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John Berryman: Selected Poems (American Poets Project) [Hardcover]

By John Berryman & Kevin Young (Editor)
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Item description for John Berryman: Selected Poems (American Poets Project) by John Berryman & Kevin Young...

Explores the twentieth-century poet's emulation of the everyday protagonist's search for connection, discussing the accomplishments of such early works as Homage to Mistress Bradstreet, his evocative middle-career writings including the Dream Song, and his wrenching late religious poems.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   196
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.75" Width: 4.75" Height: 8"
Weight:   0.5 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Nov 4, 2004
Publisher   Library of America
ISBN  1931082693  
ISBN13  9781931082693  

Availability  0 units.

More About John Berryman & Kevin Young

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John Berryman (1914 1972) was an American poet and scholar. He won the Pulitzer Prize for 77 Dream Songs in 1965 and the National Book Award and the Bollingen Prize for His Toy, His Dream, His Rest, a continuation of The Dream Songs, in 1969. Michael Hofmann is an acclaimed poet, translator, and critic. He has published six books of poetry and has translated more than sixty books from the German, including Gottfried Benn's Impromptus: Selected Poems and Some Prose, as well as works by Ernst Junger, Franz Kafka, and Joseph Roth. His criticism appears regularly in the London Review of Books, The New York Review of Books, and Poetry. He currently teaches poetry and translation at the University of Florida.


John Berryman was born in 1914 and died in 1972.

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Product Categories

1Books > Special Features > New & Used Textbooks > Humanities > English > American Literature
2Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Authors, A-Z > ( B ) > Berryman, John
3Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Poetry > General
4Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Poetry > Single Authors > United States
5Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > World Literature > United States > Poetry > 20th Century
6Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > World Literature > United States > Poetry > General

Reviews - What do customers think about John Berryman: Selected Poems (American Poets Project)?

John Berryman: selected poems  Mar 8, 2007
A good introduction to Berryman's work, especially strong on the early work, under-represented in other selections I have seen. The later work is less comprehensive: 34 out of "77 dream songs" (44%) is fine; but only 27 out of 308 dream songs in the subsequent "His toy, his dream, his rest" (9%)? That tiny representation must indicate that the editor, Kevin Young, believes that Berryman declined spectacularly as a poet in the late 60s, despite winning the National Book Award for "His toy, his dream, his rest"; and I cannot accept this. My small complaint about this volume really boils down to the imposition of a 200-page upper limit to the volumes in the American poets project. Some poets could be happily represented by 150 pages. Berryman needs 250. However, given this limitation, the editor has done well in presenting a rounded picture of Berryman's achievement, with a short but helpful introdution, and ten pages of notes and background material.
Well-selected poems of an uneven poet.  May 20, 2005
I thoroughly enjoyed reading the editor's introduction and these poems of a Pulitzer-Prize-winning poet. They are well selected and represent the entire span of Berryman's work unlike some other collections that lack some of the author's books. My favorite poems are his early poems up to his famous "Homage to Mistress Bradstreet" and his late poems that have lost much of his egotism and drip with regret, humility, and hope of a better life.

A knowledge of Berryman's life is requisite to understand most of his poetry. His father committed suicide when the author was just a boy. Berryman was promptly adopted, given a new last name - Berryman, and sent to a boarding school by his mother and new stepfather - the man with whom his mother was having an affair at the time of his father's suicide. Berryman himself committed suicide at age 57 after years of problems from divorce to alcholism. The editor, Kevin Young, gives a great overview of Berryman's life and allows the reader of these poems the knowledge necessary to enjoy them fully. I think a reader would be lost much of the time without the introduction, so I definitely recommend this particular edition.

His early poems are about the struggle for adulthood. Here is a representative excerpt.
"He is learning, well behind his deperate eyes,
The epistemology of loss, how to stand up
Knowing what every man must one day know
And most know many days, how to stand up"

The influence of Auden, Yeats, Eliot and others are evident. Take these lines:
"The time is coming near
When none shall have books or music, none his dear,
And only a fool will speak aloud his mind.
History is approaching a speechless end"
You could easily place these lines in the middle of Yeats' Second Coming.

There is an undeniable religiosity in Berryman's work from the earliest to the latest poems. Lines like "Finish, Lord, in me this work thou hast begun" are as autobiographical as they are biographical. In one of his last poems he notes, "I do not understand; but I believe".

His middle poems are wildly unpredictable and unconventional. Some are pithy, others whimsical, and still others offensive. Who can not be charmed by a poet who notes, "Life, friends, is boring."

All in all, a great American poet, in a great collection with a great foreword and editor. Four stars.
Will serve to introduce a whole new generation to his work   Nov 8, 2004
John Berryman: Selected Poems is the latest addition to the outstanding "American Poets Project" series from The Library of America. Deftly edited for the reader by poet and essayist Kevin Young, this is the the showcase collection of poetry by the Pulitzer Prize winning John Berryman and will aptly serve to introduce a whole new generation to his work that ranges from wrenching religious poems to verse that is characterized with a mesmerizing diction. King David Dances: Aware to the dry throat of the wide hell in the world,/O trampling empires, and mine one of them,/and mine one gross desire against His sight,/slaughter devising there,/some good behind, ambiguous ahead,/revolted sons, a pierced son, bound to bear,/mid hypocrites amongst idolaters,/mockt in abysm by one shallow wife,/with the ponder both of priesthood & of State/heavy upon me, yea,/all the black same I dance my blue head off! Also very highly recommended as newly released titles in of the "American Poets Project" series are William Carlos Williams: Selected Poems (1931082-715, $20.00) and Amy Lowell: Selected Poems (1931082707, $20.00).

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