New York City has always been a larger-than-life, half-mythical place, and this collection offers an appropriately stunning mosaic of its many incarnations in poetry–ranging from Walt Whitman’s exuberant celebrations to contemporary poets’ moving responses to the September 11 attack on the city.
All the icons of this greatest of cities swirl and flash through these pages: taxis and subways, bridges and skyscrapers, ghettos and roof gardens and fire escapes, from the South Bronx to Coney Island to Broadway to Central Park, and from Langston Hughes’s Harlem to James Merrill’s Upper East Side. Wallace Stevens, e. e. cummings, W. H. Auden, Dorothy Parker, Elizabeth Bishop, Allen Ginsberg, and Audre Lorde are just a few of the poets gathered here, alongside a host of new young voices.
Encompassing as many moods, characters, and scenes as this multifaceted, ever-changing metropolis has to offer, Poems of New York will be treasured by literary lovers of New York everywhere.
In 1811, city planners unveiled the urban grid that would become the New York we know; not long afterward, the city's first poet, Walt Whitman, came along to chronicle its particular nexus of enthusiasm, expansiveness, and elegant ennui. This well-selected volume of New York poems, conceived in the days following September 11, 2001, includes not only the tried-and-true anthology pieces but an assortment of excellent lesser-known poems; we're reminded that in New York all things end "Too soon! Too soon!" (as Ferlinghetti exclaimed), although the city's sophisticated residents will murmur only "It gets so terribly late" (Elizabeth Bishop, teasing a friend). There are some stirring September 11th elegies here, but Whitman's words speak most consolingly, across the century, to the city's new sense of strength imperilled: "It is not upon you alone the dark patches fall, / The dark threw its patches down upon me also."