Collected Poems of Evelyn Scott

The Collected Poems of Evelyn Scott
Edited by Caroline C. Maun
National Poetry Foundation, Orono, Maine
2005 | ISBN: 0-943373-67-0

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The Collected Poems of Evelyn Scott continues an ongoing National Poetry Foundation project to bring into print the work of poets who have slipped out of the canon, but who in our judgment deserve a critical reconsideration. Born in 1893 and beginning her writing career in the late 1910s, Evelyn Scott belonged to a generation that radically and permanently transformed the role of women poets within American culture. This generation included experimentalists like Gertrude Stein, H.D., Marianne Moore, Mina Loy, Laura Riding, and Lorine Niedecker, but it also included more traditional poets such as Sara Teasdale, Elinor Wylie, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Babette Deutsch, Genevieve Taggard, Louise Bogan, and Marya Zaturenska. Influenced earlier in her career by the Imagists, Scott was a friend of William Carlos Williams and published in avant-garde magazines in the years after World War II. However, in her desire to explore previously suppressed possibilities in women’s experience, she also has links to poets such as Millay and Taggard.

This volume reprints, for the first time since their original publication, two books of poetry that Scott published in her lifetime, Precipitations (1920) and The Winter Alone (1930). In addition, this volume prints for the first time, under the title The Gravestones Wept, a collection of poetry that Scott wrote in the 1930s and 1940s, when her career as a novelist and her personal life were disintegrating. These previously unpublished poems reveal that in years when Scott was dismissed as “mad” by many of her erstwhile friends, her poetic art ripened into a new lucidity and authority, as she revived traditional poetic forms to new purpose, and as she addressed the traumas of modernity with a sometimes startling prescience. This edition includes a biographical introduction by Caroline Maun. A preface by Burton Hatlen assesses the significance of Scott’s poetry in the context of twentieth-century American literary history.

Review of The Collected Poems of Evelyn Scott in Choice (March 2006): 1229-1230.

As Burton Hatlen, director of the National Poetry Foundation, notes in his preface, this volume is the fourth in the foundation's endeavor to recover "lost" poets. He places Scott (1893-1963), born Elsie Dunn, in the "Generation of 1900," which included Gertrude Stein, H. D., and Marianne Moore--a group of poets who radically changed the status of women poets in America. Hatlen observes that Lola Ridge, H. D., and William Carlos Williams served as models for Scott's style. In her introduction, Maun presents a brief biography and discussion of the ten novels Scott published before turning to poetry. This edition reprints two volumes of Scott's poetry -- Precipitations (1920) and The Winter Alone (1930), which include some poems originally published in such magazines as Poetry and The Dial--and 51 poems published here for the first time. Scott reworked this latter group--"The Gravestones Wept"--four times between 1931 and 1960, and the poems in it attest to Scott's struggle for her art amidst economic deprivation. Appendixes contain three short versions of Scott's foreword to the 1948-49 edition and the lengthier, more revealing foreword to the 1951 edition. This book is appropriate for libraries developing poetry or women's studies sections. Summing up: Recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty; general readers. --J.C. Kohl, emerita, Dutchess Community College