ON FREEDOM'S SIDE: An Anthology of Poems of Protest by Aaron -- Ed. Kramer

ON FREEDOM'S SIDE: An Anthology of Poems of Protest

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Kramer has evidently done some digging to assemble these 160 examples of outcry against poverty, war, injustice, and racial discrimination. Though popular youth spokesmen such as Dylan or Lennon are notably absent, the selections span three centuries and represent the famous and the obscure, the serious poet and the pamphleteer. On the whole there is far more protest than poetry, though selections from Rukeyser, Levertov, cummings and others provide relief from the more strident voices. The section on slavery and racial injustice includes Whittier's well known poem beginning ""Gone, gone, -- sold and gone,"" Bryant's ""Slavery is a foul and monstrous idol. . ."" and Frances E. W. Harper's ""How say that by law we may torture and chase/ A woman whose crime is the hue of her face?"" Today's readers though will perhaps prefer Ray Durem's ""Award; A Gold Watch to the FBI Man who has followed me for 25 years,"" which begins ""Well, old spy/ looks like I/ led you down some pretty blind alleys"" and ends ""I admit I took a Negro child/ to a white rest room in Texas,/ but she was my daughter, only three,/ who had to pee."" Included too are speeches, letters, etc., unfortunately arranged by the editor in verse form (Vanzetti's eloquence doesn't need this artificiality and others less articulate shouldn't have to be judged as poetry) and several topical folk-type songs without the music. The point of all this is best stated by Robert Peterson in ""Dear America,"" which asks ""Who are you to ask me to be a statistic/ or a lizard? (No I won't shut up.).

Pub Date: Oct. 16th, 1972
Publisher: Macmillan