Literarisches Events (in and around Lawrence KS)

  • PATRICIA LOCKWOOD. Lawrence. Thursday, September 11, 7:00 p.m., Spooner Hall, KU Campus.
  • PATRICIA LOCKWOOD. Lawrence. Friday, September 19, 7:00 p.m. Lawrence Public Library. Sponsored by Raven Bookstore.
  • DENNIS ETZEL, JR. & RACHEL CROSS. Lawrence. Thursday, September 25, 7:00 p.m., Raven Bookstore, 6 E. 7th St.
  • TONY TRIGILIO. Lawrence. Thursday, Oct. 2, 4:00 p.m., English Room, Kansas Union, KU Campus. FREE.
  • CALEB PUCKETT & JUSTIN RUNGE. Lawrence. Thursday, October 16, 7:00 p.m., Raven Bookstore, 6 E. 7th St.
  • BEN LERNER. Kansas City, MO. Thursday, October 23, 7:00 p.m., Epperson Auditorium, Vanderslice Hall on the KCAI campus, 4415 Warwick Blvd.
  • KRISTIN LOCKRIDGE & ROBERT DAY. Lawrence. Thursday, December 4, 7:00 p.m., Raven Bookstore, 6 E. 7th St.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Anthology or Notlogy?

As I prepare to order books for my poetry workshop next semester, I’m confronted by the perennial issue of whether or not to order an anthology. Marianne Moore argues in favor of anthologies thusly: “Academic feeling, or prejudice possibly, in favor of continuity and completeness is opposed to miscellany – to music programs, composite picture exhibitions, newspapers, magazines, and anthologies. Any zoo, aquarium, library, garden, or volume of letters, however, is an anthology and certain of these selected findings are highly satisfactory.” Just so. But likewise, “However expressive the content of an anthology, one notes that a yet more distinct unity is afforded in the unintentional portrait given, of the mind which brought the assembled integers together.” And, one might add, the historical moment in which that mind operated. The auteur and his/her times.

So, should I order an anthology? And if so, which? I’m seriously asking – that’s what the comments box is for.

To my mind, the contenders:
- American Poets of the 21st Century (Claudia Rankine and Lisa Sewell, eds.)
- American Hybrid (Cole Swenson and David St. John, eds.).
- Lyric Postmodernism (Reginald Shepherd, ed.)
- Postmodern American Poetry (Paul Hoover, ed.)

Each has its flaws, as has been pointed out in the BlogPoSphere. The first only covers 7 poets (but does so in gratifying detail – poems, poetic statement, essay by another poet/critic). American Hybrid – only 7 pages per poet – and lots of them – and lots of them are boring – and some less-good poems by the poets that aren’t. But it’s cheaper than the late R. Shepherd’s anthology – which had the misfortune to come out from an independent press the year before the A.H./W.W. Norton juggernaut appeared. And it does largely the same thing, in a little more detail – something between the previous two. It’s about 2/3 the size of A.H., but costs a couple of bucks more. Pomo Am. Poetry is great, but pretty dated at this point.

I also want to order books by individual authors. Here the problem is to avoid foisting my current reading habits (experimental multi-genre narratives, mostly; often large) on my students, who will be intermediate-level. But that’s another issue . . .


susan said...

I say foist, and--usually--avoid the anthologies. That said, I've returned this semester to Poems for the Millennium Vol. 1, which lacks in immediate relevance to my students, but which does two things well. Presents wonderful work, and presents it as part of a larger argument. Most anthologies don't make arguments, or not good ones.

a.k.a. "Joe" said...

Thanks, Susan. Yeah, I like vol. 2, as well. It is rather, well, big. It intimidates *me*. But, yes, you're right about its making an argument. And I like the selections of both the poets and the poems by those poets.

But maybe I should just stick to books by individual authors (or collaborations).

Unknown said...

First, an admission of Patriot Act tendencies: before I moved to China last year, I saw that you were assigning the American Poets of the 21st Century anthology for your course when I was at the bookstore, and I bought a copy of it to take with me to Maoland. This wasn't intended as surveillance, but rather as a practical response to the fact that you pick good things for people to read (at least, I always thought so, when I was your student).

As you say, I like the detail and variety of materials associated with each poet combined in that anthology more than any of the others on your list. I think it gives a context that's lacking in most anthologies. I think the CD is necessary, as well, to get an aural sense of the poems.

I wonder if you could make a course-pack that students could purchase at a printing store? You could use the 21st Century anthology, and then cobble together similar collections of materials for other poets you wish had been included in that work, get permission, and put them in a course-pack. I think you could then also have students buy some books by individual authors, since course-packs are cheap for students to purchase, whereas the individual works might not be. Course packs were my favorite form of materials in poetry courses during my B.A. and M.A.

a.k.a. "Joe" said...

Thanks, Ben - yeah, I think I'll probably use that one again + some books by individuals.

The course pack idea always sounds nice - but it always ends up sounding like a lot of work, too. And expensive, last time I checked - esp. if you're using anthology pieces.