Every poetry anthology is a world, and its editors, its collectors or gatekeepers. I read anthologies in order to immerse myself in the imaginations of a crowd of poets who no longer have to jostle for an editor's attention because, after all, their poems were published. However, the poets in any given anthology have to jostle for the reader's attention in the hopes of gaining a new and appreciative fan of their work. As I read through an anthology, will I discover poems that will engage me, irritate me, unsettle me, make me pause and reflect and, even, write, or will my eyes begin to skim toward the end of each poem because the poetic voices begin to blur in their sameness? And whose voices have been included and excluded in this particular poetic landscape?
This week, I am enjoying my way slowly through the alphabetically-organized anthology, New American Poets of the '90s, edited by Jack Myers and Roger Weingarten (First Edition. David R. Godine, Boston, MA: 1991). Once I have read the whole anthology, I will write a review. For now, though, I will mention the titles of some poems that have resonated with me: Jimmy Santiago Baca's "I Am Here", Linda Bierds's "The Stillness, The Dancing", Lorna Dee Cervantes's "Raisins", "Colorado Blvd.", and "From the Bus to E.L. at Atascadero State Hospital".
August 1, 2009