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Editor of “Oxford Book of American Poetry” Discusses the Anthology

The editor of the newly revised "Oxford Book of American Poetry," David Lehman discusses his decision to include more African American poets and the disconnect between the creation and the consumption of poetry.

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    When Walt Whitman wrote his poem "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry" in 1856, he spoke directly to his readers, both in his time and in ours.

    DAVID LEHMAN, Editor, "Oxford Book of American Poetry": "I am with you, you men and women of a generation, or ever so many generations hence. Just as you feel when you look on the river and sky, so I felt."


    For David Lehman, the editor of the newly-revised "Oxford Book of American Poetry," Whitman shows both the timelessness and the freshness of American poetry.


    "Just as you are refresh'd by the gladness of the river and the bright flow, I was refresh'd."


    Lehman, himself a poet and teacher, says his revision, the first in 30 years, was a chance to update and look anew at the American canon; to see a line from Anne Bradstreet in the 17th century to Emily Dickinson in the 19th, Langston Hughes in the 20th, and Jorie Graham, born in 1950, the cut-off date for this volume, writing in our own time; to see new or little known names like Angelina Weld Grimke besides the famous ones like TS Eliot, even to shake up the mix by including lyrics from Bessie Smith and Bob Dylan.