Above: Harvey Shapiro in 1945 (left) and in a recent photo (right).
This anthology brings together 120 poems about World War II by 62
American poets, chosen, as editor Harvey Shapiro writes in his
introduction, "with a purpose: to demonstrate that the American
poets of this war produced a body of work that has not yet been
recognized for its clean and powerful eloquence." The poets are
generally unsentimental, ironic, and often astonished by what they
have experienced, and their insights still have the power to shake
up our perceptions of that war and of war in general.
Most of the poets included in the volume served in the armed forces;
someLouis Simpson, Anthony Hecht, Kenneth Kochsaw combat in the
infantry, while othersJames Dickey, Howard Nemerov, Richard Hugo,
John Ciardifought in the air. Also included: poets who
experienced the war as civilians, including Robinson Jeffers,
Marianne Moore, and Conrad Aiken; poems by conscientious objectors
and draft resisters, including William Stafford and Robert Lowell;
and an elegy by James Tate for his father, who was killed in action
when Tate was an infant.
Listen to editor and poet Harvey Shapiro discuss Poets of World War II on NPR's Fresh Air.
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