Howard Nemerov—poet laureate of the United States, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award, and chancellor of the Academy of American Poets—was one of the most prolific and significant American poets of the twentieth century. By the time of his death in 1991, he had published fourteen collections of poetry.
Judiciously selected and introduced by poet Daniel Anderson, The Selected Poems of Howard Nemerov represents the broad spectrum of Nemerov’s virtues as a poet—his intelligence, his wit, his compassion, and his irreverence. It stands as the retrospective collection of the best of what Nemerov left behind, which is some of the finest poetry that the twentieth century produced.
“To keep his errors down to a minimum,” W. H. Auden wrote, “the internal Censor to whom a poet submits his work in progress should be a Censorate. It should include, for instance, a sensitive only child, a practical housewife, a logician, a monk, an irreverent buffoon a nd even, perhaps, hated by all others and returning their dislike, a brutal, foul-mouthed drill sergeant who considers all poetry rubbish.”
Such are the readers to whom the poetry of Howard Nemerov might appeal. He distinguished himself on the landscape of American letters as a writer of great versatility. More than a decade after his death, that claim still holds true.
In this, the only edition of Nemerov’s work that surveys his entire poetic output, first-time readers of these poems will find an introduction to a truly remarkable creative mind. Longtime admirers of Nemerov will be reminded once again of his significance as a craftsman and philosopher, and as a poetic steward of the many ways in which we experience the world.