cover image On the Mesa: An Anthology of Bolinas Writing

On the Mesa: An Anthology of Bolinas Writing

Edited by Ben Estes and Joel Weihaus. The Song Cave, $20 (258p) ISBN 978-1-73403-517-9

This enlightening anthology collects the poems of writers who gathered around Bolinas, Calif., in the late 1960s and early ’70s. According Lytle Shaw’s afterword, this edition paints a “picture of one of the great countercultural experiments of the later 20th century, the poet-run town of Bolinas.” Poems like Bobbie Louise Hawkin’s “Rainbow” show the attention these poets turned toward the natural world and their efforts to meaningfully reconnect with it and each other: “watching a gull’s clean glide/ breathing moist air/ as if I breathed// your breath.” Other poems reimagine social conditions entirely, such as Diane Di Prima’s “Revolutionary Letter #9” which addresses the importance of experimentation: “or, let’s start with no money at all and invent it/ if we need it/ or, mimeograph it and everyone/ print as much as they want/ and see what happens.” This delightful compilation offers a rare and deep engagement with a culturally rich and unique moment in history, contextualizing an artistic community and introducing readers to new voices. (Apr.)