Poetry anthology gets Starred Review – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Poetry anthology gets Starred Review

A poetry anthology for which James McCorkle of the HWS faculty was one of the editors recently received a Booklist Starred Review.

“The Greenwood Encyclopedia of American Poets and Poetry [Five Volumes]” edited by Jeffrey Gray, McCorkle, and Mary McAleer Balkun, addresses 820 authors and 117 topics.

Reviewer Joseph Thomas noted that he editors “aggressively pursued a balance of coverage, with representation of women and ethnic and sexual minorities. Entries on Abraham Lincoln and Hawaii's Queen Lili'uokalani indicate the encyclopedia's breadth of coverage, as do scores of articles on newer writers.”

Thomas also noted that “Topical entries provide not only a definition of the term but also its literary and social context and relation to contemporary study of poetry. Relevant people, works, and events are also discussed.

“Ranging from Angel Island poetry to Slam poetry, and from the Bay Psalm Book to Small press book publishing, topics address a variety of ethnic and cultural influences, genres and schools, poetics, and the publishing of American writing. The entry on Digital poetry is noteworthy for pointing to an important frontier for poetry. One of the longer entries, literary magazines, fills more than four pages with the relevance, development, and description of influential magazines and the authors they published.”

Rating the book “Highly recommended,” Thomas says, “Nothing quite compares to the present work — to get the breadth and depth of this encyclopedia, users would have to combine several outstanding reference works. … 'The Greenwood Encyclopedia of American Poets and Poetry' is useful for a wide readership, especially high school and college students.”

Each entry is followed by a list for further reading, broken down into primary and secondary sources. “Access is offered through an alphabetical list of entries, a list of poets (divided into “Pre-Twentieth-Century Poets” and “Twentieth- and Twenty-first-Century Poets”), a list of topical entries, and a table of topical entries grouped by subtopic.”

McCorkle, who joined the HWS faculty in 1987, is a member of the Hobart Class of 1976. He earned a master of fine arts and his doctorate from the University of Iowa.