More Truly and More Strange
100 Contemporary Self-Portrait Poems
Lisa Russ Spaar (Editor and Introduction)
We live in the age of the selfie, or rampant self-portraiture. Social media new offer anyone with a smart phone endless chance to create and display self-portraits. But American poets have been portraying themselves for centuries: “I celebrate myself, and sing myself,” Walt Whitman proclaimed. “I, too, sing America,” Langston Hughes retorted. “I’m nobody! Who are you?” Emily Dickinson provokes. Such assertions of selfhood, while intimate and individual, have helped us ponder who we are as people and a populace.
More Truly and More Strange collects astonishing self-portrait poems from the mid-twentieth century onward. The poems are as varied as they are memorable. Some are surprising catalogues of the poet’s physical form while others minimize the body in favor of other facets of the self, psychological or spiritual. Reflections, visual and existential, are everywhere.
In encountering the ways that our greatest poets have, often disarmingly, perceive themselves, we experience an ever-evolving gallery of American identity.
Lisa Russ Spaar is the editor of three previous poetry anthologies as well as seven books of poetry including Orexia, Vanitas, Rough, and Satin Cash. She is Professor of English at the University of Virginia.
Original Publication: Persea Books