Bargain hunting for the best of modern poetry

The Wilson Quarterly describes Jahan Ramazani’s efforts to revise The Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry while remaining mindful of his assignment to select “the best poems written in English in the last century from across the world”:

He started by reading and rereading the previous edition, which had appeared in 1988. Were the poems still relevant? Imaginative? “Formally skillful? Histor­ically and socially responsive?” Were they too American? Too British? Too postcolonial? After months of deliberation, Ramazni had created a “grand anthological structure — its proportions carefully balanced and calibrated.”

Then he was told to cut $40,000 worth of permissions costs from his $500,000 budget. His artful structure gave way to a spreadsheet and a new question: “Should I dump one overpriced poem and buy 10 at a discount?”

(Thanks to Lauren for the tip.)


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