A favorite of college courses nationwide, the Norton anthology—either individually or as a series—already sits on many poetry lovers' shelves. In studying the anthologies in the Norton line, one discovers the importance and individuality inherent in an editor’s penchants and aversions. Many of the anthologies include the same authors, but each editor approaches them with a different critical lens. Though often criticized for sins of omission—criticisms taken into account with the release of each revised edition—the group of Norton anthologies comprises a mammoth resource for and an unparalleled guidebook to the spectacular history of poetry in English.
The Norton Anthology of Modern and Contemporary Poetry, edited by Jahan Ramazani, is a widely and wisely expanded version of Richard Ellmann and Robert O'Clair's classic The Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry. Separated into two volumes, Ramazani's anthology contains many tremendously influential poets that the previous edition did not, including Lorine Niedecker, George Oppen, Louis Zukofsky, May Swenson, Charles Wright, Lucille Clifton, Charles Simic, Robert Hass, Yusef Komunyakaa, Charles Bernstein, Jorie Graham, and Anne Carson. A form of Ellmann and O'Clair's original selection is still printed as Modern Poems: A Norton Introduction.
Paul Hoover's Postmodern American Poetry: A Norton Anthology may be less familiar to some readers, but endures as a paragon of the Norton series. Poems by literary trailblazers such as Charles Olson, Jackson Mac Low, Kenneth Koch, Jerome Rothenberg, David Antin, Ted Berrigan, Russell Edson, Lyn Hejinian, and Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, begin a procession which includes William Shakespeare, John Donne, John Milton, William Blake, Lord Byron, John Keats, Lord Tennyson, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Gerard Manley Hopkins, W. B. Yeats, Gertrude Stein, Wallace Stevens, E. E. Cummings, Langston Hughes, W. H Auden, John Berryman, Robert Creeley, Louise Glück, and Rita Dove. As is printed on the fourth edition, The Norton Anthology of Poetry has become the classroom standard of the study of poetry in English.
Readers interested to see how all of this poetry fits in with the fiction and non-fiction of its time may want to consult The Norton Anthology of American Literature, The Norton Anthology of African American Literature, The Norton Anthology of English Literature, or The Norton Anthology of World Literature.
Ellmann, Richard; and Robert O'Clair, eds. Modern Poems: An Introduction to Poetry, second edition (1989). W. W. Norton & Company.
Ferguson, Margaret; Mary Jo Salter; Jon Stallworthy; and Alexander WG Allison, eds. The Norton Anthology of Poetry, fourth edition (1996). W. W. Norton & Company.
Hoover, Paul, ed. Postmodern American Poetry: A Norton Anthology (1994). W. W. Norton & Company.
Ramazani, Jahan; Richard Ellmann; and Robert O'Clair, eds. The Norton Anthology of Modern and Contemporary Poetry, third edition (2003). W. W. Norton & Company.