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Great American Prose Poems: From Poe to the Present Paperback – April 21, 2003

4.6 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

David Lehman, series editor of The Best American Poetry, is also the editor of The Oxford Book of American Poetry. His books of poetry include New and Selected Poems, When a Woman Loves a Man, and The Daily Mirror. He teaches in the New School graduate writing program and lives in New York City and Ithaca, New York.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner (April 21, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743243501
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743243506
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #109,694 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
A canny introduction ushers the reader into this hybrid art form. The examples illuminate the form's history and variety. Most of the prose poems are superb; only a few disappoint. And readers previously unfamiliar with the genre (like myself) will likely be introduced to established but little-known writers of tremendous depth, beauty and originality, like Lyn Hejinian and Fanny Howe. I highly recommend this collection.
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Format: Paperback
David Lehman's 'Great American Prose Poems' gives an interesting and insightful look into the world of the questionable - yet undeniably fascinating - genre of prose poetry. First providing the reader with an engaging introduction on the origins and essentials of prose poetry, Lehman proceeds to include a good basic range of authors. Gertrude Stein has a particularly impressive contribution, as do several others. This is a thought-provoking and highly recommended read for anyone interested in learning about the basics of prose poetry -- my only real annoyance was the absence of Leonard Cohen: while he is not American, he is Canadian, like several others featured in Lehman's collection, and (as an example) his work 'How to Speak Poetry' is utterly classic.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Love this book! I've worked with poetry students for many years and placed my own poems with traditional publishers for a decade or so beyond that, but I just never got into prose poetry. When I finally decided to study the genre seriously, this book happened to arrive first with its luscious lines giving insight into the quality, subject matter, and poetic characteristics of prose poems written in America, from Poe (actually Emerson, whose name didn't contribute to the alliterative P's going in the title) to the present day.

Beginning with David Lehman's learned but reader-friendly Introduction, the book provides an overview of the form, which nicely prepared me to understand or, at least, better appreciate the prose poems I was about to read. As it turned out though, the poetry selected for this anthology are highly accessible on their own.

I've since read more collections and explanations of prose poetry, some of which I'll comment on and recommend in subsequent reviews for Amazon. This edition, however, is my top choice for a prose poem anthology and will be most likely to get dog-eared as I re-read the lively poems again and again.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I got this book promptly from Amazon promptly, in time for a class I'm taking in prose poetry. Lehman writes a wonderful preface to the books he edits. This is a difficult poetic form for me, and his intro illuminated what I was reading. Good reference and index, short bio of each poet. For learning purposes, I would have liked to have some of this information with the poems as individual prefaces to each author's work. That would mean less leafing through the text for vital information. However, this is not solely a teaching text and the book's format allows the poems to stand alone and speak for themselves. I am at a stage, though, where a little guidance allows me deeper into the meaning of what I am reading.
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Format: Paperback
I had this is a text book in one of my advanced poetry writing classes and I loved it. It's a great introduction to, or review of, prose poetry and a book I still visit often. It gives you a few from each notable writer so you get a full sampling of their individual styles and techniques. This book teaches (and inspires) prose poetry in a way that lecture can't.
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Format: Paperback
Lydia Davis has put prose poems on the map, perversely, by calling them stories. This is the map. Skip the 'Poe to WW2' bit (a mere 25 pages) to p54 and you've got 250+ pages of concentrated eccentricity, securely (even snugly) in the tradition of the European avant-garde (Kafka lives!) and 60s menfoutisme (wackiness) yet gleamingly, gloriously contemporary. The titles alone are, well, poetry. I'm minded of the effect abstract impressionism had on the art scene - or my first sight of Zap comics. The editor has done his work with love. Any hope of an update?
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Lehman's collection of prose poems in this volume is outstanding. He covers a wide expanse of authors, beginning with Poe and Emerson and ending with young poets working today. The selection of poems gives the reader an excellent sense for how this genre/form of poetry has evolved from its very early, experimental days in the late 19th century as 'lyric prose' to its more complex and integrated (almost sui generis) incarnation today. If you find prose poetry, or flash fiction, to be an interesting form of writing, I would definitely recommend this book. I am a college English professor, and I am strongly considering proposing a course on prose poetry in the near future that will take this collection as its central text. The only slightly negative thing I have to say about the book is the fact that Lehman's introductory essay, which is written with his usual insight and clarity (those familiar with the Best American Poetry anthologies for which he is the series editor will know what I'm talking about here), is just not a deep enough study of the form of prose poetry. --As an academic, I am naturally holding Lehman to a higher standard than other readers in terms of his theorizing, and the theoretical cross-pollination that prose poems give rise to is something that interests me (again, academically) a great deal. Even though he gives a good historical accounting of how prose poetry arose as a viable poetic form, the central questions of how we differentiate prose poems from other, non-prose poems and whether or not the prose form of a poem affects how a poem means what it means, are dealt with only cursorily. For those who can and will enjoy these poems non-academically (!), this is pretty much not a concern at all. Dive in and relish them.
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