Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Inside The Outside: An Anthology of Avant-Garde American Poets. ( Presa Press PO BOX 792 Rockford, MI 49341) Editor: Roseanne Ritzema. Contributing Editors: Hugh Fox, Eric Greinke, and Harry Smith. $29.95

I just received my contributor’s copy of “Inside the Outside…” from the folks at the Presa Press. Roseanne Ritzema, the editor of this collection of avant-garde poets writes in her introduction:

“Every years or so, an anthology is produced which marks an epoch. “The New American Poetry,” (ed. Donald Allen) appeared in 1960. The poets gathered in this volume represent the major schools of the American literary avant-garde as it has developed over the past 50 years…

If a poetry reader seeks the avant-garde, he will have difficulty finding it on bookstore shelves, which are filled with the old boys of the upper class New England literary mafia, imitators of their parents’ generation of post-war poets... The establishment turns a cold shoulder toward the children of Whitman, Dickinson, and Poe, but the joke is on them….

This volume brings together 13 major poets of the American small press scene, each representing an important branch of the avant-garde as it has developed over the past 50 years. In most cases, the poems were selected by the poets themselves.”

I am thrilled to be included in this anthology of poets I’ve heard about and read for many years. The book includes many legendary small press poets, many of whom founded their own small presses, and magazines. On these pages you will find the poetry of Richard Morris, Lyn Lifshin, A.D. Winans, Lynne Savitt, Richard Kostelantz, Hugh Fox, and others…

Each poet has a section, and each section has a sort of description of their work. For instance in the Hugh Fox section it reads: “It achieves universality through the representation of personal experiences combined with public/cultural images to present the poet as an everyman…” And in the poem “from Eternity,” this description is very apt:

….the pigeons/sailing off the top of/ the red brick warehouse/ in the oblique almost-winter/ late afternoon sun, white/ ceramic tile, green-painted/ steel copper cornices and/
balustrades, one apartment/ house with the west side/ curved all the way down,/probably living rooms, Margaret 25, Rebecca 3/months, Bernadette 49. Chris/
16, me 66, the nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first/ centuries closing in/ around me.”

With Harry Smith the description reads: “…He believes that poets have the primary responsibility for the description of history.” And in “Me, the People,” Smith tackles the starving masses yearning to breathe free:

“Me the people had enough. Out of the gorge of city
This glittering Bicentennial I come,
Fat&discontent after my feasty Christmastide,
down to dark, stilled docks trimmed with Yule electric glit
at grayday unseen sundown and watch the steel
dusk deepening across my home harbor
most fabulous and most dreamed—

My lady of liberty
Seen everywhere, beckoning…

And Lynne Savitt: “Uses a stream-of-consciousness approach combined with run-on lines to evoke innerpersonal &interpersonal relationships. And here is a signature Savitt piece, hot and to the point like a red poker:


my friend Leo says
it’s okay to get
old & fat
to be remembered
as a blonde
dream carrying a rose
a pink velvet
ass bent over
a car fender
a warm mouth
wet as the tropics
all you need
to write, he says,
is the memory
he continues through
the phone wire
as you put yr
fingers under
the elastic of my
mauve lace panties
memory blazes
poems poems poems

Go to for this and many other fine books.

Doug Holder/ Ibbetson Update

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