One Kind of Everything elucidates the uses of autobiography and constructions of personhood in American poetry since World War II, with helpful reference to American literature in general since Emerson. Taking on one of the most crucial issues in American poetry of the last fifty years, celebrated poet Dan Chiasson explores what is lost or gained when real-life experiences are made part of the subject matter and source material for poetry. In five extended, scholarly essays—on Robert Lowell, Elizabeth Bishop, Frank Bidart, Frank O’Hara, and Louise Glück—Chiasson looks specifically to bridge the chasm between formal and experimental poetry in the United States. Regardless of form, Chiasson argues that recent American poetry is most thoughtful when it engages most forcefully with autobiographical material, either in an effort to embrace it or denounce it.
"In vigorous, engaging essays that are mercifully free of jargon, [Chiasson] explores the role of autobiography in the work of Lowell, Bishop, Bidart, O'Hara, Glück, and the Language school. . . . His earlier critique of the Language poets--that they fail to 'delight and instruct,' cannot be extended to Chiasson's book: delighting and instructing is exactly what One Kind of Everything accomplishes."