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THE OUTLAW BIBLE OF AMERICAN POETRY by Alan Kaufman

THE OUTLAW BIBLE OF AMERICAN POETRY

By Alan Kaufman

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 1-56025-236-7

paper 1-56025-227-8 Editor and self-proclaimed Outlaw poet Kaufman has gathered into a single volume the voices of more than two hundred “poets who don’t get taught in American poetry 101.” Here are the expected Jack Kerouac, Neal Cassady, Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, Kenneth Patchen, Diane DiPrima, Michael McClure, Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones), Ai, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti—all long accepted into the American poetry idiom. Along with them are more recent poets like Luis J. Rodriguez, Jimmy Santiago Baca, and Joy Harjo, who have earned significant standing for themselves even inside academia, as well as performance poets Marc Smith and Lisa Martinovic, who’ve garnered reputations only outside it. Anthologized along with these poets are activists Che Guevara and Abbie Hoffman; painter Jackson Pollock; and singer-songwriters Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie, Janis Joplin, and Jim Morrison. Notorious novelists Henry Miller and Norman Mailer make appearances, as do stand-up comedians Lenny Bruce and Richard Pryor. But the unknowns outnumber the knowns, and the knowns do not necessarily contribute their best work (Harjo’s “Two Horses” is a significant exception). Many prose pieces abound, as well as what only looks like poetry, and too much of what is collected here is a series of rants. The anthology is loosely organized—into sections like —Slammers,— —Barbarians,— —Meat Poets,— and —American Renegades——but without any apparent aesthetic beyond Kaufman’s claim that these Outlaw poets share “an unspoken objective: to get in your face and stay there.” The value of such a “bible” is questionable. And without better organization or at least an index, the collection remains an unwieldy hodgepodge. Navigating through the bulk of nearly a thousand pages is a chore simply not worth the effort.