American Hybrid on Reality Street

A week or so ago I posted a link to Peter Riley’s review of the American Hybrid anthology [here] in the Fortnightly Review; poet & publisher Ken Edwards has just published a piece on this review & anthology on his Reality Street site, which begins as follows:

Is it all over?

Posted by Ken Edwards on Friday, October 5, 2012 Under: writing
Peter Riley, in his always interesting regular slot for The Fortnightly Review, has been sounding off about a new Norton poetry anthology, American Hybrid, edited by Cole Swensen and David St John.
Well, his piece is not really about this particular book, which was merely the trigger for a lot of stuff Peter has been wanting to get off his chest. Those who know him or his critical writing will recognise some familiar themes – but this publication has really got his goat and set him off on a particularly lengthy rant. And now his piece has in turn set me off.
Though I don’t really know where to begin.
OK, let’s start with Swensen’s and St John’s anthology, which I haven’t read and haven’t even seen. The online blurb says it “focuses on the new poem – the hybrid – a synthesis of traditional and experimental styles”. The idea is that the division between experimental and traditional in American poetry is disappearing as poets adopt a variety of techniques and forms. The anthology aims to demonstrate this thesis with a selection of more than 70 poets – the range is from Jorie Graham to Lyn Hejinian – who exhibit “hybrid approaches”.
What is interesting about this is that it’s a Norton anthology, which means it’s a product aimed at the academic/educational market, which means someone at Norton thinks it’s saleable in that market.The notion that there is a body of poets who fail to fall neatly into either of two camps and therefore constitute a third category strikes me as either a truism or an extremely debatable and misleading marketing ploy – depending on how you choose to look at it.
[continued here]
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