Unsettling America: An Anthology of Contemporary Multicultural Poetry

Marua Mazziotti Gillan, Author, Maria Mazziotti Gillan, Author, Jennifer Gillan, Editor
Marua Mazziotti Gillan, Author, Maria Mazziotti Gillan, Author, Jennifer Gillan, Editor Penguin Books $18 (432p) ISBN 978-0-14-023778-8
Reviewed on: 10/31/1994
Release date: 11/01/1994
Prebound-Other - 978-0-606-19229-3
Prebound-Glued - 406 pages - 978-0-7857-5744-3
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Aptly titled, this substantial anthology provides exposure to poets, emerging and established-Louis Simpson, Rita Dove, Luis Rodriguez-who write directly from the immigrant, ethnic and/or religious experience. The collection gives evidence of inequality and discrimination, and offers eyewitness accounts of the gross inconsistencies and bigotry of America. The poems tap into visceral energies, either born of or becoming a vitalizing anger; they bristle with a recognition of failed expectations. Thoughtful and attentive, the mother/daughter editorial team of the Gillans divides the book into sections concerned with ``uprooting,'' ``performing,'' ``naming,'' ``negotiating'' and, finally and hopefully, ``re-envisioning.'' The most moving poems concern a loss of home and custom, and the compromises struck in order to make life tolerable in a quietly (and not so quietly) intolerant society. Also distressing is work describing the intense desire of some poets to assimilate-efforts later remembered as humiliating. This collection is a must for anyone seeking an inclusive, unwincing catalogue of the American experience. (Nov.)
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