Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Book of the Week: Please Excuse This Poem

Please Excuse This Poem: 100 New Poets for the Next Generation

by Brett Fletcher Lauer and Lynn Melnick eds

Published by Penguin, 2015

304 pages

ISBN: 9780670014798

Age 14 and older

The task of selecting 100 poems and poets for this anthology must have felt both limiting and liberating. Limiting because if these poems are any example—and they surely are—the talent pool of young poets in America is deep and diverse. That isn’t a surprise, but it must have made the number 100 feel like a huge challenge at times. Yet as hard as choosing must have been, 100 poems also allowed for remarkable inclusiveness. The result isn’t at all forced. Instead, the work as a whole feels like a gathering you might find in any large city, and certainly across America: multicultural and diverse in every sense of the words. The poets’ experiences and observations here are always personal, sometimes intimate, sometimes deeply unsettling. The poems themselves are often thick with images and full of surprises. These selections are more challenging as a whole than what is often found in young adult anthologies (a genre that has languished in recent years). At the same time, across the offerings are poems that will invite readers easily in, and which poems those are will inevitably vary from one reader to the next. It’s impossible to not come away from such a rich collection appreciative not only of the poets’ talent, but of the ways language is flexible enough to be bent and shaped and crafted to speak so many distinct and powerful truths. And for young adults whose inclination is to write poetry themselves, it’s impossible not to come away from this volume with words—their own words—sounding.   © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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