Cover image for The Before Columbus Foundation poetry anthology : selections from the American Book Awards, 1980-1990
The Before Columbus Foundation poetry anthology : selections from the American Book Awards, 1980-1990
Phillips, J. J., 1944-
Publication Information:
New York : Norton, 1992.
Physical Description:
xxvii, 429 pages ; 22 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Added Author:
Added Corporate Author:

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS615 .B44 1992 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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This landmark volume collects a decade's worth of work from the American Book Awards, and in the process redefines our sense of what constitutes the "mainstream" of American poetry. Includes the work of more than 50 poets on a wide range of themes, diction and geographical origins.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

The Before Columbus Foundation has been promoting America's multicultural literature since 1976. According to the editors of the fiction anthology: "Redefining the mainstream is the theme, the message, and the mission of the Before Columbus Foundation." The group established and continues to coordinate the annual American Book Awards, conducts seminars, and publishes a quarterly, the Before Columbus Review. The work of this organization and the literature it supports will have added relevance to students and the reading public in light of the forthcoming five-hundredth anniversary of Columbus' first voyage and the attendant reevaluation of America's history. These anthologies of American Book Award-winning fiction and poetry provide ready access to essays about cultural and ethnic diversity in American literature and to the literature itself. The fiction anthology includes works by 31 writers, including Ishmael Reed, J. California Cooper, Chester Himes, Salvatore La Puma, Leslie Marmon Silko, Gerald Vizenor, and Alma Luz Villanueva. The poetry anthology features poems by 46 poets in a wide variety of styles and voices. They include Miguel Algarin, Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, Peter Blue Cloud, Edward Dorn, Judy Grahn, Etheridge Knight, Tato Laviera, Colleen McElroy, and Elizabeth Woody. Each author is introduced by a brief biographical sketch. Two anthologies guaranteed to provide the thrill of discovery. ~--Donna Seaman

Publisher's Weekly Review

Touted as ``multicultural,'' this is a ragtag collection of work by well-known poets (Ai, Amiri Baraka, Edward Dorn, Robert Duncan, Allen Ginsberg) and a large selection of poetry from the margins of American culture. Some of these poems surprise with their freshness (as does the work of Quincy Troupe), but the majority of the writing is indeed of marginal quality. Take for example Maurice Kenny's poem: ``The day I was born my father bought me a 22. / A year later my mother traded it for a violin. / Ten years later my big sister traded that / for a guitar, and gave it to her boyfriend . . . / who sold it. / Now you know why I never learned to hunt, / or learned how to play a musical instrument, / or became a Wall St. broker.'' While good-natured and unpretentious, this poem is neither memorable nor intellectually provocative. Phillips's convoluted introduction is full of nonsensical ideas such as the following: ``When Jewish-American poet Hilton Obenzinger writes poetry sympathetic to the plight of the Palestinians he places his health and safety in jeopardy right here in the land of the free and home of the brave.'' (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

This companion to The Before Columbus Foundation Fiction Anthology reviewed in this issue, p. 179.--Ed. presents work by an assortment of postmodern graybeards (Charles Olson, Allen Ginsberg, Gary Snyder); language poets (Leslie Scalapino, Susan Howe); gay/lesbian writers (Judy Grahn, John Weiners); Hispanic, African, Native, and Asian Americans (Jimmy Santiago Baca, Ai, Elizabeth Woody, Mei-mei Berssenbrugge); and 33 others whose work is considered marginalized by the dominant Eurocentric culture. However, most of these poets are already widely praised and anthologized, so their presence here makes the trumpeting polemics of Phillips's introduction seem moot. Anthologies compiled in angry opposition to the establishment are an American tradition, but this one--under the aegis of a major publisher--is likely to reach larger audiences than its predecessors.-- Fred Muratori, Cornell Univ. Lib., Ithaca, N.Y. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.