THE CONCISE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF ENGLISH AND AMERICAN POETS AND POETRY by

THE CONCISE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF ENGLISH AND AMERICAN POETS AND POETRY

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The editors are American poetry notables-- Spender is a poet/critic and helps edit Encounter; Hall is a professor of English at the Univ. of Michigan and the 1955 winner of the Lamont Poetry Prize. Their book is announced as a ""complete and comprehensive volume on the poets, trends, techniques and styles that have influenced the development of English and American poetry"". The main alphabet contains individual biographies and analyses of the poets included and general topics. The contributions are initialed; at the back of the book is a section that lists the over 70 contributors and their qualifications. There are two indexes, the first covering the poets who are quoted in the main alphabet (a handy feature) and the second a cross-referenced, general index. There are 46 full page plates. About 20 of these are photo portraits of living poets (a rather camera-shy breed). The poets' biographies emphasize the nature of their artistic achievement, style and stature in the field. The biographical details are held to a minimum, and wherever possible, the poet's verse is quoted illustratively. All of these are commendable features but the fact remains that something labeled concise cannot be encyclopedic and the editors acknowledge this in their introduction. In the case of current American poets it is too concise, saying from very little to nothing at all. (Almost two thirds of the contributors are professors or teachers and the lengthy articles on 18th and 19th century poets at the expense of very short or missing articles on the contemporaries may reflect professorial hindsight over foresight. This is unfortunate from a reference standpoint, for it is on the younger poets (O'Hara, Ashberry, Ginsberg) that information is so scattered or lacking. As a quick reference item on the established poet, the book has value and will find a market in spite of its flaws.

Publisher: Hawthorn