The Contemporary Narrative Poem

The Contemporary Narrative Poem

Critical Crosscurrents

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290 pages

“A first-rate piece of work by a range of important poet-critics on an important and woefully neglected aspect of contemporary poetry.”—Jay Parini, Middlebury College

“Steven Schneider’s ambitious new collection fills an important gap in critical studies. Although the return of narrative poetry has been one of the most significant trends in contemporary American letters, it has received little critical or theoretical commentary. Schneider and his contributors examine this hugely influential trend from diverse perspectives. This is an original and irreplaceable collection.”—Dana Gioia, University of Southern California, and former chair, National Endowment for the Arts

Over the past thirty years, narrative poems have made a comeback against the lyric approach to poetry that has dominated the past century. Drawing on a decade of conferences and critical seminars on the topic, The Contemporary Narrative Poem examines this resurgence of narrative and the cultural and literary forces motivating it.

Gathering ten essays from poet-critics who write from a wide range of perspectives and address a wide range of works, the collection transcends narrow conceptions of narrative, antinarrative, and metanarrative. The authors ask several questions: What formal strategies do recent narrative poems take? What social, cultural, and epistemological issues are raised in such poems? How do contemporary narrative poems differ from modernist narrative poems? In what ways has history been incorporated into the recent narrative poetry? How have poets used the lyric within narrative poems? How do experimental poets redefine narrative itself through their work? And what role does consciousness play in the contemporary narrative poem? 

The answers they supply will engage every poet and student of poetry.


Jacqueline Vaught Brogan

Christine Casson

Gregory Dowling

Elisabeth A. Frost

Roger Gilbert

April Lindner

Stephen Paul Miller

Robert Miltner

Robert B. Shaw

Daniel Tobin