The books are produced with a minimum of pretense and let the poets speak for themselves.
The 170 writers in volume two of In Our Own Words represents thirty countries and four continents, and the texture created by such a diverse group is rich, if not always deep. The bulk of the writers hail from the USA, but a few come from as far afield as Ukraine and the Phillipines. Some moments are more rewarding than others, but the bar to acceptance in the manuscript was generally placed an inch or two above the head of the average naval gazing college seminar mouse.
One would expect that an anthology touting itself as being the “voice of a generation” would deal strictly with the “generational” themes, but in fact most of the poems are of a personal nature, tied together by little more than the age of the authors, all of whom were born between the years 1961 and 1982.
That a 39 year old from Sweden has that much in common with an 18 year old from Pasadina is doubtful, but a line had to be drawn somewhere, and so let a thousand flowers bloom. The contents are preceded by an editor’s foreward that doesn’t quite do justice to the level of work that follows – or his own remarkable success in ammassing such a list of writers.
In it, Mr. Weaver brackets his definition of Generation X (to be fair, he doesn’t actually use the expression, but the jacket is retardedly splattered with the letter) between “the excesses of the post-World War II baby boomers and the uncertainty of the future” and describes Generation X poetry as “reality, for the sake of reality."
Whoa, dude, like, that’s pretty deep, and thankfully the editor limits his linear thinking to half a page. Once the show is on the road, we are treated to some nice little lines, such as these from a Dane named Bo: “The flowers of Turkey drip in red bloom across Europe. / Northern Ireland turns opposite the light. / Tiananmen Square is an empty yawn, / The young Danish poets brush their teeth,/And Russia has lost its dentures. / I have nothing else to report."
But I do: “Two of the contributors to the In Our Own Voice anthologies read at the Globe Cafe in Prague on Novermber 9th (2000). Jeremy Hurewitz, of Think fame, will share his always interesting work, as will David Hill, an American poet who hosts a weekly poetry event in Budapest called Tea and Sympathy.
Hurewitz, who once described a profound experience of unkown origin as “a siesta with rain pecking out the window/ a Tuesday a boredom that stinks of capture,” will bring his symphonic stylings to the balcony of the globe and is not to be missed.
His expat compatriot from Hungary, Mr. Hill, who has published in such high-brow rags as the Literary Review in London, will also be heaving poetric pipe bombs leaving verbal vortexes in his wake, as befits a man who once noted with absolute clarity that “if life is a river, we’re screwed!” and asked the devil, when faced with a big choice, simply: “How Long Till The Weekend and What Have I Got In The Fridge."
Three days and a rancid jar of tatarska.