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Jordan Clark
Jordan Clark

Library Of America Twentieth Century Poetry

In the years between the beginning of the twentieth century and the end of World War II, American poetry was transformed, producing a body of work whose influence was felt throughout the world. Now for the first time the landmark two-volume Library of America anthology of twentieth-century poetry through the post-War years restores that era in all its astonishing beauty and explosive energy.

library of america twentieth century poetry

Almost 40 years ago, at the National Poetry Festival in Washington, Randall Jarrell surveyed 50 years of our poetry, from roughly 1910 on. His prefatory claim was that after some decades at the end of the last century in which not much good poetry got written, no one would have predicted that ''in the next 50 years American poetry would be the best and most influential in the English language,'' shifting ''the whole center of gravity of poetry in English . . . west of England.'' To go no farther than a list of eight poets from those years -- Frost, Stevens, Williams, Pound, Moore, Eliot, Crane, Bishop -- is to have Jarrell's judgment inescapably enforced. ''Pure products of America'' (in a happier sense than William Carlos Williams meant the phrase), they have been handsomely given their place in these two volumes.

Twentieth Century American Poetry is a collection of poetry written by the most important and influential American poets of the 20th century. It includes 50,000 poems drawn from 750 volumes by over 300 poets.

Major movements of the century are represented, including the Black Mountain school of Charles Olson and Robert Duncan, the Deep Image poetry of Robert Bly and James Wright, underground literature by the Beat poets, the influential feminist works of Adrienne Rich, and the works by the confessional poets. Many contemporary writers of the 1980s and 1990s are also included, such as Sharon Olds, Louise Glück, Joy Harjo and Thomas Lynch.

Winner of the 1938 Pulitzer Prize, Our Town is among the most-performed plays of the twentieth century. Those who see it relate immediately to its universal themes of the importance of everyday occurrences, relationships among friends and family, and an appreciation of the brevity of life.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is the account of a girl growing up in the tenements of turn-of-the-twentieth-century Brooklyn. An early socially conscious novel, the book examines poverty, alcoholism, gender roles, loss of innocence, and the struggle to live the American Dream in an inner city neighborhood of Irish American immigrants. The book was enormously popular and became a popular film directed by Elia Kazan.

Randall (1914-2000) is as well-known for publishing some of the greatest African-American poets of the twentieth century as he is for writing poetry himself. As the founder of Broadside Press in 1965, he would go on to publish Audre Lorde, Gwendolyn Brooks, and many other notable writers of the day.

The "Library of Southern Literature" includes a wide range of literary works of the American South published before 1924. This collection was originally based on Dr. Robert Bain's bibliography of the hundred most important southern literary works and continues to expand under the guidance of scholarly advisors Dr. Joseph M. Flora and Dr. William L. Andrews. This collection begins with some of the earliest texts about America written by British discoverers that set the foundation for American letters and traces the development of southern literature through to the beginning of the twentieth century.

The department supports students in all fields of literary and cultural studies from the Medieval to the contemporary. We have particular strengths in the early modern period, African-American literature, postcolonial literature and theory, disability studies, nineteenth- and twentieth-century literature of the United States, digital humanities, modern poetry and poetics, and Irish literature.

Graduate students can draw on extensive archival collections in Woodruff Library and the Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library in the fields of Irish and African American literature, as well as the renowned Danowski Collection of twentieth-century poetry.

The Latin American Library is the repository of nearly 300 collections and collection series of manuscripts, dating from the early sixteenth-century to the present day. In all, the library holds over 4,350 linear feet of manuscripts.

Throughout the nineteenth century, literature was a domain of creative expression for African Americans and a vehicle for communicating important social and political ideas. During the early decades of the twentieth century, the country witnessed a genuine flowering of African American literary activity. This section of the exhibition features works of important writers from the very early part of the twentieth century, who would prove influential in the decades that followed.

Special Collections houses the private collection of Dr. Otto Lehman, rare book librarian and faculty member at the Hebrew Union College. Among other treasures, Dr. Lehman acquired copies of volumes of the Babylonian Talmud and the Sec