Poet and scholar team Dora Malech and Laura T. Smith collect and foreground an impressive range of sonnets, including formal and formally subversive sonnets by established and emerging poets, highlighting connections across literary moments and movements. Poets include Phillis Wheatley, Fredrick Goddard Tuckerman, Emma Lazarus, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Gertrude Stein, Fradel Shtok, Claude McKay, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Ruth Muskrat Bronson, Langston Hughes, Muriel Rukeyser, Gwendolyn Brooks, Dunstan Thompson, Rhina P. Espaillat, Lucille Clifton, Marilyn Hacker, Wanda Coleman, Patricia Smith, Jericho Brown, and Diane Seuss. The sonnets are accompanied by critical essays that likewise draw together diverse voices, methodologies, and historical and theoretical perspectives that represent the burgeoning field of American sonnet studies.

“’We shall not always plant while others reap,’ promised Countee Cullen; the robust tradition of sonnets he represented is just one of several in this memorable, thoughtful, useful, and sometimes stellar collection’s deeply American braid, reflecting both a panoply of sonnets from U.S.-based writers (and translators!) and a splendid variety of contemporary writings on the form, a modern—but not too modern—pattern designed to make ‘the soul swing open’ (as Mona Van Duyn puts it) ‘on its hinges.’ Sonnets themselves train up to the present day and then introduce up-to-date reflections on the form, from major critics’ takes to up-and-coming poets’ thoughts: Jahan Ramazani on this ‘tightly wound global form,’ Meg Day's ‘Deaf and disabled existence,’ Timo Muller on Harlem Renaissance translation, arguments about neuroqueerness and autism in (wait for it) Robert Frost, and about where on Earth this form is going beyond the pentameter, beyond—or is it back to?—the past. ‘A sonnet is a mother,’ as the great Diane Seuss writes: here are its children.”—Stephanie Burt 

The American Sonnet will be embraced by all who’ve noted the lack of diverse scholarship on the sonnet, particularly regarding historically underrepresented sonneteers. With this anthology, Malech and Smith have deepened and expanded the range of our thinking on this form. I can’t wait to teach this book—and be taught by it.”—Beth Ann Fennelly, author, Heating & Cooling: 52 Micro-Memoirs 

“I can’t imagine a group of people with whom I would be more excited to talk with about the sonnet than the essayists herein, nor talk more illuminating than their essays. And the sonnets themselves cover whatever the essays don’t (more Dunstan Thompson in anthologies, please). This is an ideal anthology.”—Shane McCrae, author, Cain Named the Animal 

 “With keen observation and rigorous inquiry, The American Sonnet documents and celebrates American poets’ vital contributions to an ancient, global verse form. The poems and essays collected here situate the ‘American sonnet’ within a centuries-long conversation about how poetry happens on the page and in the mind. By centering diverse, living American poets for whom the sonnet is a way to think deeply about social and political questions, this work offers a timely snapshot of our urgent literary moment. The American Sonnet is a feast of discovery for all readers.”—Kiki Petrosino, author, White Blood: A Lyric of Virginia

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