PN Review Print and Online Poetry Magazine
News and Notes
Digital Access to PN Review
Access the latest issues, plus back issues of PN Review with Exact Editions For PN Review subscribers: to access the PN Review digital archive via the Exact Editions app Exactly or the Exact Editions website, you will first need to know your PN Review ID number. read more
PN Review Prize winners announced
Carcanet Press and PN Review are delighted to announce the winners of the first ever PN Review Prize. read more
Most Read... Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
Drew MilneTom Raworth’s Writing
‘present past improved’: Tom Raworth’s Writing

(PN Review 236)
Alejandro Fernandez-OsorioPomace (trans. James Womack)
(PN Review 236)
Kei MillerIn the Shadow of Derek Walcott
1930–2017

(PN Review 235)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Kate BinghamPuddle
(PN Review 236)
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
Gratis Ad 1
Gratis Ad 2
Next Issue CELEBRATING JOHN ASHBERY Contributors include Mark Ford, Marina Warner, Jeremy Over, Theophilus Kwek, Sam Riviere, Luke Kennard, Philip Terry,Agnes Lehoczky, Emily Critchley, Oli Hazard and others Miles Champion The Gold Standard Rebecca Watts The Cult of the Noble Amateur Marina Tsvetaeva ‘My desire has the features of a woman’: Two Letters translated by Christopher Whyte Iain Bamforth Black and White

This review is taken from PN Review 172, Volume 33 Number 2, November - December 2006.

WITHOUT INTRODUCTION CHARLES ALTIERI, The Art of Twentieth-Century American Poetry: Modernism and After (Blackwell) £ 19.99

Charles Altieri's The Art of Twentieth-Century American Poetry is the latest addition to Blackwell's 'Introductions to Literature' series. Although Altieri's is an established voice, he is circumspect about the status of his introduction and its manner of approach (the word 'introduction' is wryly absent from the book's title). Altieri is circumspect for important reasons. He acknowledges two other significant Blackwell titles (Marjorie Perloff's 21st Century Modernism: The New Poetics and Christopher MacGowan's Twentieth-Century American Poetry), admiring Perloff's approach of tracing a specific line from Eliot's 'Prufrock' to the Language Poets and praising MacGowan's powers of condensation, his 'capsule accounts of forty-eight poetic careers' over some 'twenty-five volumes'.

But Altieri is not feigning critical modesty: he is refreshingly honest in declaring indebtedness to other scholars because his scrutiny of their work has enabled him to consider what an introduction should be. His introductory chapter is entitled 'Introduction: An Overview'; as though it were Altieri's ploy to give a dress-rehearsal for what one kind of introduction to twentieth-century American poetry might be. Like Stephen Dedalus he asks 'Where do you begin in this?' and is wary of how an 'introductory book' must necessarily be 'superseded by the reader's developing ability to tell more complex stories'.

Fortunately, Altieri needs no Leopold Bloom and does not suffer any postmodernist irony about beginnings. His enthusi asm alone counters self-doubt; a sense of exhilaration for poetry that characterises all his critical work, but which should prove infectious for this book's audience. ...


Searching, please wait... animated waiting image