Firsts

100 Years of Yale Younger Poets

Edited by Carl Phillips

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October 22, 2019
440 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/4
ISBN: 9780300243178
Hardcover

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A masterfully curated collection, drawn from a century of works in the acclaimed Yale Series of Younger Poets
 
The Yale Younger Poets prize is the oldest annual literary award in the United States. Its winners include some of the most influential voices in American poetry, including Adrienne Rich, John Ashbery, Margaret Walker, Carolyn Forché, and Robert Hass.
 
In celebration of the prize’s centennial, this collection presents three selections from each Younger Poets volume. It serves as both a testament to the enduring power and significance of poetic expression and an exploration of the ways poetry has evolved over the past century. In addition to judiciously assembling this wide-ranging anthology, Carl Phillips provides an introduction to the history and impact of the Yale Younger Poets prize and its winners in the wider context of American poetry, including the evolving roles of race, gender, and sexual orientation.

Carl Phillips is professor of English at Washington University in St. Louis and has served as judge of the Yale Series of Younger Poets since 2010. His own books of poetry include Wild Is the Wind and Pale Colors in a Tall Field.

"In the annals of publishing there is surely no comparable record of hospitality to poets, young or old.”—The New York Times

"Like many of its disciples, I find myself both devoted to poetry itself and anthropologically fascinated by its many histories. Firsts: 100 Years of Yale Younger Poets is a feast in both regards. Here are hundreds of expertly, often surprisingly selected poems—Phillips’s curation is defiantly unbeholden to what’s already been heavily anthologized. The real bounty, though, is the zoomed-out look at the evolution of American poetry, which the Yale prize, as the oldest in the United States, is uniquely capable of providing. The greater homogeneity—racial, sexual, aesthetic—of the prize’s early days gives a sense of just how revolutionary Margaret Walker’s For My People must have been in 1941, Olga Broumas’s Beginning with O in 1976, Fady Joudah’s The Earth in the Attic in 2007, Eduardo C. Corral’s Slow Lightning in 2011. Phillips writes: “Racial diversity often coincides with prosodic diversity,” and in Firsts we actually see it happening—an emerging contemporary poetic moment unified only by its infinite aesthetic and human range. That is the miracle of this collection, what makes it indispensible."—Kaveh Akbar, author of Pilgrim Bell

"This poetry anthology, with its century of examples, offers a cultural history of taste and desire. Decade after evolving decade, the triumphs and failures of these ambitious young American poets have embodied unresolved national aspirations. Tectonic energies of privilege and democracy, the unique individual and the collective mass, notions of 'high' and 'low,' inside and out, past and present, create a geological record in lyrical form: the Yale Series of Younger Poets."—Robert Pinsky
Westerly

Will Schutt; Foreword by Carl Phillips

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Eruv

Eryn Green; Foreword by Carl Phillips

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Blue Yodel

Ansel Elkins; Foreword by Carl Phillips

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The Destroyer in the Glass

Noah Warren; Foreword by Carl Phillips

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Simulacra

Airea D. Matthews; Foreword by Carl Phillips

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We Play a Game

Duy Doan; Foreword by Carl Phillips

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Yale Series of Younger Poets
Hermit with Landscape

Daniel Hall; Foreword by James Merrill

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Out of the Woods

Thomas Bolt; Foreword by James Merrill

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Picture Bride

Cathy Song; Foreword by Richard Hugo

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Natural Histories

Leslie Ullman; Foreword by Richard Hugo

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