Oscar's Reviews > American Hybrid: A Norton Anthology of New Poetry

American Hybrid by Cole Swensen
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it was ok
bookshelves: poetry

Could also be titled: Experiment for Experiment's Sake.

I only got through 2/3 of the book (has to go back to my local library) but what I did read was very mixed. My chief concern with this anthology is how it breaks down the tensions in United States Poetry to a "fundamental division" between narrative and experimental texts when all that is explored in this volume is the negotiation between variations in U.S. English non-linear narrative in contemporary academic poetry without putting any focus on hybrid texts outside of academia and/or explore the boundaries of English.

Many of the selections from the poets really only hint at the possibility of hybrid text as the samples rarely show a collision of the two coming together with only a few poets actually able to balance plain language and disrupted text in a single poem or even a few pages. Some of the poets who do show the best of all worlds in this collection include Nathaniel Mackey, Michael Palmer, John Yau and Harryette Mullen.

With a shaky premise to begin with (poetry has always benefited from a collision between various camps, not just a late 20th century argument between academics), a very loose definition of "academic poetry" (probably included because almost every poet is in academia), and a mandate that hybrid poetry can lead us back to a "purer sense of language" and help in the "renaming of the world" (I thought that was the job of all poetry), this collection doesn't offer a plurality of voices but instead seeks to limit the definitions of what modern poetry can be.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
May 30, 2009 – Shelved
May 30, 2009 – Shelved as: poetry
May 30, 2009 – Finished Reading

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message 1: by Steve (new)

Steve I checked this out at the library. I doubt I'll read the whole thing. Your review -- especially the last paragraph, captures my concerns before even opening the book. But there are some poets in it I will check out. Great review!

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