Toward the Open Field: Poets on the Art of Poetry, 1800–1950

Melissa Kwasny, editor
Published in 2004
by Wesleyan University Press

“This anthology intends to trace a movement from conventional form to exploratory field, and to do so, not by presenting the work of literary historians but by collecting some of the important prose works of poets themselves,” writes Michelle Kwasny in the introduction to this 2004 anthology of manifestos, prefaces, craft essays, and letters from poets writing between 1802 and 1950. Organized into three sections—“Form as Proceeding,” “Crise de Vers,” and “The Poem as a Field of Action”—with introductions to each prose work by Kwasny, readers can track the development of literary styles and thought across the nineteenth and twentieth centuries by the most influential European and American poets, such as Aimé Césaire, Mina Loy, Charles Olson, and William Wordsworth. Expertly arranged and researched, this seminal anthology is one worth keeping on the shelf for any writer looking to expand their understanding of what literary writing has done across time and can still do.