Twenty Years of Poetry in Review
Herbert Leibowitz, Editor
A selection of the essays on contemporary poetry from the best poetics journal in the field.


"Good criticism is always an exercise of the imagination. In this sense Parnassus plays a central role in contemporary American letters. It is a bridge between poetry and criticism. In its pages, poetical imagination mirrors and confronts itself with the critical mind. Criticism gives rigor and self-awareness to poetry and poetry gives wings to criticism." --Octavio Paz

Provocative, witty, eclectic, intimate, authoritative without being autocratic--Parnassus has embodied all of these qualities in its twenty years as one of America's most beloved literary magazines. Parnassus has pioneered a way of talking about poetry that, without sacrificing intellectual acuity, avoids the sometimes wooden language of academic criticism. In publishing much of the finest work in contemporary poetry criticism and poetics, Parnassus has been the patron of the singular voice that is passionate and informed, enlarging to the mind, and above all, exhilarating to read--and reread.

In this twentieth-anniversary collection, Herbert Leibowitz, Parnassus' editor, has brought together twenty-two varied and distinguished writers--eighteen of them poets or novelists--such as Diane Ackerman, Eavan Boland, Guy Davenport, Tess Gallagher, Seamus Heaney, Zbigniew Herbert, and Helen Vendler--for the choicest of literary feasts. Whether reevaluating a poet from the past, as in Adrienne Rich's landmark essay on Emily Dickinson or Paul West's imaginary interview with Djuna Barnes, measuring the innovations and achievements of poets as different as Derek Walcott or John Ashbery, rescuing from neglect poets whose work appeared in small presses and then vanished, or crossing into the territory of foreign poets from Pushkin and Leopardi to Apollinaire and Zbigniew Herbert, these essays and reviews resist formula and cant in prose that is brilliant, exacting, seductive, humane, and poetic.

Praise / Awards

  • ". . . an inventory of a treasure house. It brings together commentaries on poetry, both American and international, shaped by a single guiding principle: that they were written for one of the best editors and best poetry magazines in America. This collection is a record of some of the widest, most affectionate and careful views of contemporary poetry to be found anywhere."
    --Eavan Boland
  • "This book shows how richly Parnassus deserves its name: the magazine has verified the eminence of poetry by maintaining the highest standards in the art of poetry review."
    --Seamus Heaney

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 432pp.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Paper
  • 1995
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-06577-6

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  • $26.95 U.S.