As we come to the beginning of a new century, we find that the entire vista of modern poetry has dramatically changed. Poems for the Millennium captures the essence of that change, and unlike any anthology available today it reveals the revolutionary concepts at the very heart of contemporary poetry. International in its coverage, these volumes bring together the poets and poetry movements that radically altered the ways that art and language express the human condition. Volume 2 offers a dazzling chronicle of the second "great awakening" of experimental poetry in the twentieth century. Ranging from the period of World War II through the cold war to the onset of the twenty-first century, this volume presents two "galleries" of individual poets such as Holan, Olson, Rukeyser, Jabès, Celan, Mac Low, Pasolini, Bachmann, Finlay, Ginsberg, Adonis, Rich, U Tam'si, Baraka, Takahashi, Waldman, and Bei Dao. There are also samplings of local and international movements: the Beats, the Vienna Group, the Cobra poets and artists, the Arabic-language Tammuzi poets, the creators of a new "Concrete Poetry," the "postwar poets" of Japan, the Italian Novissimi and Avan-Guardia, the Chinese Misty Poets, and the North American Language Poets. In addition, an extended section is devoted to examples of the "art of the manifesto" and two smaller groupings of traditional "oral poets" and of experimenters with machine art and cyberpoetics. Poet-editors Jerome Rothenberg and Pierre Joris provide informative and irreverent commentaries throughout. They challenge old truths and propose alternative directions, in the tradition of the manifestos that have marked the art and poetry of the twentieth century. The result is both an essential resource for experiencing the full range of contemporary poetic possibilities and an arresting statement on the future of poetry in the millennium ahead.
This invaluable collection, rather than gathering the most fully realized poetry of this century's first four decades, maps poetic possibility, thus demonstrating how poetry was literally remade during this period. A section of ``forerunners'' traces the revolutionizing of poetic intuition from Blake to Lautramont. Italian and Russian Futurism's typographical experiments, best seen through the ``manifestos'' are faithfully rendered; Dada and Surrealism are correctly treated as separate movements with differing aims. Aim Csaire's term Negritude defines a section of Black Francophone literature clearly influenced by Surrealism, but centered on its African and Caribbean beginnings. Three long ``galleries,'' collecting poems not necessarily related by nationality or subject matter, are interspersed among the sections of explicit poetic movements. Commentaries, many on individual poetsC.P. Cavafy, Gertrude Stein, William Carlos Williams, Osip Mandelstam and Pablo Neruda among themand often in the poets' own words, give context to the unwieldy mass of these poems, many difficult to find in English. The next volume promises to show the use to which today's poets have put this rich legacy. (Nov.)
Any anthology of this size857 pages in its prepublication formnecessarily disarms criticism. How can anything coherent be said about hundreds of poets and a thousand poems? Drawing for this second volume (see LJ 10/1/95 for a review of the first) upon poets as familiar as Anne Sexton and Robert Duncan but also upon translations from the Japanese and Greek, the textual art of Tom Phillips, and the lyrics of Tom Waits, editors Rothenberg and Joris want not so much to make one statement through the voices of many poets as to pass along the overheard fragments of the endless poetic conversations of this century. Because so much that is considered essential in modern poetry is excludedthere is no Ashbery, no Heaney, no Plath, to name a few-this anthology should not be any reader's introduction to the art. But the editors' introduction, and many learned notes on the poets, full of principled, anti-traditionalist, postmodern statements, are both entertaining and provocative and certain to exert an influence on young poets. For larger collections of contemporary literature.Graham Christian, Andover-Harvard Theological Lib., Cambridge, MA
Rothenberg and Joris have performed a heroic service to poets and poetry....For the reader of poetry, here is both archive and visionary adventure. -- Adrienne Rich
Jerome Rothenberg is a poet and one of the world's leading anthologists. His more than fifty books include Technicians of the Sacred: A Range of Poetries from Africa, America, Asia, Europe and Oceania (California, 1985). He is Professor of Visual Arts and Literature at the University of California, San Diego. Pierre Joris is a poet and has published over twenty books and chapbooks of poetry as well as many anthologies and translations. He is Professor of English at the State University of New York, Albany.