cover image American Poetry Since 1950: Innovators and Outsiders, an Anthology

American Poetry Since 1950: Innovators and Outsiders, an Anthology

. Marsilio Publishers, $19.95 (452pp) ISBN 978-0-941419-92-5

Gathering 35 poets, Weinberger ( Outside Stories ) claims he chose 1950 as his starting point because it was when Charles Olson's ``The Kingfishers'' appeared in a magazine--a choice as idiosyncratic as everything else in this hefty but insubstantial anthology. Olson's predecessors (Williams, Pound, H.D.) don't need inclusion in one more textbook. Many of his contemporaries (Levertov, Creeley, Duncan) have been similarly absorbed into the mainstream. And however much light Olson's work might shed on those who came later (Susan Howe, Clark Coolidge, Michael Palmer), the volume never achieves the ``hubbub of conversations'' its editor intended. Only John Cage, Langston Hughes and Muriel Rukeyser are presented in an unexpected context of experimental poetry. Weinberger keeps his introductory comments to a minimum, but his historical synopsis at book's end is another enigma. One moment he seems to be talking to a group of high school kids with comments such as ``the Hippies were the spiritual children of the Beats'' while the next moment he's addressing literary aesthetes familiar with the names of obscure writers and publications. And while this epilogue gives insights into the lives of the poets included, wouldn't insights into their work have been more valuable? (May)