In 1979, "Five American Poets" helped to change our sense of American poetry, introducing the work of Robert Hass, John Matthias, James McMichael, John Peck and Robert Pinsky to British readers and writers. Now, in a much-changed landscape, this volume revisits that constellation of writers: what have they been up to since the 1970s; why have they become so important in energising the writing of their own country; and, what do they bring to us. They shared at Stanford University in California an apprenticeship in language as students of the poet-critic Yvor Winters. Associates since the 1960s, they never constituted a 'movement', but they have in common, in Clive Wilmer's words, 'a fundamental faith, tested to endurance by the politics of our era, that a common language implies a common society'. "Five American Poets" continues a conversation between these distinctive voices, from the colloquial ease of Robert Pinsky to the allusive discontinuities of John Matthias, from James McMichael's narratives to the meditative textures created by John Peck and the sensuous immediacy of Robert Hass.
Michael Schmidt OBE FRSL is Professor of Poetry at the University of Glasgow, where he is also convenor of the Creative Writing M Litt Programme. He is a founder and the Editorial and Managing Director of Carcanet Press and founder and general Editor of PN Review. He has published several collections of poems, two novels, a number of anthologies and volumes of literary history, and two books of translations. Robert Hass was born in San Francisco in 1941 and now live in Berkeley. He is the author of five volumes of poetry. The most recent, Times and Materials, won both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize in 2007. John Matthias was born in Colombus, Ohio, in 1941 and now lives in Cambridge in the UK. His work has been translated into several European languages. James McMichael was born in Pasadena in 1939. He teaches at the University of California. His most recent book, Capacity, was shortlisted for the 2006 National Book Award. JOHN PECK was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1941. After living for many years in Zurich, where he trained as an analyst at the C.G. Jung Institute, he is now in private practice in Vermont. He was awarded the Prix de Rome for The Broken Blockhouse Wall (Carcanet, 1979). In 1999 Carcanet published his Collected Shorter Poems 1966-1996. Robert Pinsky was born in 1940 in Long Branch, New Jersey. He is a former poet laureate of the United States and has appeared as himself in the animated sitcom The Simpsons.