1. These will be subsequently cited in the text as DA, EW, PH, and DM.
2. I put "younger" in quotes because both editors understand that there are "older" (in years) but still beginner poets who belong in these groupings.
3. Strictly speaking, Volume 1 of the Oblek anthology is called Presentation and is edited by Gizzi and McGrath; Volume 2, Technique, by Gizzi and Spahr. Volume 1 is devoted to poems, but Volume 2 is not all critical prose; it too includes poem-manifestos, and so on.
4. The Grove Press had, by 1960, a reputation as an avant-garde (e.g., Samuel Beckett) and underground (e.g. Henry Miller, William Burroughs) publisher that brought out primarily foreign novels (the nouveau roman of Robbe-Grillet, Sarraute, Butor, etc.) and plays (Marguerite Duras), as well as "unpublishable" avant-garde works. But they had not undertaken to represent American poets until Allen put out his anthology.
5. See my "Charles Olson and the 'Inferior Predecessors': Projective Verse Revisited," ELH, 40 (197 3): 285-306.
6. Donald Allen has told me in conversation that this was the case. The anthology is subsequently cited as GB.
7. The fifteen eliminated are Helen Adam, Ebbe Borregaard, Bruce Boyd, Ray Bremser, James Broughton, Paul Carroll, Kirby Doyle, Richard Duerden, Edward Field, Madeline Gleason, Philip Lamantia, Edward Marshall, Peter Orlovsky, Stuart Z. Perkoff, Gilbert Sorrentino.
8. In the American Tree, p. xv. Subsequently cited as IAT.
9. John Yau, "Neither Us nor Them," American Poetry Review, 23, no. 2 (March/April 1994): 45-54. Subsequently cited as APR.
10. It is interesting that Jed Rasula, discussing the Weinberger anthology in an essay published in 1995 ("The Empire's New Clothes: Anthologizing American Poetry in the 1990s," American Literary History, 7, no. 2 [Summer 1995]: 261-283), but evidently written before 1993, when Hoover and Messerli, not to mention Gizzi and Ganick brought out their volumes, holds up Weinberger as the voice crying in the wilderness, poised against the philistine others, especially J. D. McClatchy's Vintage Book of Contemporary American Poetry, (New York: Random House,1990). Rasula admits that Weinberger "does not . . . address the issue of cultural imperialism" (p. 273), but, he suggests, if the choice is between Innovators and Outsiders and McClatchy's Vintage Book, Weinberger's cultural "blindness" is regarded as a minor fault.
There is a cautionary tale here: we must beware making large generalizations about such matters as the state of poetry in late twentieth-century consumer culture for, before we know it, the situation we describe just may have changed. So it is that between the writing of Rasula's essay and its publication two or three years later, language poetry and related radical poetries, long poised on the brink of recognition, suddenly took off. Which is not to say that the mainstream poetry scene Rasula describes isn't still the dominant one.
11. The Norton Anthology of American Literature, Third Edition, Volume 2, ed Nina Baym et. al. (New York: Norton, 1989). The editors responsible for the poetry sections ae David Kalstone and William H. Pritchard.
12. In a review of Paul Hoover's Norton Anthology of Postmodern Poetry for The New Criterion, 13 (June 1995): 68-78, John Haines dismisses Olson as a poet of "formlessness," "posturing," and "self-promotion," whose "oddities of phrasing," and "straining after effect," are just so much "gibberish" (p. 70). Granted that The New Criterion represents the acme of reactionary discourse on poetry, my point is that there was no parallel in the 1950s and 60s. There were, of course, reactionary journals then as now, but although, say, Williams may have been dismissed as rather negligible in these journals, he was not dismissed, as Haines declares Olson to be, unfit for inclusion in a comparable anthology.
13. Modern Poems, A Norton Introduction, Second Edition, ed. Richard Ellmann and Robert O'Clair (New York: Norton, 1989).
14. The omission suggests to me that Messerli is adhering to his own very particular language poetics more rigorously than he cares to admit in his introduction. Evidently, he for one does see that Levertov's is hardly the poetics of the countercurrent it has been taken to be..
15. William Carlos Williams to Denise Levertov, Feb. 11, 1957, Williams Collection, Beinecke Library, Yale University, cited in James E. B. Breslin (ed.), "Introduction," Something to Say: William Carlos Williams on Younger Poets (New York: New Directions, 1985), p. 30. Subsequently cited in the text as JEBB.
16. Denise Levertov, "The Innocent," Collected Earlier Poems 1940-1960 (New York, 1979), p. 31.
17. James Laughlin explained this to me in conversation. Levertov is one of a small number of New Directions authors who has this privilege.
18. A. R. Ammons, Collected Poems 1951-1971 (New York: Norton, 1972), p. 57. Subsequently cited as ARA.
19. In A Map of Misreading (New York: Oxford, 1965), Bloom makes a central distinction between "strong poets," of whom Stevens is the most important twentieth-century exemplar (and whose heirs Ammons and Ashbery are) and "major innovators" like Pound and Williams, "who may never touch strength at all" (p. 9).
20. From the Other Side of the Century includes five Canadian poets : David Bromige, Nicole Brossard, Christopher Dewdney, Steve McCaffery, and bp nichol. In the case of Hoover's Postmodern American Poetry, the decision not to include Canadian poets was evidently the publisher's.
21. Exact Change Yearbook No. 1: 1995, ed Peter Gizzi (Boston: Exact Change, Manchester: Carcanet, 1995). Subsequently cited as EC.
22. The CD is disappointing, there being no explanation of the eclectic mix of poets represented, many of whom (e.g., Alice Notley, Kenward Elmslie) are not in the book at all and some, like the Jack Spicer "Imaginary Elegies" (1957), and John Ashbery's "'They Dream Only of America'" (1962), stemming from earlier decades. One could argue that the aim here, as in the book, is to produce telling juxtapositions, but in practice, the sequence from Michael Palmer to Ted Berrigan creates more confusion than insight.
23. Ming-Quian Ma, a Chinese doctoral candidate at Stanford, who has published essays on Carl Rakosi, George Oppen, Susan Howe, and Lyn Hejinian, and who is working on further translations of the "Original" poets with Jeff Twitchell, tells me that in the original, the poems in question are much more non-syntactic and disjunctive than in these translations.