Celebrate National Poetry Month Mid Mod style by browsing first edition signed copies from the mid century as well as MCM bookends, bookshelves and typewriters!
Just as interior design and architecture was embracing new, simplified forms, American poetry in the mid century took a similar turn opting for simple, vernacular language and often free verse over the highly structured, traditional poetic forms. Here are just a few examples of the poetic voices of the mid century. We rounded up signed, first editions from the mid century and some other MCM poetry related accoutrements!
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Poetry in the MCM Era
Lucille Clifton Good Times (1969), signed. Available at biblio.com.
Her spare, compact lines and eschewing of capital letters and punctuation are among her trademarks. She tackles complex issues of race, identity, femininity with extraordinary generosity and courage. Good Times is her first collection of poetry and was lauded by The New York Times upon its publication as a one of the most significant works of the decade.
Denise Levertov, Summer Poems (1969). Available at abebooks.com.
Levertov was a pioneer of what she termed organic verse in which the material of the poem shapes the form it takes on the page. A prolific poet, she began as a precocious girl who sent her poems to T.S. Eliot for his feedback. He replied with encouragement. Her work covers a variety of political, ecological and spiritual themes.
Donald Hall, The One Day and Poems 1947-1990, signed first edition. Available at abebooks.com.
One of the significant poets in mid century America, Hall also preferred simple language. Poetry Foundation’s bio summarizes his style as using “Hall used simple, direct language to evoke surrealistic imagery.” A prolific writer in many genres, he wrote essays, children’s books and plays in addition to his poems. He was married to fellow poet Jane Kenyon, an excellent poet in her own right, who died of leukemia in 1994.
Jack Gilbert, Views of Jeopardy (1962), first edition, signed. Available at biblio.com.
Of his own writing, Gilbert wrote, “I am by nature drawn to exigence, compression, selection. One of the special pleasures in poetry for me is accomplishing a lot with the least means possible.” Views of Jeopardy was his first published collection, and he continued a celebrated but secluded life of writing his spare poems about love and loss.
MCM Bookshelves & Book Accessories
Display treasured copies on shelves that suit and showcase the precise and unadorned style.
MCM style wooden bookends
1950 Olympia typewriter
1950 Hermes Baby typewriter
Orange refurbished Olympia typewriter
To read more about what was happening in mid century fiction, read on here. And for more MCM works of art, don’t miss our Modernist Index for more on the era’s foremost designers, architects and their work. And of course, don’t forget to follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest for more Atomic Ranch articles and ideas!