Carl Philips on the Yale Younger Poets series

I like the work of Carl Philips so much I suspect I would find poetry in his grocery lists. Here he is writing about editing a compilation of 100 years of Yale Younger Poets choices. Daunting task, but the right person to do it given it’s very white history.

Our awareness, as a society, of all kinds of diversity and of a need to be more inclusive has evolved considerably since the 1950s, and that evolution has been especially swift in the last 15 years. The Yale Series of Younger Poets has, I think, become increasingly reflective of that inclusivity. The value of diversity, for American poetry, should be obvious, I hope: we are a diverse country, and anything that wants to call itself American poetry must be reflective of that diversity—how call it American, if it represents only one voice in a choir of voices?

The effect of diversity is another, subtler, and ultimately more revolutionary matter. A shared aspect of the majority of poetry written by historically marginalized people is that the poems often interrogate and trouble their relationship to a language and prosody that have been handed down by a primarily white, male, English tradition.

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