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This comprehensive chronological anthology includes 58 essays on poetry by 53 poets. Starting with James Weldon Johnson and Robert Frost, the book offers diverse and often conflicting accounts of the nature and function of poetry. The collection includes rarely anthologized essays by Jack Spicer, Rhina Espaillat, Anne Stevenson, and Ron Silliman, as well as work by some of the finest younger critics in America, including William Logan, Alice Fulton, and Christian Wiman.
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Born in Los Angeles in 1950, Dana Gioia attended Stanford University and did graduate work at Harvard, where he studied with Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Fitzgerald. He left Harvard to attend Stanford Business School. For fifteen years he worked in New York for general Foods (eventually becoming a Vice President) while writing nights and weekends, In 1992 he became a full-time writer. Currently he lives in California. Gioia has published three books of poems, Daily Horoscope (1986), The Gods of Winter (1991), and Interrogations at Noon (2001), which won the American Book Award. He is also the author of Can Poetry Matter? (1992; reprinted 2002). He has edited a dozen anthologies of poetry and fiction. A prolific critic and reviewer, he is also a frequent commentator on American culture for BBC Radio. He recently completed Nosferatu (2001), an opera libretto for composer Alva Henderson.
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