Check out 31 Groundbreaking Works of American Poetry. It's, like, woah. I was happy to see a lot of these books here, but also sad to see some omitted. Although, the only one that really came to mind instantly was Frank Stanford's awesome work The Battlefield Where The Moon Says I Love You. If you haven't gotten the chance to read it, you should. You should at least check out to the link to his poetry if you're unfamiliar with it. I'd specifically recommend Death and the Arkansas River from Constant Stranger.
I was really surprised to see the big guy Charles Olson on the list (WHALE of a man he was). Now, I haven't made my way through The Maximus Poems except for the often excerpted parts of it that appear in anthologies. I was, however, under the impression that the collection was not most people's bag of tricks. Instead, Olson's legacy seems to be built around PROJECTIVE VERSE and his Melville criticism (Call Me Ishmael).
Most of selections were solid, but pretty unsurprising. Was happy to see Ashbery's Self Portrait in a Convex Mirror on the list, but that's about as surprising for a list of American poetry as The Beatles making a greatest bands of all time list. O'Hara's Lunch Poems another great collection.
Perhaps it's a bit recent, but I was actually very disappointed not to see Charles Simic's The World Doesn't End on the list. For the uninitiated, it's a phenomenal work of prose poetry that at least I've found has changed my opinions on the genre. Please, find it if you haven't read it.
Also, where's everyone's favorite estlin? e. e. cummings notably absent from a list of groundbreaking american poets. Pretty curious. Also, can I get a L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poet?
Actually, this list is pretty conservative isn't it? I mean, Creeley, Olson, Ginsberg, Eliot, Pound were all pretty wild for their day, but aren't they the poetic mainstream now? Were they ever really that groundbreaking to begin with? Well yes. They were, but there has been some truly experimental work produced by the US and A. What of that?
I wonder how a list like this will shape up twenty years from now. The current list is pretty backwards looking. Who's going to make the list that's been writing since the 90s?
Apologies for the scattershot reactions. I'm at work.