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Drive, They Said: Poems about Americans and Their Cars

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What icon better defines America's experiences, dreams, foibles, escapes, and obsessions than the automobile? And what experience more perfectly captures the American spirit - moving on, westering, wandering - than driving? In this anthology, editor Kurt Brown collects the best of the innumerable poems that have made driving their emblem during the century known as the Automobile Age. Poems from nearly one hundred contemporary writers are gathered in this hommage to America's obsession with the automobile, ...
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Overview

What icon better defines America's experiences, dreams, foibles, escapes, and obsessions than the automobile? And what experience more perfectly captures the American spirit - moving on, westering, wandering - than driving? In this anthology, editor Kurt Brown collects the best of the innumerable poems that have made driving their emblem during the century known as the Automobile Age. Poems from nearly one hundred contemporary writers are gathered in this hommage to America's obsession with the automobile, including Elizabeth Bishop, Robert Bly, Rosellen Brown, Hayden Carruth, Rita Dove, Joy Harjo, and Thomas McGrath. The anthology's sections define driving as "the rolling forward toward the future" for both men and women; the meditative aspects of driving into the self; the experience of stopping by the side of the road as we rush wildly across the map; the crossing of destinies; the allegories of life itself.
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Editorial Reviews

Jenny Van West
If you are passionate about driving, cars, love, and motion in general--even if you hated poetry in the eighth grade--you may well find yourself hooked by this thoroughly entertaining and soul-satisfying collection. "Some may think....driving an unfit subject for poetry. This anthology is not for them," writes Kurt Brown in the introduction and how right he is. Whatever it is about driving that tends to focus our attention or melt it away, this collection neatly captures those qualities.

The subjects of the poems range from grief ("I can grieve anything / driving these two-lane roads," writes Deborah Digges in "Mimosa") to speed ("driving you through Death Valley's venom and thorns in your / lipstick red Spitfire convertible through nothing / but dead sea and occasional towns" writes Beth Houston in "Exodus"), prayer ("Later they got down and prayed / like a lot of folks on I-80 / coming through that pass...." writes Barbara M. Smith in "Interstate 80") to police ("Your speedometer won't stay steady..../You would like to tell him / where he can go shine his leather," writes Peter Sears in "When the Big Blue Light Comes a Whirling up Behind.")

Perhaps the most pervasive subject in the book is the freedom availed to us by driving, whether in moving toward something pleasurable, or away from something painful, or just feeling free to think, as Alicia Ostriker writes in "While Driving North: "...when I drive alone / it is the only time / my mind is entirely free...."
&#151:Greasergrrls.com
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Skip the editor's introduction, even though it does establish context (``Driving, then--relentless, continual, necessary, rolling motion--became such a universal experience in our century it was inevitable that it would find permanent expression in American poetry''), and just dive into this fabulous collection. Start anywhere--with sections on ``Men in Cars,'' ``Women in Cars,'' ``Driving into Yourself,'' ``Stopping by the Side of the Road,'' ``Driving as Metaphor,'' and ``On the Bus,'' the reader is treated to a wild ride with 98 poets who know their cars, know their roads and know how to write. Look for James Tate's ``In the Realm of the Ignition'' (``There is an X on this window, / Almost exquisite, the slight madness, / kiss and forgiveness''); Martha McFerren's ``Leaving in 1927'' (``You're very frightened. / You feel so good''); Joyce Carol Oates's ``Night Driving'' (``you love the enormous trucks floating in spray''); Stephen Dunn's ``Truck Stop: Minnesota'' (``I'm tempted to come back at her / with java /but I say coffee , politely''); Derek Walcott's ``Upstate'' (``Sometimes I feel sometimes / the Muse is leaving, the Muse is leaving America'')--these are just some of the rewards. For more than 300 pages, the volume consistently delivers the poetic goods; it's a continuously engaging collection of Americana, poetic reverie, and flat-out, high-octane good times. It will make you wonder, as in Howard Nemerov's ``Fugue,'' ``Was there never a world where people just sat still?'' (May)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780915943906
  • Publisher: Milkweed Editions
  • Publication date: 5/1/1994
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 300
  • Product dimensions: 6.03 (w) x 9.01 (h) x 1.02 (d)

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2002

    A classic variety of major and minor poets!

    An excellent anthology expanding upon the American landscape and love of cars!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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