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.
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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.
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