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Great American Prose Poems: From Poe to the Present

4.06  ·  Rating Details ·  281 Ratings  ·  25 Reviews
Great American Prose Poems : From Poe to the Present [Paperback] by Lehman...
Paperback, 352 pages
Published April 21st 2003 by Scribner (first published March 25th 2003)
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The Complete Poems by Emily DickinsonLeaves of Grass by Walt WhitmanShakespeare's Sonnets by William ShakespeareThe Waste Land and Other Poems by T.S. EliotAriel by Sylvia Plath
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Jun 07, 2008 E rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, favorites
To continue a Harryette Mullen metaphor, this book is the sort of book I read when I want to make-out with the English language. It reminds me why I love to write and read great writing. It reminds me why prose is my favorite when it is poetry. It reminds me why I love representing the abstract with the concrete. A bowl of dead bees, a bear pushing a woman in a wheelbarrow, pushing another woman over a cliff - it's all here. Few compilations contain such a great selection and few books leave me ...more
May 14, 2015 Tristan rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Actual rating: 3.75

This was a solid collection, but definitely not the best I've ever read.
As the title suggests, all of these pieces are prose poems. A prose poem is, in its most basic definition, a poem that is in prose, meaning it has no lines or stanzas, but rather is all about sentences and paragraphs. Lehman explores all this in his informative, if rather pretentious, introduction, which does do a nice job of exploring how the prose poem became an established form. Unfortunately, because t
Sep 20, 2008 Tom rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Prose poems? Lyrical essays? Short-short stories? What I love about this genre is that it defies easy categorization and lends itself to some of those innovative writing you're likely to come across.

The Irish poet Conor O'Callaghan once said that the prose poem was an "American genre." He added that he meant that as a compliment. Though I'm not sure I agree completely with that statement (Baudelaire wrote plenty of prose poems, which, frankly, I think are better than his famous Les Fleurs du Mal
Aug 27, 2007 Rebecca rated it liked it
I've finally discovered that I read anthologies the same way most people read bibliographies and magazines. (I'm making my peace with my inability to get through and entire Us Weekly. Though I guess it would have been helpful if this book had a few poems about recent plastic celebrity surgery and whether Camilla will be going to Di's memorial service.) That's why it only gets three stars.

Just kidding. I liked it. You should read it, you pornographic lovers of literature.
Laurel L. Perez
Mar 27, 2014 Laurel L. Perez rated it really liked it
Even if you are not a "poetry person" (whatever that means), this is a lovely little collection of prose poems that will make you laugh, confuse, confound, and haunt. Though there are some pieces in here that may seem as if editor Lehman simply found a prose poem here & there, and made a collection of many well know writers, it was a treat to explore.
Erika Ostergaard
Dec 09, 2010 Erika Ostergaard rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
Like all comprehensive surveys of a century and a half of lit, it hits half the time, misses the other.

Really, it's like the in-print version of a wikipedia page: full of things to point you in a direction you'd rather be going in.
Dec 15, 2007 Cherie rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, poetry
A- Some of the entries are fantastic, and others are mediocre. But def worth reading!
True Reader
Oct 08, 2014 True Reader rated it it was ok
Another prose poetry book. Now you may be asking, “Why, Alex? Why are you reading so much prose poetry!” Alas, I have not discovered a hitherto uncomprehended medium of writing to which I have fallen in love. No. Instead it has been thrust upon me like swiss chard when I was eight years-old. When I say forced, it is only because I’ve been reading it for school, which I like, which I love, which is a good thing as I spend most my hours of each day thinking and participating in it. However, prose ...more
Dec 01, 2010 Paul rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2010
Really loved this. I read this the way I think anthologies are meant to be read, which is as a sort of introduction, or like a smorgasbord, to see what you like and spit out what you don't. What I got from this was a bunch of poets to check out, which, I'm excited. So. Would most definitely recommend this to anyone in my position. Which is what, you're wondering? Bite me.

I was really glad the purported prose-poem tendency to approach the absurd or the surreal wasn't really present here. I'm not
Bojan Tunguz
Apr 06, 2011 Bojan Tunguz rated it it was amazing
I've always enjoyed reading short stories, but over the years I've started to appreciate their form more than their plot-lines, and a careful and insightful use of language became something I increasingly valued. The first time I came across a prose poem, although I did not know it was called that at the time, was a translation of Czeslaw Milosz poem by Robert Pinsky. I was immediately fascinated by it, but I thought it was just something characteristic Milosz's style. Many years later I came ...more
Ted Burke
Apr 30, 2011 Ted Burke rated it it was amazing
There is much cross over betweem prose and poetry forms in contemporary literature, which one can read about in David Lehman's excellent anthology The Great American Prose Form. What he essentially declares in his comprehensive introduction is that we need to rid ourselves of the idea that postmodernism was the advent of writers blurring genre boundries and realize that writers, poets and prose writers both, have been mashing together the forms for quite awhile; our strict ideas of what "poetry" ...more
Hardie Brian
Aug 04, 2014 Hardie Brian rated it it was ok
American Prose Poetry is poopy. Mostly.... charles simic, bernstien, stevens, edson.... there are some great amaerican prose poets, but there needs to elbow grease put into what the standard for what is being considered acceptable, shall we go back to the surrealists, dadaists, rene char...? we need a raising of the bar. musical language, seeing a page more as a blank canvas or blank sheet music
Dec 13, 2008 Lori rated it really liked it
I thouught this was a good prose poem anthology. I actually end up using some of the prose poems in 101 to teach genres and also in intro to creative writing. I liked getting to read prose poems by fiction writers like Hemingway as well as the standard poets. There are some nice examples to show students that poems can be wacky and don't have to rhyme.
Aug 26, 2012 Lauren rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
A wonderful sampling of some of the best prose poems in America. As I read, I kept saying "I bet they won't include _____ poem from _____ poet, the poem is great but too obscure" but even the poems I considered great but not as famous would show up. Anyone who's interested in prose poetry at all should read this anthology.
Jan 19, 2009 Erik rated it really liked it
a good anthology of the historically best prose poems david lehman can select. not the best america has to offer, but that is beside the point. the prose poem is a unique format that provides an interesting tension not to be found in lined verse. I do like the historical perspective the anthology gives.
Jul 28, 2014 lavinia rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
I've been reading this on and off since March actually. On buses or at home, whenever some spare minutes were be available. It's a great collection and I highly recommended it to those who are not that much into poetry but who do enjoy fiction a lot.
Debbie Barr
Sep 21, 2009 Debbie Barr rated it really liked it
A nice book of prose poetry, which is something I am not as familiar with. I didn't enjoy the more modern poems as much, but overall I enjoyed the anthology quite well, especially for a book I was reading for a class.
May 08, 2015 Renee rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, prose-poetry
Read selections for my prose poetry class. A great collection with a fabulous introduction to the history of the prose poem, including its roots in French literature. Makes me want to find a collection with prose poems outside of the American tradition, as well.
Lavinia Petrache
Nov 24, 2015 Lavinia Petrache rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
I've been reading this on and off since March actually. On buses or at home, whenever some spare minutes were be available. It's a great collection and I highly recommended it to those who are not that much into poetry but who do enjoy fiction a lot.
Jan 31, 2008 Dave rated it really liked it
If you have any interest in prose poems this is worth getting for David Lehman's introduction alone. I also found the selection of poems surprisingly good for the most part.
Eric Phetteplace
Feb 26, 2008 Eric Phetteplace rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
i love this book, about two hundred interesting pieces by writers from Poe to Ashbery. Essential to anyone interested in experimental poetry or writing in general.
Jul 16, 2015 Kevin rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, poetry
A good anthology with a wide variety of prose poems. Many to like, love, and some to be bored by - the mark of a broad collection.
Mary Campbell
Jan 21, 2009 Mary Campbell rated it liked it
Party Train is a much better collection. Provides historical context and a good sampling of recent prose poetry.
pinenutsandrice rated it liked it
Sep 08, 2009
Christian Detisch
Christian Detisch rated it really liked it
May 27, 2015
Sal rated it really liked it
Apr 09, 2015
Chris Schaeffer
Chris Schaeffer rated it it was amazing
Aug 04, 2009
Paige rated it it was amazing
Aug 28, 2007
Stefanie rated it it was amazing
Jul 24, 2015
Nick Campanella
Nick Campanella rated it liked it
Jun 05, 2016
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Poetry Readers Ch...: Great American Prose Poems, ed. David Lehman 11 13 May 22, 2015 06:30PM  
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  • The Tunnel: Selected Poems
  • The Collected Poems of Weldon Kees (Revised Edition)
  • Letters to Wendy's
  • Three Poems
  • Interior with Sudden Joy: Poems
  • American Hybrid: A Norton Anthology of New Poetry
  • Miracle Fruit
  • Postmodern American Poetry: A Norton Anthology
  • The World Doesn't End
  • The Poems of Marianne Moore
  • The Best American Poetry 2001
  • The Norton Anthology of Modern & Contemporary Poetry, Vol 2: Contemporary Poetry
  • Destruction Myth: Poems
  • The Random House Book of 20th Century French Poetry
David Lehman is a poet and the series editor for The Best American Poetry series. He teaches at The New School in New York City.
More about David Lehman...

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