Collected Poems

H. L. Mencken, Author, S. T. Joshi, Editor Hippocampus $15 (146p) ISBN 978-0-9824296-3-1
Only Mencken completists will be interested in reading this collection of the social critic's verse. As Mencken authority Joshi (H.L. Mencken on American Literature) observes in his introduction, Mencken himself was dissatisfied with most of the poems he produced. Joshi fails adequately to support his argument that ""the early writings of any author as important as Mencken deserve our attention for the hints they may offer of the great work to come."" Readers will search jingoistic and racist poems for such hints of greatness in vain (""Wu Ting Fang/You and Li Hung Chang/Are a pair of mighty mystifying chinks!""). Placing the editor's end notes adjacent to the individual poems to provide some context would have been preferable, but no amount of scholarly rejiggering can transform a poem about William Jennings Bryan with the line ""Oh! Willie Billy, your trail is hilly"" into something significant.
Reviewed on: 08/03/2009
Release date: 08/01/2009
The Best Books, Emailed Every Week
Tip Sheet!