This is the first major anthology of Irish American poetry. It breaks new ground in the field of Irish American literary scholarship by collecting for the first time the work of over two hundred Irish American poets, as well as other American poets whose work enjoins Irish American themes.
What does it mean to be an Irish American poet? The Book of Irish American Poetry answers this question by drawing together the best and most representative poetry by Irish Americans and about Irish America that has been written over the past three hundred years. The question is not merely rhetorical, claims Daniel Tobin in the introduction, for it raises the issue of a certain kind of imaginative identity that has rarely, if ever, been adequately explored. This anthology brings together exemplary poetry of the “populist period” of Irish American verse (in particular the work of poets such as John Boyle O'Reilly), with the work of those Irish Americans who have made an indelible imprint on American poetry: Robinson Jeffers, Marianne Moore, Louise Bogan, John Berryman, Thomas McGrath, John Montague, Robert Creeley, Frank O'Hara, Ted Berrigan, Charles Olson, Galway Kinnell, X. J. Kennedy, and Alan Dugan, among others. Finally, the anthology includes distinctive poems by contemporary Irish Americans whose work is most likely to stand the test of time: poets such as Tess Gallagher, Alice Fulton, Brendan Galvin, Marie Howe, Susan Howe, Billy Collins, Michael Ryan, Richard Kenney, and Brigit Pegeen Kelly. The poems in this collection cut across the broad spectrum of American poetry and place Irish Americans within every notable school of American poetry, from modernism to confessionalism and the Beats, from formalism to imagism, and from projectivism to the New York School and Language poets.
The Book of Irish American Poetry recovers many poets who have been forgotten and places already notable figures in American poetry within the context of a distinctively Irish American tradition. This important work of literary scholarship will dominate the field for years to come.
". . . A prodigious and remarkable work of literary scholarship. This anthology is far more than an original work of scholarship: it is a major act of recovery, which rescues from oblivion the work of important writers who have been the creators of the Irish American literary consciousness. Professor Tobin has achieved the invention of a whole new field. With publication of this anthology, we will finally understand both the scale and importance of Irish American poetry." —Eammon Wall, Jefferson Smurfit Professor of Irish Studies, University of Missouri-St. Louis
“More than two hundred poets from the eighteenth century to now are represented in The Book of Irish American Poetry, some resurrected and restored, others seen anew from the perspective of Irish American studies, still others deservedly anthologized for the first time. Poet and editor Daniel Tobin demonstrates beyond question the length, depth, strength and variety of Irish American poetry. His anthology—complete with historical chronology, biographical and explanatory notes, and extensive bibliographies—is the first accurate map of a new territory.” —Brendan Galvin, author of Habitat: New and Selected Poems, 1965-2005
“An informed and informing intelligence, Dan Tobin casts a wide net across the centuries of poetic engagement with Irish and American interaction. The result of his prodigious labor is an indispensable collection—often surprising in its discoveries and juxtapositions, always illuminating of crucial themes.” —Charles Fanning, Professor of English and History and Distinguished Scholar, Southern Illinois University Carbondale