A merican poets in the twentieth century not merely registeredthe impact of modernism but were its exemplary figures. People looked to the United States for new voices and forms of experi-

mentation, and for a democratic verse that would expand on the work of

Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson. Inherited tone, content, form, poet-

ics and even the lines dividing poetry from other genres were all questioned

radically by American poets at the turn of the century. ‘Make it new’ was

Ezra Pound’s iconic imperative to his contemporaries and heirs. It is this

urge towards newness and innovation that characterises the best of twen-

tieth-century American poetry.