Stand Up Poetry: An Expanded Anthology

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Editorial Reviews

The New Yorker
The work assembled by the Southern Californian poet Charles Harper Webb in Stand Up Poetry: An Expanded Anthology isn't afraid to have a sense of humor. "Why I Want to Be the Next Poet Laureate," by Elliot Fried, mocks the establishment: "I want a frail consumptive woman, just a bit deranged, / waiting patiently in a dark room as I come home / after a hard day, flinging Guggenheim and Ford Foundation / grants onto the vacuumed shag. I want to write quatrains / for the sensitive." Webb's original anthology, subtitled "The Poetry of Los Angeles and Beyond," was published in 1990 and focused on locals. Here he opens the ranks to irreverent, crowd-pleasing Easterners like Billy Collins and James Tate -- writers he admires for creating "bizarre and outrageous alternative worlds."(Dana Goodyear)
Webb writes in his introduction: "Whatever the reasons, mainstream poetry has in the past fifteen years moved much closer to the Stand Up aesthetic." He defines Stand Up poems as ones that work well orally, are frequently characterized by a sense of humor, are sometimes irreverent and are "honest, unpretentious and strong." They're not anti-literary and are written for the printed page, so are not to be confused with performance/ slam poetry. Many of these poems, though, would be good performance pieces. The Beat poets were the precursors of this style. The poetry is also characterized by the use of "natural language," fanciful tone and the creation of bizarre worlds. The poems are infused with strong emotion, often have a narrative bent and reflect aspects of urban and popular culture. They are accessible rather than obscure. There are many poets represented in the collection. Some are well known, such as Billy Collins, Charles Bukowski and Pattiann Rogers; others, less so. But they mostly have strong voices and the poems hit with emotional force. Christopher Buckley's "Sleep Walk" is a nostalgic lament on teenage love in the '50s, with references to the music of the period: "...—and though we barely moved across/ the carpet to the Statues and "Blue Velvet," sparks/ stung our hands and pulled us into a world where/ you could get lost in no time...." Denise Duhamel in "Ego" recreates the feeling of incredible smallness a third grader might experience during an astronomy lesson with an orange, lemon and flashlight, her being "...merely a pinprick in one goosebump on the/ orange." Playful irreverence describes John Gilgun's "Ars Poetica," in which he pokes fun at what makes a good poem.Form varies from tightly constructed four-line stanzas to prose poems. Amy Gerstler's chilling prose poem, "An Unexpected Adventure," uses the cultural icon of Nancy Drew, always competent, who in a surprise twist is raped. This collection is an unexpected adventure. Not all the poems are funny but all present us with somewhat skewed perceptions of the world that are all too real. KLIATT Codes: SA—Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2002, Univ. of Iowa Press, 322p. index., Budin
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780877457954
  • Publisher: University of Iowa Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/2002
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 348
  • Sales rank: 1,201,462
  • Product dimensions: 5.75 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Table of Contents

Stand Up Poetry: An Update
For Desire 1
What the Dead Fear 2
Going to Norway 3
The Housewife 5
O That Summer 6
Evidently, She Says 7
Prayer 8
At 4:00 A.M. Asleep 9
Words for My Daughter 9
Bad Joke 12
Glass Dress 14
Blazon 16
I Eat Lunch with a Schizophrenic 17
Pygmy Headhunters and Killer Apes, My Lover and Me 18
Havana 19
English Flavors 22
No Sorry 23
Demographics 25
Money As Water 27
Return of the Prodigals 28
Chapter One 30
Allegory of the Supermarket 32
Agape 34
His Toys 36
Knock Knock 36
Sleep Walk 37
the tragedy of the leaves 39
trouble with spain 40
Some Terms in Real Estate Defined 42
Miss Congeniality 44
The Dead Letter Office 44
Toothache 45
Vanity, Wisconsin 45
How Lies Grow 46
white lady 47
wishes for sons 48
I Live for My Car 49
Chuck Man 50
Embrace 51
Another Reason Why I Don't Keep a Gun in the House 52
The History Teacher 53
Litany 54
Nightclub 55
Things My Grandfather Must Have Said 57
The Garglers 59
Style 60
Form Rejection Letter 61
Coke 63
Squeak 65
The Rules 67
The Hoagie Scam 68
Blessing the House 70
Pony Express 72
Confession 73
How to Like It 74
Ego 76
I'm Dealing with My Pain 77
Why, on a Bad Day, I Can Relate to the Manatee 78
Buddhist Barbie 79
On Hearing the Airlines Will Use a Psychological Profile to Catch Potential Skyjackers 80
At the Smithville Methodist Church 82
The Shame Place 84
The Retirement of the Elephant 85
The Automobile 86
Counting Sheep 87
The Categories 87
Good Son Jim 88
Ape 89
Elephant Tears 90
The Crumble-Knees 91
The White Dress 92
The Politics of Narrative: Why I Am a Poet 93
Body and Soul 96
The Bride of Frankenstein 99
The Dirty Floor 101
Open Sesame 102
Graffiti 102
Marvel Mystery Oil 103
Why I Want to Be the Next Poet Laureate 104
Wordsworth's Socks 105
Chain Mail 106
Deb at the Ham Slicer 107
Why I Left the Church 109
Chickens Everywhere 110
Vernon 111
Mi Mama, the Playgirl 112
Dear Boy George 113
Slowly I Open My Eyes (gangster soliloquy) 114
An Unexpected Adventure 115
Ars Poetica 116
Talking about Boys 118
The World in My Mother's Hair 119
Leash 120
Life Is Happy 121
The Sciences Sing a Lullabye 122
My Rodeo 123
Listen 124
I Like My Own Poems 127
The Case against Mist 129
Credentials 131
My Moral Life 132
Invention 134
Mr. Pillow 136
Beriberi 138
The Intelligence Quotient 140
Don't Cheapen Yourself 141
Beneath the Pole of Proud Raven 143
The Pope at 7:00 P.M. 146
Toltecs 148
Advice Like That 149
just squeeze 150
Memory 151
Man of the House 152
Song against Natural Selection 153
For the Sleepwalkers 154
Oh Mercy 155
My Country 156
Lawrence 157
The Collaboration 159
The Kiss 161
Sweep 162
Traitor 164
Good Humor 167
Soul Train 169
The Children's Book of Knowledge 171
Your Wife, a Widow, Waits for You 172
Things That Have Escaped Me 173
Acceptance Speech 176
I Think I Am Going to Call My Wife Paraguay 179
Amazed by Chekhov 181
The Dance of Husbands in Bathrobes 182
Nosebleed, Gold Digger, KGB, Henry James, Handshake 183
Coloring 185
All Suffering Comes from Attachment 186
What She Wanted 187
Foolish Earthlings 188
The Seven Dwarfs, Each on His Deathbed, Remember Snow White 189
Dear Superman 191
Lurid Confessions 192
I Attend a Poetry Reading 193
Hell 194
A Trick 195
The Laundromat 197
Dust 198
Fast Gas 199
2 A.M. 200
Tracy and Joe 202
Beer 204
Tap Dancing Lessons 206
The Leader of the Pack 207
Learning to See Crooked 208
Do you remember the scene in The Godfather where James Caan says, "Now make sure that the gun gets stashed in the rest room - I don't want my kid brother walking out of there with nothing but his dick in his hand"? 209
Letter to My Assailant 210
Fish I Remember 212
Why Life Is Worth Living 213
The People of the Other Village 215
Upon Seeing an Ultrasound Photo of an Unborn Child 216
So You Put the Dog to Sleep 217
Men with Small Heads 218
"I Love You Sweatheart" 219
Uncle Eggplant 220
The Bad Pilgrim Room 220
The Quiet World 221
Play It Again, Salmonella 222
Hazel Tells LaVerne 223
In Line at Pancho's Tacos 224
Why the Heart Never Develops Cancer 225
Fortune Cookies 226
Novel 228
Perfect Recall 230
Lightweight 232
Jake Addresses the World from the Garden 233
The Anti-Foucault Poem 234
My Philosophy 236
Saturday Morning Ultimatum 236
A Paranoid Egotist 236
Working at the Wholesale Curtain Showroom 237
Thanksgiving 238
Pocahontas 239
In Line at the Supermarket 240
The Bad Muse 242
The Sudden Appearance of a Monster at a Window 243
Justification of the Horned Lizard 244
The Dead Never Fight against Anything 246
Geocentric 248
To Raise the Blind on Purpose 249
Fiddleheads 250
Furious Cooking 252
Monkey House 254
Four Crows at Dusk 256
Honeybee upon the Tundra 258
A Philodendron Named Joan 260
What I Learned from the Movies 262
Drugstore Trolls 264
Revolt 265
All-Purpose Apology Poem 266
I Am a Finn 268
Aunt Sophie's Morning 269
How the Pope Is Chosen 270
Remedy for Backache 272
Natural Woman 272
Mistakes 273
Instructions to Her Next Husband 273
Naola Beauty Academy, New Orleans, 1945 274
History Lesson 275
Yvette Mimieux in Hit Lady 276
Double Trouble 277
What We Could Do 279
O Paradise 280
Curtain Call 281
Termination 282
The Stud 283
Sun Worshiper 284
At the St. Louis Institute of Music 285
A Hot Property 286
In a Pig's Eye 287
Constipation 288
The Singer 289
Marrying 290
Biblical Also-Rans 291
Amplified Dog 293
You Don't Want to Hear a Poem, Do You? 295
Black Slip 296
The Business of Love Is Cruelty 298
Chapped Lips 300
The Wreckers 301
The Philosophical Emancipation 303
Living with Others 304
The Way He'd Like It 305
The Same Air 306
Pastorale for Spring 308
Acknowledgments 309
Title Index 319
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