Picking up where the groundbreaking and anti-academic Grove Press anthology of New American Poetry left off in 1960, American Poetry Since 1970: Up Late is a gathering of wildly provocative and experimental work from over one hundred American poets. As poet David Kirby explains, "This is a big, crazy, tasty book…the middle-class poet-professor who edits his school's literary magazine is deliberately excluded; instead…[this] anthology emphasizes work that is erotic, feminist, Zen, surreal, and urban/gritty."
Prolific poet, essayist, editor and radio commentator Andrei Codrescu selected the poems. His introduction offers an overview of the history of experimental poetry in the U.S., discussing its roots, pivotal anthologies and journals, defining events, and major debates. He posits that the poetic ancestors of the work are as varied as Walt Whitman, Charles Baudelaire, Emily Dickinson, and the French Surrealists. At the close of his introduction he sets aside the contemporary clash between "language poets," and "new romantics" (which he identifies himself as) saying "The argument is temporarily abolished. Both factions are well represented here, with their poems (or texts) intact. Whatever the differences, we have all stayed up late in the particular faith of New American Poetry."
At close to 600 pages, American Poetry Since 1970: Up Late contains the work of a wide array of poets including Ted Berrigan, Alice Notley, Anselm Hollo, Rosmarie Waldrop, Clark Coolidge, Susan Howe, John Yau, Elaine Equi, Alberto Ríos, David Trinidad, Michael Palmer, and Lyn Hejinian. Codrescu summarizes the vast collection this way: "There are second and third generation New York School Poets here, California Zen Surrealists, performance and "new wave" poets, erotic lyricists and "language" poets, in short, all that is new now."
Including its first publication in 1987, Up Late has gone through five printings, testifying to an enduring interest in the "new now" work collected within its pages. The second edition was published in 1990 and was expanded to include work from approximately six new poets and an extensive index.