American Poetry Since 1970

Edited by Andrei Codrescu
Checked out 13 times in 21 years (assuming acquisition at time of publication)
Last checked out 5 years ago

I’m always happy to see a volume of this sort on the shelves of a small library. This beefy book represents poetic outsiders with 576 pages of their poetry. With that many poems, especially poems trying to be edgy, you can be sure there will be some most of us would consider worthless, and equally sure there are some that will delight people. I dipped in and out of this book and found that I most enjoyed poems with a narrative thread (and humor), such as Victor Hernandez Cruz’s “The Physics of Ochun.” It’s a wonderful mix of scientific curiousity, spirituality, and surrealism. A group of scientists go to investigate a statue of a saint reputed to be weeping.

They went directly to the lab
to put the tears through a
series of tests
They put a good amount of
the liquid under their
Strongest Microscope
Lo and behold!
What they saw made them loosen
their neckties

I’m withholding the punch line. You’ll have to look it up in the book. And this is only the beginning of a rollicking adventure.

I also enjoyed Anne Waldman’s poems of pregnancy and new parenthood, such as “Song: Time Drawes Neere.” Yes, she felt compelled to use funky spelling, but it’s still readable and enjoyable.

Ah thee! a secret growing
     I go no more a-maying
           I settle into my tent shift

Bursting at seams
    Big tub, water barrel
          tossed as boat or cloud, gravid

This anthology is a keeper because of the variety (in about every way: form, tone, subject) it offers. However, since it’s also dated, it would be good to keep an eye out for another volume of (what is currently considered) radical or experimental poetry.


About jppoetryreader

Poetry reviewer and poetry consultant for libraries
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