Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Worst Anthology Ever?

Have any of you seen this anthology with the dangerous, dangerous title: Short Fuse: A Global Anthology of New Fusion Poets? It’s got to be the worst anthology in... well, you decide. The cover sports what looks like a mob of pissed-off Wobblies raising books in the air—presumably of “fusion poetry”—in what I assume is a march upon the ivory towers of academia… or something. This militant air of faux rebelliousness foresees its contents. One might reasonably ask what (besides putrid verse) is being “fused” by this newly-invented school of “fusion poets?” Well, according to the introduction it’s two things: a) slam poets and “flat” poets; and b) the international anglophone poetry community. Let’s pause a moment to snark both of these endeavors, shall we?

Reading it, I wondered how this anthology could be so truly, odiously bad until I read the introduction and realized that half of the wankers I had been perusing were slam poets being put into print. Big names like Bob Holman get slapped together with nobodies, and you know what?—it’s impossible to tell the difference. Bob Holman is a big, NYC-class hack. He has a tin ear and an adolescent's sense of metaphor. Think bad prose with line breaks meant to be read loudly to dumb, upper-middle-class hipsters. And to have to actually READ these things instead of hear him shout them at you while you are at least drunk (you hope) is a nauseating experience. Here's what he says of himself in the anthology's bio: “Bob Holman has been a central figure (as anthologist, apologist, emcee, and impreario) in the reemergence of poetry in contemporary English-language culture.” I kid you not. If this is poetry’s “reemergence,” then somebody kick it’s scrawny ass hard enough to make it crawl back into whatever hole it was in before Holeman came along. Let it die in peace. And more importantly, quiet.

But what I’m really wondering is who came up with this term: “flat poets." Is this a coinage of these editors (Todd “not so” Swift and Philip “like the other anthology” Norton)? Or is ol’ Snark so out-of-the-loop that I don’t know that this is a widely-used coinage? Hacks like Holman and his band of East Village syncophants don't deserve to be read—and the notion that their "work" makes other poetry look flat by comparison would be funny if they were kidding. They're not. Somebody pinch me and tell me to wake up. Or at least tell me in the comments section of this post that people don’t actually use the term “flat poets” at the Bowery Poetry Club or wherever these carrion feeders roost.

Then there’s this fusion of the “anglophone poetry community." To which I say: what fucking community? Bringing together English-language poets from across the pond? Right. Like that’s really going to happen. American poets don’t give a flying fuck about British poets (the reverse may also be true; I have no idea). Some have a residual respect for the Irish, but contemporary British poets aren’t even on the map over here. So you have some guy named Simon Armitage who sells books like a popular novelist? Never read him. Does he suck as bad as Billy Collins? And Canadian poets? We’re about as impressed by Canadian poets as we are by Canadian movies. Or painters. Or beer. (etc.) Don't believe this “Anglophone community” thing. But pick up Short Fuse: A Global Anthology of New Fusion Poets—don’t buy it! But pick it up sometime at the store and read a few pages. Then come back here and tell me if I'm not right.


Blogger R.C. Bald said...

Having not perused said anthology, dear friends, I find myself at a distinct factual disadvantage in terms of the precision of my rhetoric, surely. However, let it be known that in my seventy-two years I have witnessed the flaming arc of poetics, from its downy confessions of the midcentury to its meta-fascinations & onwards to its current diaspora of sophomorisms & injoke surrealism, but in all of its petty incarnations, never, friends, never has it flailed about & so miserably failed as it does in the form of slam poetry. If Keats be flat, then so shall it be! I'd rather his music than the dribble that poors out of a slam poet's mouth like slobber from the budding lips of a baby, as conscious an act, as miserable to notice. I, dear friends, am an avid proponent of the extended metaphor, but the very conceit is defiled, debased & left for dead under the chassie as it were of some jalopy roadside. Dear me, such hideous verse & coupled all too often with such atrocious sense of rhythm. I've a new idea for Mssrs. Norton & Swift: perhaps vacuum-drying the fecal remnants of pound kittens & then pasting them onto the pages of an anthology might better serve your purpose. But then, friends, I am an old man, yes, yes, so what do I know of it?

6:56 AM, May 25, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This post is outrageous and xenophobic. Typical of many Americans, I fear. Maybe if you opened your eyes, you would see what poetry from the U.K. has to offer.

8:34 PM, May 25, 2005  
Blogger Ginger Pennebaker said...

I say,

"Fuck the police."

But it fits better in the NWA track than the stupid poem I heard some hippie activist perform at some slam-poet Shin-DIG. Went something like this...

"Yeah, and, fuck
tha PO-leece,
I'm not your
DON-key, little peace-
girl HON-key, I'm
anar-CHISM in its
elemen-TISM, waiting for a
all over the

(mild applause)

2:19 PM, May 27, 2005  
Anonymous Came Back To Say said...


11:25 PM, June 24, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's the difference between American beer and sex in a canoe?

Nothing. They're both fucking near water.

Drink Moosehead. Let your eyes fall upon the group of seven. And open your ears to the poetry north of the border.

By the way. The Snark has lost its snark as of late. Are you guys getting laid now?

I quite enjoyed all of the refused backseat advances that translated into some great snark. However, I think you guys are less sexually frustrated now? Poetry snark nerds getting laid? Good for you!

Enjoy it while you have the money. Then its back to sitting at home on Saturday nights.

9:55 AM, July 27, 2005  

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