Legitimate Dangers: American Poets of the New Century
How does one communicate the intersection of life and the imagination-its sources, questions and preoccupations? This anthology of new American poets variously, and more often than not, exquisitely explores this puzzle. Comprised of discordant voices-85, to be exact-from the gritty, near-confessional wordplay of Olena Kalytiak Davis and Paisley Rekdal to the terse experiments and mini-saga prose poems of Matthea Harvey and Joel Brouwer, this anthology uncaps the concerns of contemporary life, releasing vapors to mix with the contemporary imagination. (Or, life and imagination as perceived by poets under age 45 and with three or fewer books-for better or worse, the anthology's selection criteria). The imagination rests, as with as with Oni Buchanan's exploration of love-as-yak, or, in Carrie St. George Comer's poems, reels in memory. Other times, emboldened by language, the imagination ""weaves / the world together with a quicker blur of armed / seduction"" (Brenda Shaughnessy, ""Postfeminism""). Even the titles (compare Maurice Manning's ""On God"" to Timothy Donnelly's ""Twenty-Seven Props for a production of Eine Lebenszeit"") reveal the historical, philosophical and aesthetic sources of these poems that often speak to ""you,"" the ""Bare-faced, flint-hearted, recoilless / Reader"" (Olena Kalytiak Davis, ""sweet reader, flannelled and tulled""), inviting intimacy, assuming courage and requiring immersion in the moment.