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American Hybrid: A Norton Anthology of New…

American Hybrid: A Norton Anthology of New Poetry (2009)

by David St. John

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Make no mistake: there are some truly compelling poets in this anthology. Among my favorites were Mei-Mei Brussenbruge, Rae Armantrout, Dean Young, Bin Ramke, the Waldrops, and Jennifer Moxley. But after having anticipated reading the anthology for so long, I found its methodology disappointing. For one thing, the arrangement of the poets in alphabetical order gives no sense of historical development or intertextual relationship. Nor do the brief bios of each poet help. In fact, the pretentiousness of those bios became an exercise in frustration for me only a third of the way through the anthology, after which it became simply laughable.

Another complaint, the decision to include only poets with three published books necessarily excludes a whole host of exciting, innovative young poets that would fit the "hybrid" impulse the anthologists are looking to illuminate, including Noah Eli Gordon, Donna Stonecipher, Ada Limón, and Joe Wenderoth, to name a few. Finally, I found it astounding that there was not a single Latino poet in an anthology that obviously had ethnic diversity as one of its implicit, if not explicit, selection criteria. No Juan Felipe Herrera, Francisco X. Alarcón, Lorna Dee Cervantes? Really? ( )
  jalbacutler | Jan 10, 2017 |
Ho-ly shit, am I glad I'm done with this.I'm hardly a connoisseur of poetry. Off the top of my head, I cannot tell you the difference between free verse and blank verse. I don't know the romantics, and I've no real idea what the New York school is. I've taken literature courses, but not poetry courses. My high school English teachers, year after year, worked hard to inform me that I just didn't get it.But I love it.Oddly enough.The poetry I like is filled with things I wish I would have said- beautiful metaphors and simple one-liners. I like verses that are coherent and personal, lyrical and simple. I may not know poetry in any intellectual sense, but I do know what I like.And it isn't this.This collection was sheer torture. I committed myself to an anthology of this magnitude because, I told myself, even if some of the poems were not to my liking, they'd be over soon enough. Much to my dismay, a dismay punctuated by many Gob-from-Arrested-Development-ish "oh, come on!"s, there were almost no poems that resonated with me in any way. And I tried. I tried and tried until the trying lobe of my brain imploded and completely ruined the shape of my head.These poets must be good, otherwise they wouldn't all have coveted English chair positions and fellowships and grants and awards. Their stuff just wasn't for me (...or they could all be hacks, which is what I really think). I was thrown off throughout the entire text by the editors' introductions. In my opinion, a reader should be able to pick up on the style and themes present in writing. If it isn't discernible, then it probably isn't there. While this is the standard for anthologies, it was distracting and I couldn't help but feel that the editors were trying to compensate for such a poor collection by making the reader think that what they were about to ingest was something good. I also didn't like that the poets were presented in alphabetical order. Again, run-of-the-mill anthology behavior. However, I think a better way to organize it would have been to put the good poets towards the front and the boring ones after. Coincidentally, this organizational scheme would have you opening right to the Rrrrrrrrs.Claudia Rankine writes in what appear to be prose paragraphs. Her contributions were mostly political and focused on civil rights. In addition, her poems came with pictures. This made her section all the more interesting. Really good stuff. I felt like what she was saying mattered.Martha Ronk wrote some gorgeous lyrical stuff. It was observational for the most part, which is always good in my book. I'd much rather read about someone's day than whatever John Ashbery was talking about on page 23.Mary Ruefle's contributions were extremely personal and conversational. Her brief lines were widely spaced and made good use of the page. I loved them more than just a friend.I give the above three poets five stars each, and an extra one to divide amongst themselves. To the rest of you, be happy with what you've got, for I'm not sure you deserved even that. ( )
  anoceandrowning | Jan 21, 2010 |
American Hybrid culls a wide range of subject matter, as I suppose any good anthology should. Admittedly, I'm not a fan of the more experimental, in art or literature, but as someone beginning to get comfortable with the moniker of "poet" I wanted to learn more of the current world of poetry. Since this book stirred up a buzz when released, I thought this would be a good place to explore a larger evolving movement.

Some of the more experimental poems in this book lost me, and some I must add just never had me. I didn't get it. It didn't feel like poetry to me. I'm not one of those folks who needs meter or rhyme to make it a poem, but, like pornography, I know it when I see it (or hear it). That said, there were poems here I enjoyed. Some I didn't get, but I still left them with satisfaction. Ultimately, though , it did what a good anthology does best: it introduced me to some talented writers doing interesting things. Worth a look, and worth finishing. Don't give up on it just because you feel a little lost. Skip around between poets. Open to a random page. There is plenty of great poetry here. ( )
  plenilune | Jan 20, 2010 |
This anthology caused me to buy no less than 10 new volumes of poetry. ( )
  RachelWeaver | Nov 23, 2009 |
This anthology caused me to buy no less than 10 new volumes of poetry. ( )
  RachelWeaver | Nov 20, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0393333752, Paperback)

This spirited anthology of contemporary American poetry focuses on the new poem--the hybrid--a synthesis of traditional and experimental styles.

As Cole Swensen argues in the introduction to this comprehensive new anthology, the long-acknowledged "fundamental division" between experimental and traditional is disappearing in American poetry in favor of hybrid approaches that blend trends from accessible lyricism to linguistic exploration. The focus in American Hybrid is on the blend; the more than seventy poets featured here--including Jorie Graham, Albert Goldbarth, and Lyn Hejinian--have found new and often unique ways to reconfigure the innumerable and sometimes conflicting voices of the past thirty years. The editors have crafted short introductory essays on each of the poets in the anthology, providing biographical backgrounds and positioning them within the current of contemporary poetry. This new anthology is essential reading for those who care about the present moment--and the future--of American verse. 3

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:38 -0400)

Incorporates traditional and experimental styles from the works of more than seventy poets, and includes biographical information and introductory essays on the evolution of the hybrid style.

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