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Ever More Poetry Picks: The Best of 2004

Amy Ouzoonian, Jim Cohn, Louis Zukofsky, Hip-Hop Poetry, Slam Poetry...

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Hip-Hop Poetry & the Classics
Milk Mug Publishing

Amy L. Ouzoonian is a force. Her Your Pill (Foothills) is a a breakout first book: “Hey / You don’t know / some vegetables are nymphos.” A beautiful book, with hand-sewn string binding….

Jim Cohn has for a long time been one of my favorite poets –- incisive, dedicated, nonstop. Looking for a place to start with a poet who can read the histories of lichen on rock, start here, in the peaks of Quien Sabe Mountain: Poems 1998-2004 (Museum of American Poetics). His Web site, The Museum of American Poetics, is also a must-click….

The Louis Zukofsky Conference at Columbia this fall was extraordinary! Here Zuk loomed larger than Pound! So go get his book-length anti-Cantos A (which was pronounced Ginsbergian “Ah!” oft at the conference) and Prepositions: The Collected Critical Essays of Louis Zukofsky. Say “Louie,” not “Lewis”….

Do you teach high school? Now, you are lucky! because Alan Sitomer and Michael Cirelli (yes, the Director of Urban Word NYC) have gifted us with (ta-da!): Hip-Hop Poetry and the Classics, a workbook for the classroom that illuminates all manner of poetic forms, tropes, and techniques via a Classic and a Hip-Hop poem. Genius!….

My hat is off to Brother Marc Smith for writing The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Slam Poetry, which includes two CDs. This is the required text. After reading it, you can challenge Taylor Mali’s strategy and prepare to host the National Poetry Slam in your hometown. Slam is the most active grassroots art movement in the country, and is only getting started….

Finally, also from Chicago, KC Clarke brings a labor of love CD, reVerse1, which begins with a haunting poem by Li-Young Lee with a female vocalist and ambient score and concludes with a straight, tough a capella Lou Reed doing a chunk of his “The Raven.” In between, there’s straight poetry, gospel poetry, folk poetry, and Mark Strand. Cin Salach is here, and we need lots more of her!

Just as we need lots more poetry from you! Write on! Poets of the World, Rewrite!

~Bob Holman

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