A groundbreaking collection explores contemporary American poetry’s relation to social critique and the public sphere

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The News from Poems examines a subgenre of recent American poetry that closely engages with contemporary political and social issues. This “engaged” poetry features a range of aesthetics and focuses on public topics from climate change, to the aftermath of recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, to the increasing corporatization of U.S. culture.

The News from Poems brings together newly commissioned essays by eminent poets and scholars of poetry and serves as a companion volume to an earlier anthology of engaged poetry compiled by the editors. Essays by Bob Perelman, Steven Gould Axelrod, Tony Hoagland, Eleanor Wilner, and others reveal how recent poetry has redefined our ideas of politics, authorship, identity, and poetics.

The volume showcases the diversity of contemporary American poetry, discussing mainstream and experimental poets, including some whose work has sparked significant controversy. These and other poets of our time, the volume suggests, are engaged not only with public events and topics but also with new ways of imagining subjectivity, otherness, and poetry itself. 

Jeffrey Gray is a Professor of English at Seton Hall University. He is coeditor (with Ann Keniston) of The New American Poetry of Engagement: A 21st-Century Anthology and author of Mastery's End: Travel and Postwar American Poetry.

Ann Keniston is a Professor of English at the University of Nevada–Reno. She is author of Ghostly Figures: Memory and Belatedness in Postwar American Poetry.

“As the 21st century proceeds, in the current context of environmental catastrophe and constant war, American poetry, this book argues, is beginning to work through and, perhaps, even beyond its postmodern legacy towards a new sort of political poetry, a poetry ‘of engagement.’ The essays collected here explore tendencies such as documentary poetics and ecopoetics, focusing on writers as different as Frank Bidart, Kenneth Goldsmith, and Claudia Rankine. The poets discussed here don't witness atrocities and report back. There is no longer any ‘back’ to report to. Rather they are fully ‘embedded,’ inevitably complicit participants in an unstable and increasingly toxic global environment. Taken together, these lively, various, well-chosen essays may begin to show us the outline of something new.”
—Rae Armantrout, University of California, San Diego

“This volume will be one of the foremost critical texts on contemporary poetry, and it will be cited by scholars in many different fields of the humanities and social sciences for years to come.”
—David Ben-Merre, Buffalo State University

“A refreshing guide for those trying to understand 21st century poetry—where it has come [and] how it has grappled with recent history in a way that seems quite different from past responses to traumatic history. This will be a significant contribution to critical studies of contemporary poetry.”—Susan McCabe, University of Southern California