Meridian Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, Vol. 3
Phyliss L. Geller and Marilyn Krepf are back with a third installment of the well-crafted Meridian Anthology of Contemporary Poetry. The volume displays the editors' strong ability to create a solid representation of the human spirit through the art of poetry. But what’s impressive in this anthology is the editors' unwillingness to use such ability to play it safe. This volume is definitely bolder than its predecessor. For one, the number of writers has increased. However, the reader may not feel overwhelmed by the large number of works. Much of the same techniques in editing that proved so successful in the previous anthology are employed here as well, mainly, the careful placing of works to create seamless continuity.
The poets are a mix of published veterans and emerging, but accomplished, artists from the U.S., Canada, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Egypt. The themes are varied as expected from such an eclectic mix of writers with varied lifestyles and backgrounds. However, the appearance of Pulitzer Prize winner and National Book Award winner Philip Levine, while thoroughly enjoyable, is a little puzzling. While his inclusion serves as an introduction to readers previously unaware of his work, overall the anthology is no better off.
Which brings us back to the collection itself. There are plenty of gems in this anthology that speak of the human spirit, as well as the spirit of writing itself as with the piece from returning contributing writer, Fredrick Zydeck, titled, “Letter to Blaski from Brunswick”:
“Dear Steve: Ever notice how some poems
want to be prayed? There is this homing spirit
to such poems. They want to make their nests
at the core of mysteries I don’t even know
how to write about. Pity me. I have never
been bright enough to understand these things…”
There is also poetry subtle in form, but profound in its careful placing of words and theme, as represented in Shari O’Brien’s “Wide Eyes of Trusting Blue”:
“Wide eyes of trusting blue turn upward
and my grandson asks
the gentle cream-colored cat who,
with wide eyes of trusting blue, too,
always rolled on the floor when stroked
like a purring slinky cylinder.
Creampuff is gone, I explain,
Hesitating to say the word “died”
Says the child, who struggles to make sense
Of an absence like this,
Struggles, I see, to grasp how
The warm ball of silken fur,
So steadfast, so alive,
Like all things will, in time, from here.
As I look down into his wide eyes of trusting blue,
I struggle to grasp it, too.”
There is even room for poetry that is whimsical but full of the same mystical presence Mr. Zydeck previously described in his own piece. D.R. Goodman’s poem “Burr” is one of these:
“How did the pod know
a small spiked spiral,
suitable to catch on cloth,
was the way to success?
That any creature,
Furred or clothed,
That this young girl,
Harried by the sticke
Between sock and moccasin
Would stop, unhurried,
To work it free,
Admire its spiny elegance,
And in a spark
Of shared intelligence,
Plant it on a far oasis of grass?”
The third installment of Meridian accomplishes what its predecessor accomplished: to bring another facet of human expression within the writing form to captivate both casual and dedicated poetry reader.
Meridian Anthology of Contemporary Poetry Vol. 3, Phyliss L. Geller & Marilyn Krepf (editors & publishers), Copyright 2005 NM Cyprian Publishers, ISBN: 0-9729014-3-4, pages: 168, $14.