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LETTERS TO THE WORLD: Poems from the Wom-po Listserv Paperback – March 1, 2008
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The 259 contributing poets from 19 countries on 5 continents represented in this anthology combined their considerable gifts, talents, philosophies, and rich cultural heritages into an amazing blend of poetry and essays. Styles vary from quatrain, sonnet, formalist, and triolet to tanka, haiku, free verse, ekphrasis, and experimental.
This is an exceptional anthology, one to be savored slowly by poetry lovers everywhere. With a universal wisdom, tenderness and grace, these poets transcend the violence we see every day in the world around us. They are the Emily Dickinsons of their time, sending their messages to the world. To quote the Dickinson poem:
This is my letter to the world,
That never wrote to me.....
In this age of wars and cultural divisions, it's time the world listens and writes back in kind. That's what the Wom-Po listserv poets hope to accomplish with this anthology. Highly recommended.
And there are so many delights! There's quite a good deal of finely-wrought verse in traditional forms, highlights of which include of the rhymed quatrains of Rachel Dacus's "Femme au chapeau" and Jilly Dybka's "Lost Things," the sonnets of Marilyn Taylor and Christine Whittemore, and the grace of Ellen Goldstein's "Meadowbrook Sapphics," Ruth Foley's "Triolet for Eric," and Annie Finch's "Letter for Emily Dickinson."
Subjects of cancer and illness were sensitively handled by Jean Anaporte-Easton in "poem for the new year," Ann Neuser Lederer's "The Undifferentiated," and Susan Meyers's "Awaiting My Brother's Pathology Report..." These poems moved me deeply. I also loved Penelope Scambly Schott's meditation on aging, "April, Again."
Kimberly L. Becker's close observation in "The Fallen Apples," Catherine Daly's smart take on women's lingerie in "Of Hollywood," Annie Deppe's repeating film clip of "The Throat Singers," Kate Greenstreet's meditation on cows in "Lives of the Saints" were all mesmerizing. I loved the many tributes to other writers and artists, including David Graham's "Long Overdue Note...," Yerra Sugarman's "To Miklos Radnoti," and Braden Welborn's "Paradise Garden."
I was interested in how often Biblical or mythological themes kept appearing. Favorites among those include Kate Bernadette Benedict's "Sheela-na-gig," Kathleen Flenniken's "It's Not You, It's Me," Cynthia Roth's "The Sound of Love Failing," and Katha Pollit's "The Expulsion."
And I don't want to omit praise for poems by Molly Peacock, Ann Fisher-Wirth, Barbara Crooker, Jeanne Marie Beaumont, or the incredible poems transforming trauma into art by Wendy Taylor Carlisle and Ana Doina. All in all, this is a remarkable anthology.
Each day I open the book to where it falls and I read. Today my favorite is David Graham's wryly honest "Long Overdue Note to My College Professor Who Broke Down and Cried One Morning in 1974 While Teaching Yeats." But I think tomorrow it will be Ann Fisher-Wirth's "Blue Window" which wonders "will I have told the world/how I love this life I am forced to lose?" The coolest thing about this collection is that the poets selected the poem that would represent them--All the editors (heroes all) did was sort, stack, typeset, and organize--what a huge task (can you imagine organizing 267 poets?). The collection is a delight.