The Pittsburgh Book of Contemporary American Poetry (Pitt Poetry Series)

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Because of the shrewd and sometimes visionary editing of the distinguished Pitt Series, reading this volume is like attending a very, very interesting party at which the guests have just enough in common to connect but just enough divergence to stimulate."--Booklist
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Overview

Because of the shrewd and sometimes visionary editing of the distinguished Pitt Series, reading this volume is like attending a very, very interesting party at which the guests have just enough in common to connect but just enough divergence to stimulate."--Booklist
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Published to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Pitt Poetry Series, this anthology does not give a full picture of what is perhaps the nation's most distinctive poetry publishing venture. Only 45 of the 101 writers the series has published are included, all with volumes currently in print ``in hopes that the reader will be motivated to buy and read the full-length collections. . . .'' Archibald Macleish, Shirley Kaufman and Michael S. Harper, three of the series' early luminaries, are absent. And, since Ochester replaced Paul Zimmer as editor in 1978, the majority of the series' in-print books are his selections. Ochester's preference for a poetry of commitment, devoid of trivialities, is clear. One reads the prison jottings of Etheridge Knight, Gary Soto's portraits of migrant workers, or Irene McKinney's pieces about the lives of coal miners, and realizes how heavily this anthology is weighted toward working-class views. Instead of pieces paying tribute to family members, we find Sharon Olds's horrific poems of traumas hinting at incest, or Maxine Scates's poems of a mother's desertion, a grandmother in the madhouse. Lorna Dee Cervantes, Toi Derricotte and others offer insights into the lives of families attempting to preserve their non-white roots. The majority of these poems are not lyrical, but none are prosaic either, and a surprising number of long poems are included. Oresick wrote Definitions. Author photos not seen by PW. (May)
Library Journal
In the 1970s, the ``Pitt Poetry'' series debuted some of today's best-known poets and set writing workshop trends. Commemorating the series' 25 years of existence, this analogy offers a sampling of work by 45 individuals whose books are currently in print--a decision that, regrettably, omits the press's finer out-of-print writers. In a curiously defensive introduction, the editors tout their selections as being ``as valid a cross-section of contemporary American poetry as we know,'' but the work overall is striking more for its similarity than for its variety, a surprise given the wonderfully diverse ethnicities of its creators. Though articulate and often vividly descriptive, too many of these poets seem intent on making conversation rather than poetry, choosing plain language, unambitious prosody, and mundane subjects. The seasoned voices (Etheridge Knight, Siv Cedering, Ted Kooser) ring clearly above the rest, but generally we are offered less of what poetry promises than of what we've learned lately to expect from it.-- Fred Muratori, Cornell Univ. Lib., Ithaca, N.Y.
Pat Monaghan
Uhhh-oh! one thinks when one sees a book that looks as if it were designed by a marketing committee. "Hey, it's the twenty-fifth anniversary of the poetry series," you imagine someone saying, "Why don't we bundle together a bunch of the authors and stick on covers and use it to promote the series?" Such a book shrieks "pseudo-event." But as editors Ochester and Oresick themselves say, "this book is more than just a commemorative volume." Because of the shrewd and sometimes visionary editing of the distinguished Pitt Series, reading this volume is like attending a very, very interesting party at which the guests have just enough in common to connect but just enough divergence to stimulate. There's the crisp narrative of Maggie Anderson, Robin Recker's hard-edged realism, Sharon Doubiago's peripatetic generosity. There are the lovely Amish family poems of Julia Kasdorf, and Gary Soto's breathy evocations of Hispanic solidarity. There's Toi Derricotte, Stuart Dybek, Sharon Olds, Alicia Ostriker, Jeffrey Skinner. It's a great gathering of Americans and a great gathering of poets--just what such an anthology should be.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780822937524
  • Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press
  • Publication date: 5/1/1993
  • Series: Pitt Poetry Series
  • Pages: 416
  • Product dimensions: 6.41 (w) x 9.34 (h) x 1.26 (d)

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