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American Women Poets in the 21st Century: Where Lyric Meets Language (Wesleyan Poetry) Paperback – August 13, 2002

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

New poetry by Lucie Brock-Broido, Harryette Mullen, Ann Lauterbach, Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, Brenda Hillman, Jorie Graham and others is featured in American Women Poets of the 21st Century: Where Lyric Meets Language, a collection that explores how or whether gender influences contemporary poetry by women. The volume, edited by poets Claudia Rankine (Plot) and Juliana Spahr (Fuck You Aloha I Love You), includes a "poetic statement" by each of the 10 featured poets, in which she discusses aesthetics and identity, as well as a critical essay on each poet's work and a bibliography.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

At first, an anthology of women poets in the 21st century seems somewhat premature. But on analysis, the editors have made careful selections that reveal the direction lyric poetry is heading. Accomplished poets themselves, Rankine (English, Barnard Coll.) and Spahr (English, Univ. of Hawaii) believe that women are major contributors to innovation a key element in lyric poetry, which is characterized preeminently by the speaker's sharing his or her thoughts and feelings. Just as Sappho helped define the genre when it debuted in ancient Greece as a brief, personal song accompanied by the lyre, so the poets selected here among them Rae Armatrout, Mei-Mei Berssenbrugge, Jorie Graham, Barbara Guest, Susan Howe, and Harryette Mullen force us to redefine lyric poetry. In particular, their use of modernist techniques such as fragmentation, disjunction, parataxis, and run-ons and their rejection of confessional techniques and the personal singular voice allow these poets to create a new structure. Many of the resulting images are startling and unique, such as Ann Lauterbach's "lizard's billowing throat hiccups on a wall." Each poet is represented by several new poems, a critical essay, a brief biography, and a bibliography; in addition, the poets comment on their own work. This volume will be useful for academic libraries and larger public libraries with substantial literature and poetry collections. Nedra C. Evers, Sacramento P.L., CA
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Series: Wesleyan Poetry
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Wesleyan; 1st edition (August 13, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0819565474
  • ISBN-13: 978-0819565471
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,440,988 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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This book contains many important writers. That is the only thing it has to its credit. Here is the chief issue: rather than give you a large sample of each writer, the book offers you around 4 pages of poetry per writer and then 30+ pages of dense, dull criticism.

The going assumption of this book is that you need to read the opinions of critics at great length to gain anything from the source material. You're far better off to find a few books by these poets and read their actual work. You cannot possibly get a feel for this writers without a greater set of what they've actually written.

I call out the press and editor here for sheer stupidity. I think it's a reasonable assumption that a book classified as an anthology of poetry contains more poetry than meaningless criticism.
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Format: Paperback
This book presents the work of 10 important contemporary poets: Rae Armantrout, Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, Lucie Brock-Broido, Jorie Graham, Barbara Guest, Lyn Hejinian, Brenda Hillman, Susan Howe, Ann Lauterbach, and Harryette Mullen.

Each is represented by a sample of work, a brief poetics statement, and a critic's essay which provides context to readers new to the work.

In her introductory essay co-editor Juliana Spahr says this collection aims to begin a dialogue between the two often falsely separated poetries of Language poetry and lyric. "The unevenness of these two terms, one a social grouping and the other a genre, remains a sign of some dissonance even as critics often pit Language and lyricism against each other with straw-man models," she writes.

Rae Armantrout writes that her own poetry involves an equal counterweight of assertion and doubt. "It's a Cheshire poetics, one that points two ways then vanishes in the blur of what is seen and what is seeing, what can be known and what it is to know." Hank Lazer writes that Armantrout "gives us a typically lyrical moment, but that moment inevitably is tied to some counterbalancing skepticism, so that the moment becomes ironized or self-conflicted."

Susan Howe says, "I think a lot of my work is about breaking free. Starting free and being captured and breaking free again and being captured again." Ming Qian Ma writes that Howe's poetry demonstrates a bent to contrive a method, or countermethod, to break free from the language trap through a `productive violence' highly informed rather than random.
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