Jesse Zuba. The First Book: Twentieth Century Poetic Careers in America. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2016. xiii, 213p. ISBN 9780691164472. US $39.50.
On the face of it, the notion of a “poetic career” seems contradictory. As Jesse Zuba acknowledges, the benefits can be obscure, retirement plans nonexistent. But the strength of The First Book is its articulation of contradictions at the heart of this idea, and how twentieth-century American poets from Wallace Stevens to Louise Glück work them out.