From Publishers Weekly
This is the definitive anthology to date of canonical poets reading short selections of their own work. Though some of the audio here has been widely available for decades, it is certainly exciting to hear Tennyson, Browning, Yeats, Eliot and Co. reading their work and to read easily along in the provided text indeed, a huge first printing of 100,000 is riding on that excitement. Former Poetry Society of America executive director Paschen and National Public Radio reporter Mosby have assembled a very high-wattage team of living poets to write short essays on the historic ones whose voices we hear. The real standouts are about the less familiar of the latter: Rita Dove on the superb modernist Melvin B. Tolson; Forrest Gander on the magisterial Laura (Riding) Jackson; Michael Palmer on San Francisco Renaissance man Robert Duncan; Elizabeth Alexander on Etheridge Knight. T0 hear the distinctive accents and pauses of these poets 42 here in all, including the likes of Gertrude Stein and Robert Lowell remains truly wonderful. Paschen and Mosby's biographical notes can veer into shorthand platitude, but the initiated will be curious as to how poets such as Jorie Graham and Charles Bernstein approach Elizabeth Bishop and Ezra Pound respectively (though the essays are by design cursory). At the very least, those getting their first dose of poetry will find lots of names for further investigation. Charles Osgood introduces each poet's specific selections on the discs, which are complemented by further poems from each poet in the text. All told, while there will be quibbles about missing poets, this set evinces care, and will displace its patchwork of rivals for the foreseeable future. (Oct.)Forecast: Though it's being published in October, look for this set to be a huge holiday item and to begin showing up in public libraries almost immediately. For others, Tennyson's previously unavailable reading of "The Charge of the Light Brigade" and Langston Hughes's of "The Negro Speaks of Rivers" will be worth the price of admission on their own.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
Adult/High School-A cornucopia of pleasurable reading and listening that features the works of 42 poets. This anthology's high accessibility and its clean and unusual layout ensure its usefulness in most collections. Organized chronologically by the poets' dates of birth, followed by their pictures, a short introduction to their lives, a critical essay by a poet/essayist, some rarely seen handwritten notes, and several of their important poems, this offering would be enough to satisfy most readers. However, the package also includes three CDs of the poets' interpretative readings of these poems. These recordings reflect the pitch, intonation, and age of the poet at the time of the recording such as Robert Frost's gravelly voice, a young Sylvia Plath, or Dylan Thomas's singing cadences. The essays by such writers as Robert Pinsky and Anthony Hecht will be of particular value to teachers introducing literary criticism because their writing is so clean and uncluttered. In addition to the CDs, the poets' notes heighten the sense of the creative process. For example, Dr. William Carlos Williams used prescription pads to scrawl lines as the words came to him. These items punctuate the pages, letting readers know that poetry comes slowly, after numerous cross outs and revisions. The reason for omissions of such great poets as Emily Dickinson is obvious-this collection focuses only on poets whose recordings are available. A must for poetry lovers.
Margaret Nolan, W. T. Woodson High School, Fairfax, VA
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.