Poet and scholar team Dora Malech and Laura T. Smith collect and foreground an impressive range of sonnets, including formal and formally subversive sonnets by established and emerging poets, highlighting connections across literary moments and movements. Poets include Phillis Wheatley, Fredrick Goddard Tuckerman, Emma Lazarus, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Gertrude Stein, Fradel Shtok, Claude McKay, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Ruth Muskrat Bronson, Langston Hughes, Muriel Rukeyser, Gwendolyn Brooks, Dunstan Thompson, Rhina P. Espaillat, Lucille Clifton, Marilyn Hacker, Wanda Coleman, Patricia Smith, Jericho Brown, and Diane Seuss. The sonnets are accompanied by critical essays that likewise draw together diverse voices, methodologies, and historical and theoretical perspectives that represent the burgeoning field of American sonnet studies.
Contributor List: Essayists Abdul Ali, Baltimore, MD Anna Lena Phillips Bell, University of North Carolina, Wilmington Jodie Childers, Queens, New York Benjamin Crawford, University of Alabama Meg Day, Franklin and Marshall College Donna Denizé, St. Albans School Michael Dumanis, Bennington College Jordan Finkin, Hebrew Union College Rebecca Morgan Frank, Northwestern University Anna Maria Hong, Mount Holyoke College Gillian Huang-Tiller, University of Virginia, Wise Walt Hunter, Clemson University John James, University of California, Berkeley Matthew Kilbane, University of Notre Dame Diana Leca, University of Oxford Ariel Martino, Colgate University Nate Mickelson, New York University Lisa L. Moore, University of Texas at Austin Timo Müller, University of Konstanz, Germany Carl Phillips, Washington University in St. Louis Zoë Pollak, Columbia University Jonathan F.S. Post, UCLA Stephen Regan, Durham University, UK Jahan Ramazani, University of Virginia Hollis Robbins, University of Utah Nathan Spoon, Joelton, TN Marlo Starr, Wittenberg University Yuki Tanaka, Hosei University, Japan Tess Taylor, Ashland University Michael Theune, Illinois Wesleyan University Eleanor Wakefield, University of Oregon Lesley Wheeler, Washington and Lee University Jon Woodson, Howard University emeritus
Contributors List: Poets Elizabeth Alexander, Agha Shahid Ali, Julia Alvarez, Maggie Anderson, Tacey Atsitty, Charles Bernstein, Ted Berrigan, Jen Bervin, Elizabeth Bishop, Louise Bogan, Ruth Muskrat Bronson, Gwendolyn Brooks, Jericho Brown, Lucille Clifton, Henri Cole, Wanda Coleman, Countee Cullen, William Cullen Bryant, E.E. Cummings, Meg Day, Natalie Diaz, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Alice Moore Dunbar-Nelson, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Rhina Espaillat, Tarfia Faizullah, Robert Frost, torrin a. greathouse, Marilyn Hacker, Robert Hayden, Terrance Hayes, Anthony Hecht, Lynn Hejinian, Leslie Pinckney Hill, Anna Maria Hong, Langston Hughes, David Humphreys, Helen Hunt Jackson, Tyehimba Jess, Helene Johnson, James Weldon Johnson, June Jordan, Douglas Kearney, Richard Kenney, Joan Larkin, Emma Lazarus, Mani Levb, Amy Lowell, Robert Lowell, Nate Marshall, Bernadette Mayer, George Marion McClellan, Brandy Nalani McDougall, Claude McKay, Joyelle McSweeney, Lo Kwa Mei-en, James Merrill, Phillip Metres, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Simone Muench, Marilyn Nelson, Craig Santos Perez, Carl Phillips, Sylvia Plath, Alexander Posey, Lizette Woodworth Reese, Adrienne Rich, Lola Ridge, Muriel Rukeyeser, Kay Ryan, Diane Seuss, Fradel Shtok, Aaron Shurin, giovanni singleton, Patricia Smith, Mary Ellen Solt, Nathan Spoon, Gertrude Stein, Adrienne Su, Lorenzo Thomas, Dunstan Thompson, Natasha Tretheway, Fredrick Goddard Tuckerman, Mona Van Duyn, Ellen Bryant Voight, Margaret Walker, Lucian B. Watkins, Phillis Wheatley, John Wheelwright, Jackie K. White, Walt Whitman, James Wright, Elinor Wylie
About the Author
Dora Malech is associate professor in the writing seminars at Johns Hopkins University, and editor in chief of Hopkins Review. She is author of Flourish, and lives in Baltimore, Maryland.
Laura T. Smith is professor and chair of the English Department at Stevenson University in Maryland. She lives in Baltimore, Maryland.
“With keen observation and rigorous inquiry, The American Sonnet documents and celebrates American poets’ vital contributions to an ancient, global verse form. The poems and essays collected here situate the ‘American sonnet’ within a centuries-long conversation about how poetry happens on the page and in the mind. By centering diverse, living American poets for whom the sonnet is a way to think deeply about social and political questions, this work offers a timely snapshot of our urgent literary moment. The American Sonnet is a feast of discovery for all readers.”—Kiki Petrosino, author, White Blood: A Lyric of Virginia
“The American Sonnet will be embraced by all who’ve noted the lack of diverse scholarship on the sonnet, particularly regarding historically underrepresented sonneteers. Malech and Smith have deepened and expanded the range of our thinking on this form. I can’t wait to teach this book—and be taught by it.”—Beth Ann Fennelly, author, Heating & Cooling: 52 Micro-Memoirs
“I can’t imagine a group of people with whom I would be more excited to talk with about the sonnet than the essayists herein, nor talk more illuminating than their essays. And the sonnets themselves cover whatever the essays don’t (more Dunstan Thompson in anthologies, please). This is an ideal anthology.”—Shane McCrae, author, Cain Named the Animal
“’We shall not always plant while others reap,’ promised Countee Cullen; the robust tradition of sonnets he represented is just one of several in this memorable, thoughtful, useful, and sometimes stellar collection’s deeply American braid, reflecting both a panoply of sonnets from U.S.-based writers (and translators!) and a splendid variety of contemporary writings on the form, a modern—but not too modern—pattern designed to make ‘the soul swing open’ (as Mona Van Duyn puts it) ‘on its hinges.’ Sonnets themselves train up to the present day and then introduce up-to-date reflections on the form, from major critics’ takes to up-and-coming poets’ thoughts: Jahan Ramazani on this ‘tightly wound global form,’ Meg Day's ‘Deaf and disabled existence,’ Timo Muller on Harlem Renaissance translation, arguments about neuroqueerness and autism in (wait for it) Robert Frost, and about where on Earth this form is going beyond the pentameter, beyond—or is it back to?—the past. ‘A sonnet is a mother,’ as the great Diane Seuss writes: here are its children.”—Stephanie Burt