Don’t Leave Hungry

Fifty Years of Southern Poetry Review
Edited by James Smith
Foreword by Billy Collins
January 2009
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Paper: $24.95 (978-1-55728-893-6)
Cloth: $54.95 (978-1-55728-892-9)


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This substantial anthology charts the development of this influential journal decade by decade, making clear that although it has close ties to a particular region, it has consistently maintained a national scope, publishing poets from all over the United States. SPR’s goal has been to celebrate the poem above all, so although there are poems by major poets here, there are many gems by less famous, perhaps even obscure, writers too. Here are 183 poems by nearly as many poets, from A. R. Ammons, Kathryn Stripling Byer, James Dickey, Mark Doty, Claudia Emerson, David Ignatow, and Carolyn Kizer to Ted Kooser, Maxine Kumin, Denise Levertov, Howard Nemerov, Sharon Olds, Linda Pastan, and Charles Wright.

James Smith is associate professor of English at Armstrong Atlantic State University and associate editor of Southern Poetry Review.

Billy Collins was the U.S. Poet Laureate from 2001 to 2003. His first book was The Apple That Astonished Paris, published by The University of Arkansas Press in 1988. He is the editor of the Miller Williams Poetry Prize.

“This superb selection from an enduring, flagship journal holds work by many of our most indispensable poets and, remarkably often, what went on to become their signature poems. This anthology reminds us of those poems’ first public life: in the pages of a ‘small’ magazine with, as it turns out, a freighter-sized wake. The prose introductions to each section are lucid microcosms, outlining each decade’s shifting cultural concerns. If some imagined Alexandrian Library of American Poetry were to burn, this anthology could, on its own, convey an important part of our literary seed-stock.”
—Jane Hirshfield, author of Nine Gates: Entering the Mind of Poetry and After: Poems

“No reader will leave this harvest table hungry—here is nourishment for all. Eleanor Ross Taylor’s title poem invites us to a playful sacrament: eat the ‘bright flesh’ of birdsong, drink the ‘momentary blood’ of a wave, and ‘All thy sins are teggen away, teggen away.’ Fifty years of the best American poetry is spread out before us, grouped by decade with James Smith’s extraordinarily helpful essays giving us a quick context for each, from the ‘Me Decade’ of the seventies to the ‘Greed Decade’ of the eighties and our current ‘Security Decade.’ These poems epitomize their eras yet move beyond, rise beyond as poetry always does, capturing time and place and lived life in a way no other art can manage. . . . This fine collection offers us fare for the journey.”
—Lee Smith, author of On Agate Hill