Books: Poetry's 40th

U.S. poetry was fizzing when Harriet Monroe of Chicago started Poetry magazine in 1912. By opening her pages to some of the best young fizzers, she got some "firsts" to be proud of: T. S. Eliot's Prufrock, Carl Sandburg's Chicago, early verse by Ezra Pound, Wallace Stevens, Edna St. Vincent Millay.

The magazine became a haven for published and unpublished poets, regardless of poetic school. They could always pick up encouragement and, if necessary, a meal. And for 24 years, like an encouraging schoolteacher, Editor Monroe sat waiting for fresh geniuses to blow in. Her office was rarely dull; nobody was much...

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