EARTH, AIR, FIRE, AND WATER by Frances Monson -- Ed. McCullough


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Except for the publisher's designation, there is nothing to distinguish this collection of poetry from adult volumes. The themes are mature -- racism, sexuality, war protests, observations on industrial societies -- and the poets are technically sophisticated, mostly modern and male -- Padgett, Bly, Lowell, Berryman, Koch, Cruz, etc. -- many with beginnings in underground works. In offering their appraisals of modern life, they are often solemn, rarely stiff. From the rock scene come Dylan's ""Desolation Row"" and Brautigan's ""The Day They Busted the Grateful Dead."" Several black poets are particularly impressive: Leroi Jones (""Make some muscle, in your head, but/ use the muscle in yr heart"") and Ted Joans on Santa Claws (""IF THAT WHITE MOTHER HUBBARD COMES/ DOWN MY BLACK CHIMNEY DRAGGING HIS/ PLAYFUL BAG/ IF THAT RED SUITED FAGGOT STARTS HO HO/ HOING ON MY ROOFTOP/ . . . HE AND ME SHOW GONNA HAVE A BATTLING/ XMAS AND IT SHOW AINT GONNA BE/ WHITE""). Wallace Stevens' often anthologized ""Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird"" is followed by Tom Clarke's undisguised (and, incidentally, not very clever) scatological parody, ""Eleven Ways of Looking at ti Shit Bird."" There is also a sizable sampling from familiar artists: Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath, cummings, James Dickey, William Carlos Williams, Denise Levertov, Randall Jarrell, and an unexpected offering from picture-book-favorite Ruth Krauss. Brief Notes on the Poets are appended. Earth, Air, Fire, and Water -- elemental spirits.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1971
Publisher: Coward-McCann