There are just a ton of poetry anthologies out there in the world (over fifty on my own bookshelf alone). I’ve been thinking about anthologies of late, no doubt due directly to the recent controversy about Rita Dove’s choices (and omissions) for The Penguin Anthology of 20th Century Poetry and to American Alphabets (David Walker’s wonderful new anthology out of Oberlin College Press, offering robust selections from 25 poets) which I was given for Christmas.
Without taking sides on the Penguin issue, since I have not yet read the anthology itself but only read articles about it online, I wonder if part of the problem is less Dove’s choices and more just the title — if it were An Anthology of 20th Century instead of The (and it can’t be The without Plath and Ginsberg — those two omissions due to permissions issues and budget limitations) would there be so much vitriol? If it were just Dove’s choices for An anthology, I suspect the discussion about it would be more fun.
Well, probably not, Continue reading