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Twenty-First-Century American Poets, Second Series. John Cusatis, editor, Detroit: Gale/Cengage, 2014. Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 374, 414 Pages.

Described by Library Journal as "hands-down the best overall literary reference work ever published," the Dictionary of Literary Biography has grown to 382 standard volumes covering every major genre and literary culture, not to mention dozens of special editions that have appeared since its arrival in 1978.

Volume 374 contains comprehensive entries on eighteen prominent American poets publishing in the Twenty-First Century, including U.S. Poets Laureate Billy Collins and Philip Levine, as well as thorough interviews with ten of these poets, conducted by John Cusatis and his AP English Literature students at the School of the Arts in Charleston, SC via Skype, conference call or in person between 2010-2013.

Signed Entry by John Cusatis:
"Preface"   xix-xx.
Interviews by John Cusatis and SOA AP English Literature Students
"Interview with Kim Addonizio" 13-23
"Interview with Billy Collins" 35-44
"Interview with Amy Gerstler" 87-96
"Interview with Nikki Giovanni" 111-118
"Interview with Tony Hoagland" 168-179
"Interview with David Kirby" 190-204
"Interview with Philip Levine" 221-228
"Interview with Peter Meinke" 239-252
"Interview with James Richardson" 271-279
"Interview with Dean Young" 296-301

The treatment of contemporary poets in Twenty-First-Century American Poets, Second Series, ed. John Cusatis (DLB 374), following on the first series volume by the same editor (DLB 372), is in most respects a conventional addition to this long-standing, shelf-groaning publishing enterprise -- the usual overview essays, primary and second bibliographies, and abundant illustrations, many of them in this instance photographs of the dust jackets of poetry collections. The title of the volume might suggest its purview is poets whose careers became significant in 2000 and after. But the inclusion of Lawrence Ferlinghetti (b. 1919), Philip Levine (b. 1928), and Peter Meinke (b. 1932) dispels that presumption. That Nikki Giovanni (b. 1943) and Billy Collins (b. 1941) occupy the same space is also striking, she the long-established figure, he the suddenly and more recently popular poet laureate. The youngsters are Brenda Shaughnessy (b. 1970), Terrance Hayes (b. 1971), and Matthea Harvey (b. 1973). That these poets are alive means they can talk about themselves, and Cusatis takes advantage of their availability by supplementing the contributed essays with lively and compelling interviews with several of them (Kim Addonizio, Collins, Giovanni, Tony Hoagland, David Kirby, Levine, Meinke, James Richardson, and Dean Young). It says something about my longevity and coincidence that I knew Collins as an undergraduate at Holy Cross and Young as a graduate student when I taught at Indiana. It says something about my long acquaintance with DLB that I have to register once again my annoyance at the presence in print of the cumulative index to DLB and related projects concluding this volume: it occupies a full quarter of the total of 440 pages. -David J. Nordloh, American Literary Scholarship 2014 (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2015)

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