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The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry Paperback – October 27, 1999


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 736 pages
  • Publisher: Thunder's Mouth Press (October 27, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1560252278
  • ISBN-13: 978-1560252276
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 5.8 x 1.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #225,050 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

The Beat sensibility is alive and ranting in this bulky, multigenerational anthology of work by those who follow the off-road literary paths of Whitman and Ginsberg. Id-driven, political, and sexually explicit, these poems speak in the vernacular of the street, touting oppositional art as a weapon against poverty, corporate capitalism, discrimination, and violence. The roster of poets has to be among the strangest gathered in one volume; progenitors like Kerouac, Baraka, diPrima, etc., are interleaved with youthful urban slammers and complemented by the likes of Tupac Shakur, Tom Waits, Richard Pryor, Karen Finley, Janis Joplin, Che Guevara, James Dean, and other pop icons. The spirit of the whole affair might best be summarized by Pedro Pietri's "Telephone booth number 542": "the only way/ i know how/ to wash dishes/ is by smashing them/ against the wall!" Though this collection holds some historical and documentary interest and a few harrowing moments courtesy of Sapphire and Gerry Gomez Pearlberg, many poems are by turns obvious, self-important, tedious, and indulgent--just like Open Mic Night down at the local tavern.
-Fred Muratori, Cornell Univ. Lib., Ithaca, NY
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews

paper 1-56025-227-8 Editor and self-proclaimed Outlaw poet Kaufman has gathered into a single volume the voices of more than two hundred ``poets who don't get taught in American poetry 101.'' Here are the expected Jack Kerouac, Neal Cassady, Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, Kenneth Patchen, Diane DiPrima, Michael McClure, Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones), Ai, and Lawrence Ferlinghettiall long accepted into the American poetry idiom. Along with them are more recent poets like Luis J. Rodriguez, Jimmy Santiago Baca, and Joy Harjo, who have earned significant standing for themselves even inside academia, as well as performance poets Marc Smith and Lisa Martinovic, who've garnered reputations only outside it. Anthologized along with these poets are activists Che Guevara and Abbie Hoffman; painter Jackson Pollock; and singer-songwriters Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie, Janis Joplin, and Jim Morrison. Notorious novelists Henry Miller and Norman Mailer make appearances, as do stand-up comedians Lenny Bruce and Richard Pryor. But the unknowns outnumber the knowns, and the knowns do not necessarily contribute their best work (Harjo's ``Two Horses'' is a significant exception). Many prose pieces abound, as well as what only looks like poetry, and too much of what is collected here is a series of rants. The anthology is loosely organizedinto sections like Slammers, Barbarians, Meat Poets, and American Renegadesbut without any apparent aesthetic beyond Kaufman's claim that these Outlaw poets share ``an unspoken objective: to get in your face and stay there.'' The value of such a ``bible'' is questionable. And without better organization or at least an index, the collection remains an unwieldy hodgepodge. Navigating through the bulk of nearly a thousand pages is a chore simply not worth the effort. -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

A good friend of mine gave me this book as a gift a few years ago.
"jesushowardchrist"
I have the good fortune to have a poem in this collection and congratulate all the poets who have contributed to this large, important body of work.
vytautas pliura
Great bathroom read except that you might find yourself "wanting" to go to the bathroom more often, just to read more.
S. V. King

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 12, 1999
Format: Paperback
The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry by Alan Kaufman is a brilliant anthology, maybe the greatest anthology of new American poetry I've ever read. Part of its genuis is that"Outlaw" breaks new ground, introducing poets unknown to the mainstream while showing how they belong to the Outlaw lineage begun by WC Williams and later the Beats. And I like the way "Outlaw" mixes up the poetry with mini-histories of poets live's and scenes and has lots of wild pictures of poets and motorcycles and cafes and what not. That's great. This book announces a new canon in Americn poetry, has the depth and insight to be taught in classrooms even, but I bet every dreaming kid too from New York to Wichita to LA is going to read this book as a manifesto of revolt and liberation and to get up and do something with your life, be a poet of life!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By D. Mom on June 8, 2007
Format: Paperback
Ordered as a birthday gift for my 34-year-old son whom I see about every six months. Did not give it to him until the car was packed and hugs were exchanged. Trip time was delayed and bigger hugs were exchanged. I am a devious mom and knew how to plan this if I wanted a good visit. Have received numerous emails and calls beginning with "Mom, you've got to hear/read this." Bought it for him, not for me. He gives it 5 stars as a "must read," and I give it 5 stars as a good gift for young adult poetry readers.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Erren Geraud Kelly on July 7, 2000
Format: Paperback
i met alan kaufman when he came to alexander book company in SF earlier this spring to promote the outlaw bible of american poetry. he was taking requests and selections from the book and his voice sounded like someone who fit the outlaw description, like someone who had lived and experienced the things he wrote... i loved the poems by bob kaufman, a beat poet icon and creator of the term "beatnik," his work is full of jazz, mysticism, and absurdism...the other beat luminaries, kerouac, ginsberg, and others are good too, but bob kaufman stands out, because he is the least known of the beat poets. I also enjoyed Jim Carroll's poems, he came to SF recently, and while i was unable to make his reading, i read his works, imagining that frail, dovelike, yet masterful voice, spellbinding me with his words...some of the poems here are filler, the book could've done without the james dean poem or the monologue by richard pryor, and while i like tupac as a rapper, he's only average as a poet...
overall, a very masterful work, this will show people that poetry is not confined to the stale, lifeless prison called "academia."
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By S. V. King on September 4, 2006
Format: Paperback
Great bathroom read except that you might find yourself "wanting" to go to the bathroom more often, just to read more. This is a fine sampling of off-the-beaten path poetry by poets that just aren't celebrated even in the most liberal of poetry classes. Some of the poems will stick with you years after you are exposed to it and others slip from your memory once you have spoken/read the last line. The poets and poems aren't logically organized but this is one book where it might be better to just flip the page, reading where it lands open.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By adead_poet@hotmail.com on January 9, 2000
Format: Paperback
This was a pretty good collection of poetry. about a third of it was really bad, about a third of it was okay, good poetry, but there was a third of it that was outstanding poetry. one problem i had was that many of the well-known great poets in this collection contributed work that definately wasn't their best. and i'm sure they left some out. but still, i'd say it definately needs to be in any poet's collection.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By "bipolarbarbie" on September 25, 2001
Format: Paperback
I found this book on accident and couldn't put it down for days. Anyone w/ an open mind and a love for poetry must read this book. Kaufman not only included some of the best radical poetry in america, but also goes through great pains to make sure the reader is educated on the authors and the poems back grounds.
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59 of 86 people found the following review helpful By M. Hori on February 14, 2004
Format: Paperback
I have mixed feelings about this collection of "outlaw" poets, because I live outside the U.S. and have lived in countryside China where the government really doesn't care if you live or die or spew green foam from both ends--meaning what? No safety nets like clinics with clean needles and not even a job at Macdonald's, or a flop in a salvation army cot but begging and starving to death and people stepping over your body as it blackens in the street. That's why so much of what these new outlaws say in their street poetry rings slightly hollow to me. (that's not to say that America doesn't mangle and murder its children, but there are--admittedly--a few more ledges to land on in the U.S. before one dives into societal hell.) And of course, among these outlaws is at least one college professor who is as much of an outlaw as my aunt is, and yet another who has a pretty good middle class house and a pension and a wife who indulges his writing the spare, misogynistic exercises he calls poems, and then there are the entertainers and recording artists like Bob Dylan who was never an outlaw to begin with and has made the fortune of record producers and record companies, not to mention his own. So who's kidding whom with this title? Granted, the book is seeded with fine--even great poems like Michael Lally's "My Life"--and legendary names like Bob Kaufman, Jack Hirschman and Woody Guthrie, but for every one of those poems and every one of those names there are a dozen from the posers and the wannabes--and yes, the cry-babies who want to point the finger at everyone but themselves and say a dirty word or two in the bargain to be "shocking" in a world that is now way past shock. That's why a great part of this book is a cookie-cutter yawn, not even as interesting as a midnight Veg-O-Matic commercial.Read more ›
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