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American Hybrid: A Norton Anthology of New Poetry Paperback – March 30, 2009

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Product Details

  • Series: Norton Anthology
  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 Original edition (March 30, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393333752
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393333756
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 0.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #129,962 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In their introductions, editors Swensen and St. John, both accomplished and forward-thinking poets, outline the contention that spurred this anthology: for a long time, poetry has been divided, or has divided itself, into two basic camps, traditional and experimental. In contemporary American poetry, the editors argue, and the poets collected here demonstrate, these distinctions no longer make sense, as poets now draw equally from both traditions, often in the same poem. Hence these generous selections from 73 poets who seek to blend, in varying degrees, the straightforward clarity and formal rigor of the long poetic tradition with the disjunction, self-consciousness and obscurity of experimental poetics. Some names will be familiar to the casual reader of American poetry (John Ashbery, Jorie Graham, Robert Hass); some are well known in poetry circles (Brenda Hillman, D.A. Powell, Donald Revell); and others are totally new to this kind of anthology, such as the amazing and subtle Martha Ronk (When it is raining it is raining for all time then it isn't) and Bin Ramke, a master of the commingling of old and new. For serious readers of poetry, novices looking for a way in to what's new, and, perhaps especially, for poetry professors, this is a must-have book. (Mar.)
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About the Author

David St. John has published nine collections of poetry, including The Face. He teaches at the University of Southern California and lives in Venice, California.

Cole Swensen's most recent collection is The Glass Age. She teaches at the University of Iowa's Writer's Workshop and lives in Iowa City, Iowa.

Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Music and Literature Garden on April 8, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I seek the following qualities in a poetry anthology:

1. Introduces me to some poets and poems I have never read before: this anthology has a number of poets whose names I vaguely know but about whose work I know little to nothing. Since they are alongside other poets I do know better and already like, it gives me confidence in the quality of the work that the editors have chosen.
2. The anthology contains expository writing commenting on the place of the poems within the greater literary context: yes! There are two excellent essays by the editors at the beginning of the book.
3. Biographical information about each poet appears somewhere in the book: in fact, the bios introduce each poet's section of work, which is much better than having to constantly flip to an appendix.
4. The book is substantial but not so large that it won't fit in my handbag: this size is perfect. It's much smaller than those Norton anthologies I had to buy for undergrad English classes.

A previous reviewer mentioned that these poems are difficult and not to her taste. I agree that the poems are difficult. Fortunately, difficult poems are exactly my taste. This makes returning to the work again and again much more rewarding for me.
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29 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Oscar Bermeo on September 23, 2009
Format: Paperback
I only got through 2/3 of the book (has to go back to my local library) but what I did read was very mixed. My chief concern with this anthology is how it breaks down the tensions in United States Poetry to a "fundamental division" between narrative and experimental texts when all that is explored in this volume is the negotiation between variations in U.S. English non-linear narrative in contemporary academic poetry without putting any focus on hybrid texts outside of academia and/or explore the boundaries of English.

Many of the selections from the poets really only hint at the possibility of hybrid text as the samples rarely show a collision of the two coming together with only a few poets actually able to balance plain language and disrupted text in a single poem or even a few pages. Some of the poets who do show the best of all worlds in this collection include Nathaniel Mackey, Michael Palmer, John Yau and Harryette Mullen.

With a shaky premise to begin with (poetry has always benefited from a collision between various camps, not just a late 20th century argument between academics), a very loose definition of "academic poetry" (probably included because almost every poet is in academia), and a mandate that hybrid poetry can lead us back to a "purer sense of language" and help in the "renaming of the world" (I thought that was the job of all poetry), this collection doesn't offer a plurality of voices but instead seeks to limit the definitions of what new poetry can be.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
We're using this book in my writing group for the next year. Finding it very useful as a way to open new pathways in our writing poetry.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Isabel Archer on January 9, 2011
Format: Paperback
I was studying abroad in England, missing America a little bit, and I picked this up. Not only did it satisfy my homesickness, it made me aware of poets I had never heard of. I'm in undergraduate, young, and admittedly only mildly literate (on a good day) and trying to rectify said illiteracy. This book has been a great help. The content is challenging and fantastic, if you're willing to dive in without feeling like you understand completely what's going on around you. And rewarding to re-read.
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More About the Author

Ralph Angel's latest collection, Your Moon, was awarded the 2013 Green Rose Poetry Prize. Exceptions and Melancholies: Poems 1986-2006 received the 2007 PEN USA Poetry Award, and his Neither World won the James Laughlin Award of The Academy of American Poets. In addition to five books of poetry, he also has published an award-winning translation of the Federico García Lorca collection, Poema del cante jondo / Poem of the Deep Song. Angel is the recipient of numerous honors, including a gift from the Elgin Cox Trust, a Pushcart Prize, a Gertrude Stein Award, the Willis Barnstone Poetry Translation Prize, a Fulbright Foundation fellowship and the Bess Hokin Award of the Modern Poetry Association. He lives in Los Angeles, and is Edith R. White Distinguished Professor at the University of Redlands, and a member of the MFA in Writing faculty at Vermont College of Fine Arts.

For Ralph Angel's website, visit

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