Meridian Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, Vol. 2
Sometimes a great poem risks losing its urgency when placed under a different context. This can occur in compilations featuring a diverse number of contributors. In fact, many works in the Meridian Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, Vol. 2, could very well have run this same risk. Each of the authors lending their works to this collection has a distinct background.
Yet, it may be noted that this collection has been put together quite thoughtfully in order to create a seamless flow between works. The proof lies in the use of multiple works from several authors instead of one work per author. This format creates continuity from one work to another. It is throughout this continuity that something greater than each piece forms. A connection with not just one work, but the collection itself.
“Tango with my Father”, by Marilyn Krepf is the first piece in this compilation. Here is the first example of how the use of successive works from one author creates a seamless flow from one poem to another. This poem reflects on the relationship between the author and her father, who has passed away. The piece shows a side of yearning for days past when the author and her father could interact:
“Come dance with me
I said to my father
And he put the tango record on.
Tell me which way
Do our legs go,
Which way does
The stillness move
When we push through it?”
Yet, it isn’t until the following piece, “Awakening," that we feel a deeper connection with the author’s hardship and yearning. It is in this piece the reader find outs in a less allegorical form of the author’s hardship:
“…but today, years later, his dying
became more separate yet more near.
I walked past a shop
With devices for the sick.
I saw him alone in his room,
Aware of his jutting bones on the white sheet,
His body in the parentheses of an IV bag,
His dying attached to his life.”
This particular format creates a deeper look and stronger connection with the author, but isolates the intimacy between reader and author down to one emotion. Not all of the consecutive works from an author recreate this. In other instances, themes from the author vary from one piece to the next. What binds the work in this case isn’t theme, but style in expression. This gives the reader an overall and in depth view of the poet.
A good example of this is Fredrick Zydek’s works, “Leejohn," “Learning to Grow Old,” and “Even the Bunch Grass Has Lovely Eyes." These three poems explore different themes and perceptions throughout Zydek’s life. In each of his works, the style of expression is reflective and pensive. The expression in each poem also binds them seamlessly despite the differences in themes:
…“He knew I would life him
From the display and press his
Nose against mine before I did.
What is there about puppy breath
That bonds us to them? It is that day
I choose to remember on this 25th
Anniversary of the day he passed
Back to the other side of the window”
The same reflective style of the author continues in the next work.
“Learning to Grow Old”
“…There is a ragged magic to aging.
The supple and the lame, the lithe
And the short-winded, like light
And shadow, share that one moment
When each becomes the other”
By the third poem, the reader has a clear idea of the poet's viewpoint and feelings.
“Even the Bunch Grass Has Lovely Eyes
“…Even the fish slip among their light and airy
names. The moon and sun see to that.
I am every reason they lived. That is true
For all things seen and unseen still singing.”
The most notable strength of this compilation is the arrangement of work. Interspersing consecutive works from one author with single works from different authors prevents montonony. It also creates a flow that introduces one author from the next seamlessly.
There is a piece by D.L. Foor, “More” (p. 21), which reads,
“…I am the splash of a classic painter
I am a celadon hue with all
its metallic dimensions seen,
A form not fully fixed in a rainbow,
But one held in the hands of a sculptor.
No longer a fragment of a larger work
I am the whole thing
And yet just a scratch in an etching.”
Foor’s last words describe this compilation. The sum of these works becomes greater than any particular piece. All of the works become one singular intangible feeling with each page turn. What is this intangible feeling? It is a sense that one isn’t simply looking into the hearts and minds of many poets, but of the hearts and minds of humanity as a whole.
The editors' work must be noted with regard to this compilation. The contributors in this collection come from diverse backgrounds and this diversity could have overshadowed some worthy pieces. However, the editors' avoided this risk and have put together a clear and compelling compilation.
Meridian Anthology of Contemporary Poetry Vol. 2, Phyliss L. Geller & Marilyn Krepf (editors), Phyliss L. Geller (publisher - Meridiananthology.com), ISBN: 0-9729014-2-6, pages: 104