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Reviews 2012 > American Society: What Poets See

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message 1: by Nina (new)

Nina | 1035 comments This is a remarkable collection of poetry of witness. Honest witness to what these poets see as American society, past and present. The co-editors acknowledge “thematic gaps” in the collection. No themed anthology could possibly contain every aspect of the theme, especially one dealing with social and political aspects of society. The book is arranged in alphabetical order, although there is an index grouping the poems into broad themes such as economy and work, environment, inequality and justice, religion and politics, rise and fall, and violence and war.

By only quoting from a few poems, it is impossible to do justice to the skill and accomplishment of the poets included in this anthology. I can honestly say that there were no poems that left me wondering why they had been chosen. This is perhaps a reflection of my own cynical thoughts, as the majority of these poems took shots at various aspects of our society. This collection shows us the other side of the story, the side not covered by news reports.

Robert S. King speaks eloquently about the continuing trauma of a Vietnam vet.
It’s jungle-hot and crowded in my mind.
Even cold showers respray the Mekong
in a monsoon of water shadows and attacking waves.
The tub fills with floating bodies,
and the ears fill with bullets thumping flesh.
(After the War, the War)

Andrena Zawinski talks about integration and tells of 2 young schoolgirls, one black, one white, sharing candy.
Don’t do that the teacher whispered
like a secret, like a sin, words that traveled
from a playground of a schoolhouse long razed
in Pittsburgh all the way to Charleston
(Bittersweets for Camellia)

Several poets tackle the current economic woes in poems about job loss, foreclosure, and increased cost of living.
If I stretch a dollar far enough
George Washington looks like George Bush
(In Photoshop, Scott. T. Starbuck)

I realize finally I have no marketable skills.
Corporations, as it happens, leave orphaned words
on doorsteps
along with those who know how to shelter them
(Poem for a New Economy, Susan K. Stewart)

You can tell the nuevo pobre by their inability to stand in lines.
To sit on hold. To fill out the wrong forms three times.
(The New Poor, H. Edgar Hix)

There are poems about recent environmental events.
Barbara Crooker uses a quote from Kurt Vonnegut as an epigraph to her poem about the Gulf oil spill.
Dear future generations: Please accept our apologies.
We were rolling drunk on petroleum.

The wine- dark sea was slick with oil.
Pelicans struggled in the viscous surf,
foamy waves clotted with tar balls,
an obscene green sheen.
(Summer, 2010)

Scott Owens paints a clear picture of a 4 year old learning about marriage in his poem “Conjugal Rites.” First the child wants to marry her daddy, then her two brothers, and finally, “already thrice denied,” she asks if she can marry her best girlfriend.
Yes, of course, but only in some places,
only where love is not prescribed by law.

Many of the poems are openly political. Lawrence Kessenich writes about how even poetry can be dangerous in a world full of conspiracy and terrorism.
But then I think of Adnan in Basra, his poems
exploding like car bombs in the minds of his
conservative countrymen, his flight to London,
his exile in a world of poetry as pastime.
(Hazardous Materials)

In closing, I ask the many other poets to forgive me for not mentioning their work. This is an impressive anthology, one I have already returned to several times. I am proud to state that 2 of my poems are contained in this collection.

American Society: What Poets See

message 2: by Jen (new)

Jen (jppoetryreader) | 1568 comments Mod
This sounds like a fascinating anthology, Nina, quite varied within its broader theme. Congrats on being one of the poets included.

message 3: by Nina (new)

Nina | 1035 comments Thanks, Jen.

message 4: by Ellen (new)

Ellen Roberts Young | 169 comments This sounds like one to put on my to-read list. Can you tell us anything about the editor, David Chorlton?

message 5: by Nina (new)

Nina | 1035 comments Chorlton is an award-winning poet who has published chapbooks as well as a collection. he is the Poetry CoEditor of Future Cycle Press. Robert S. King, the co-editor, is also well-published and the former director of Future Cycle Press.

message 6: by S. (new)

S. (SarahJ) | 1481 comments Mod
Congrats on being included in what sounds like a rousing anthology. It's good too see such a book being published. Thanks a lot for your review. I'm interested.

message 7: by Nina (new)

Nina | 1035 comments Thanks

message 8: by D.A. (new)

D.A. Gray (EzraP) | 14 comments Nina, congratulations. I'm glad to see new poetry of witness emerge. Look forward to checking out the poems in this anthology, especially one that seems to address not only conflict but poverty and many of the issues where witness poetry can put a face.

message 9: by Diane (last edited Oct 24, 2012 04:45PM) (new)

Diane Kistner (dkistner1111) | 50 comments David Chorlton is co-editor of this anthology with Robert S. King (http://robertsking.com/). From October 25 to October 29, the Kindle editions of their books that FutureCycle Press published will be available free on Amazon, so go get 'em. And review 'em!

The Devil's Sonata, David Chorlton
The Porous Desert, David Chorlton
The Gravedigger's Roots, Robert S. King
The Hunted River, Robert S. King

The Kindle edition of American Society: What Poets See will be up on December 29 for free, along with all of our other ebooks. Just go to this link to pull them all up quickly: http://goo.gl/9mKWF

message 10: by FutureCycle (new)

FutureCycle Press (futurecyclepress) | 49 comments Actually, use this link instead: http://goo.gl/zjfy6

It sorts the free Kindle editions to the top. Robert and David's books are at the top now.

message 11: by Jen (new)

Jen (jppoetryreader) | 1568 comments Mod
Thanks for letting us know where we can get free kindle editions. And for providing the helpful links. Great to be able to go directly to the source!

message 12: by FutureCycle (new)

FutureCycle Press (futurecyclepress) | 49 comments You can also see what free promotions we are running by going to our web site, www.futurecycle.org. On the right-hand side at the top, you'll see link to our Goodreads Giveaways. Under the Free Kindle Days link, you'll see the current promotions we're running for our books. We'll try to have some kind of goodie always available!

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