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American Society: What Poets See Paperback – August 30, 2012
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The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
About the Author
Featured Poets: Austin Alexis, Gilbert Allen, Jennifer Arin, Kate Bernadette Benedict, Nina Bennett, Kevin Brown, Melissa Carl, David Chorlton, Alex Cigale, James Cihlar, Jim Clark, Kelly Clayton, Chella Courington, Barbara Crooker, J. P. Dancing Bear, Erica Dawson, Diane Elayne Dees, Anthony DiMatteo, David Ebenbach, Alan Elyshevitz, Margot Farrington, Rupert Fike, Alissa Fleck, Barbara Gabriel, Bill Glose, Les Gottesman, Michael Gregory, Lois Marie Harrod, Michelle Hartman, M. Ayodele Heath, Kathleen Hellen, Terry Hensel, Graham Hillard, H. Edgar Hix, Karen Paul Holmes, Paul Hostovsky, Joseph Hutchison, Jason Irwin, Roshanda Johnson, Lawrence Kessenich, Alan King, Robert S. King, John Laue, Sean Lause, Brenda Kay Ledford, Laura LeHew, Jean Thurston Liebert, Andrew Shattuck McBride, Jim McGarrah, Deborah Mashibini, Nancy Carol Moody, Janell Moon, George Northrup, Scott Owens, Judith Pacht, Christina Pacosz, Lee Passarella, Garth Pavell, Joel Peckham, Diana Pinckney, Kenneth Pobo, David Radavich, M. S. Rooney, Linwood Rumney, Tina Schumann, Eric Paul Shaffer, Marian Kaplun Shapiro, Michael Shorb, Nancy Simpson, Ron Singer, J. D. Smith, M. R. Smith, Laura L. Snyder, The Poet Spiel, Scott T. Starbuck, Carol Steinhagen, Susan K. Stewart, Julie Stuckey, Wally Swist, Judith Terzi, Mark Thalman, Charles Thielman, Alice Toporoff Wallace, Connie Walle, Ed Werstein, Dan Wilcox, Christopher Woods, Marianne Worthington, Andrena Zawinski
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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
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.
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.
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.