This is one of my favorite books of all time...not simply because I read it as a child, but because Shel Silverstein is a brilliant poet! Not everyoneThis is one of my favorite books of all time...not simply because I read it as a child, but because Shel Silverstein is a brilliant poet! Not everyone can take "nonsense" and rhyme and use them so imaginatively. I remember bringing this book into my 2nd or 3rd grade class (I forget) to read out loud. There was laughter all around.
However, I will disagree with the description in one way; not all of the poetry is "nonsense." I felt as though some of them, at least, were serious and had a deeper meaning. And I'm not being facetious! If you doubt me, go back and read it again yourself. You may find something in it that you might have missed as a child....more
OK...though this is one of my favorite books of poetry, I am selective about which poets I've really enjoyed from it. I do credit this book, however,OK...though this is one of my favorite books of poetry, I am selective about which poets I've really enjoyed from it. I do credit this book, however, with introducing me to slam poetry, the likes of which I'd never read or heard onstage before. At the time, I was in college, and The Outlaw Bible helped me discover such poetic "outlaws" as Tupac Shakur, Patricia Smith, Taylor Mali, Pedro Pietri, Mike Mollett, and Bob Flanagan (of Sick fame).
The major difference, as I see it, between this book and most of the ones that you'll read in school is that The Outlaw Bible discusses openly subjects such as sex (both hetero- and homosexual), violence, sadism, masochism, drug abuse (in a positive light), and rape. Though the classical poets may have covered these subjects as well, it seems they were often disguised by flowery language, such that you'd never know what they meant. Not here!
Actually, my major criticism of the book (and the reason I wouldn't give it 5 stars) is that it isn't particularly well organized. There is a chapter called "Slammers," and also "Prologue: Voices from Outlaw Heaven," which offers poems from those who are no longer with us. However, the majority are listed under "American Renegades"; maybe it's just that most poets aren't able to be classified, and that was the closest common thread that they had.
So, for anyone who loves spoken word and beat poetry, or for those who are looking to expand their repertoire, I'd recommend The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry. ...more