the Great American Indian Novel."
  35. Bob Dylan, "*Highway 61 Revisited," "*Ballad of a Thin Man."
__________________ *Not in Nelson's Modern American Poetry anthology.

Author: jd

Joseph Duemer is Professor of Literature Emeritus at Clarkson University in northern New York state. His most recent book of poems is Magical Thinking from Ohio State University Press. Since the mid-1990s he has spent a good deal of time in Vietnam, mostly Hanoi. He lives with his wife Carole & five terriers (four Jack Russells & one Patterdale) on the stony bank of the Raquette River in South Colton.

5 thoughts on “Rough Cut: Poets & Poems for Modern American Poetry

  1. this is a fine way to open the door and to spend a lifetime; a ‘livetime’

    passing through it

    because ‘it’ is a great reference:

    ‘so it was


    got so

    edward mycue

  2. Joe,

    I like your line-up, as far as it goes. But I think it amounts to an indefensible prejudice at this point in time not to include Zukovsky, Olson, Duncan and Spicer, perhaps instead of the worthy, but not quite as worthy, Robinson,Sandburg,Jeffers and Taggart. (Like those classical music stations that keep play Ravel’s “Bolero”.)

    Also, for my money, James Schyler’s “Hymn To Life,” though perhaps a little long compared to other things you’ve chosen, strikes me as one of the most human and remarkable of all our 20th century poems, and I strongly recommend its inclusion.

    Of all these poems it’s one I never tire of reading, and never come away from without feeling exhilarated and warmed.

    Good luck with your class!

  3. Peter, points taken. I’ve added Ginsburg, by the way, whom I didn’t mean to leave out in the first place. Part of the issue, for me, is what’s in Nelson’s anthology; beyond that, I don’t get Zukovsky — never have. Spicer & Duncan might be good & I might find a way to shoehorn them in somehow, though they are not in the anthology. I’m teaching a couple of Spicer poems in my Lit of American Popular Music class.

    Olson is so hard to excerpt that given the nature of the class, he got cut. Sandburg is there for socio-political reasons & I suppose you could say the same for Taggart. I lean toward the political & away from the “aesthetic,” thus my cutting of Zuk. As for Robinson, I think he is the greatest American minor poet of the 20th century — his poems give me so much pleasure I couldn’t imagine leaving him out.

  4. there’s a poet in sparks, nevada some 30+ years my junior who i listen to on all matters where i sense slippage. i don’t agree with her all the time and she and i are going off in different directions, but
    i trust her manner of looking. she probably looks at all of this in a very different manner. i’m often surprised, delighted even to achieve a newness and find something where i expected nothing. (she can seem a bit brutal to an old monster like me. but i can take it. and look forward to the bracing discoveries she cracks the door onto.) she is and her name is helen and she is a poet who has excited my attention for a long time. she is also a singer and composer and a commentator on music. edward mycue

  5. Joe,

    Re your cutting of Zuk, his Catullus 53:

    Risible nice go when from mud a crony
    quickly confirms the case against Vatinius
    discriminating Calvus made explicit —
    all admiration hikes its hands in tolling,
    “Loving Gods, that tiny man’s dissertation!”

    Zuk was the greatest American musician in words of the XXth century. It is as though you deprive yourself of Bartok or Cezanne. Please press on.

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