Poetry, John Timberman Newcomb believes, has lost status in recent years. In the introduction to his new book, How Did Poetry Survive? The Making of Modern American Verse (University of Illinois Press), Newcomb argues that American poetry has been “segregat[ed] … from modern social experience” — with the result that poetry is hardly even considered “literature” anymore.
This isn’t the first time that American poetry’s star has waned. In How Did Poetry Survive?, Newcomb traces the genre’s changing fortunes at the turn of the 20th century, arguing that poets’ engagement with modern topics and “ordinary life” played a key role in their works’ return to widely acknowledged cultural relevance.
Newcomb, associate professor of English at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, believes that this history merits study not only for the value of the works that have been largely forgotten, but also for the light it sheds on…
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