Ohio University Press · Swallow Press ·

Private Poets, Worldly Acts
Public and Private History in Contemporary American Poetry

By Kevin Stein

“No doubt because Stein is both poet and critic, his study is readable, vivid, unclotted, and written with flair and fluidity.”

American Literature

“Stein’s analysis of an important shift in contemporary American poetry should interest any serious student of the genre.”

North Dakota Quarterly

At a time when poets appear tragically detached from the public for which they write, Kevin Stein persuasively demonstrates in Private Poets, Worldy Acts the way a particular group of diverse poets have manifested their communal concerns. As Choice wrote, “Stein’s graceful text is a primer on the relationship of the (American) poetic to the political.”

Looking through the lens of the careers of Robert Lowell, James Wright, Frank O’Hara, Adrienne Rich, Philip Levine, Yusef Komunyakaa, Rita Dove, David Wojahn, and Carolyn Forché, Stein illuminates the various ways contemporary poets redeem a vision of personal, aesthetic, and social relevancy from the shadow of traditionally narrated history.

Available now in an affordable paperback format, Private Poets, Worldly Acts is a thoughtful and compelling look into American poetry’s redemptive venture into the public arena. What results is a renewed appreciation of contemporary poets’ personal conversation with the culture to which they belong.

Kevin Stein is a poet and critic and the author of James Wright: The Poetry of a Grown Man (Ohio University Press, 1988) and Private Poets, Wordly Acts (Ohio University Press, 1996). He teaches at Bradley University.   More info →

Order a print copy

Paperback · $18.36 ·
Add to Cart

Retail price: $22.95 · Save 20% ($18.36)

Hardcover · $34.36 ·
Add to Cart

Retail price: $42.95 · Save 20% ($34.36)

Buy from a local bookstore


US and Canada only

Cover of Private Poets, Worldly Acts

Share    Facebook icon  Email icon


To request instructor exam/desk copies, email Jeff Kallet at

To request media review copies, email Laura Andre at

Permission to reprint
Permission to photocopy or include in a course pack via Copyright Clearance Center


Retail price: $22.95, S.
Release date: November 1996
208 pages
Rights:  World

Retail price: $42.95, S.
Release date: November 1996
208 pages
Rights:  World

Related Titles

Cover of 'And Still Birds Sing'

And Still Birds Sing
New and Collected Poems
By Lucien Stryk

Written over a career that spans five decades, And Still Birds Sing is the masterwork of a major voice in American poetry.Bringing

Poetry · American Literature · Literature

Cover of 'A Gathering of Ways'

A Gathering of Ways
By John Matthias

A Gathering of Ways is John Matthias’ first collection of poems since the publication of his warmly received Northern Summer collection in 1985.

Literature · Poetry · American Literature

Cover of 'Robert Lowell’s Shifting Colors'

Robert Lowell’s Shifting Colors
The Poetics of the Public and the Personal
By William Doreski

In the two decades that have passed since Robert Lowell’s death, Robert Lowell’s Shifting Colors is the first critical survey of the poet’s aesthetic efforts to make personal vision and public exhortation cohere and thus combine poetic genres that have been historically discrete.Rather

Literature · American Literature · Literary Criticism