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

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

by: Brett Fletcher Lauer (Author)Lynn Melnick (Author)Carolyn Forché (Introduction)

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I picked this up from my local library a while back after there was some controversy with a few parents over the book being considered YA due to the content. They felt that it was inappropriate and came in complaining about the book after their kids brought it home. At the age of 11, my oldest daughter is starting to read some YA and I thought I’d like to check this one out to see what the fuss was all about and if it’s something she could read. Plus, I love poetry.

The book is a compilation of about one hundred poems from different authors on various topics including racism, drug use, sexual orientation, sexual abuse, common problems that teens experience with friends and family, and others. It does contain some profanity. It’s a good mix of poems and I loved some and didn’t like others. A few of my favorites are:

“Richer Than Anyone in Heaven,”

“Boyishly”

“High-School Picture Re-Take Day”

“That’s Everything Inevitable”

“Sonnet”

“Second Summer”

“The Wait for Cake”

My absolute favorite was:
“Concerning the Land to the South of Our Neighbors to the North.”

I enjoyed the book, but I’m not sure about this being used in classrooms and feel that it might be best for upper high school due to some of the content. YA can mean different ages from twelve all the way up to twenty-five and I noticed that School Library Journal lists this as tenth grade and up, but I don’t think it’s appropriate for all tenth graders. Some of these poems are intense and a few can be offensive. It’s books like these that make me wish (even more) that there was a rating system in place for books just like movies, then parents and teachers could decide right away whether a book is or isn’t appropriate for their readers. I’m no expert, but in my opinion, even as an adult you really have to go into this book with an open mind.

I was pleasantly surprised to find the afterward which contains information about the poets and some short Q&A’s for each. What I didn’t like was that the questions asked were about favorite foods. artists, and mottos. I would’ve liked to learn why they wrote the poem that was featured in the book and what inspired them to write these poems in the first place.

My rating on this is 3.5***

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  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers (March 10, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670014796
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670014798

Blurb: One hundred poems. One hundred voices. One hundred different points of view.

Here is a cross-section of American poetry as it is right now—full of grit and love, sparkling with humor, searing the heart, smashing through boundaries on every page. Please Excuse This Poem features one hundred acclaimed younger poets from truly diverse backgrounds and points of view, whose work has appeared everywhere from The New Yorker to Twitter, tackling a startling range of subjects in a startling range of poetic forms. Dealing with the aftermath of war; unpacking the meaning of “the rape joke”; sharing the tender moments at the start of a love affair: these poems tell the world as they see it.

Editors Brett Fletcher Lauer and Lynn Melnick have crafted a book that is a must-read for those wanting to know the future of poetry. With an introduction from award-winning poet, editor, and translator Carolyn Forché, Please Excuse This Poem has the power to change the way you look at the world. It is The Best American Nonrequired Reading—in poetry form.

Find it on Amazon and Goodreads


 

Here you can see the authors introduce the book and also hear some of the poems.

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About the Authors:

Brett Fletcher Lauer

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Brett Fletcher Lauer is the deputy director of the Poetry Society of America and the poetry editor of A Public Space, and the author of memoir Fake Missed Connections: Divorce, Online Dating, and Other Failures, and the poetry collection A Hotel In Belgium. In addition to co-editing several anthologies, including Please Excuse this Poem: 100 News Poets for the Next Generation and Isn’t It Romantic: 100 Love Poems by Younger American Poets, he is the poetry co-chair for the Brooklyn Book Festival. – Goodreads

Find Brett Fletcher Lauer on:

Goodreads | Website | Amazon


Lynn Melnick

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Lynn Melnick is the author of the poetry collections Landscape with Sex and Violence (forthcoming, 2017) and If I Should Say I Have Hope (2012), both with YesYes Books, and the co-editor of Please Excuse This Poem: 100 Poets for the Next Generation (Viking, 2015). Her poetry has appeared in APR, The New Republic, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, A Public Space, and elsewhere, and she has written essays and book reviews for Boston Review, LA Review of Books, and Poetry Daily, among others. A 2017-2018 fellow at the New York Public Library’s Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers, she also teaches poetry at the 92Y and serves on the Executive Board of VIDA: Women in Literary Arts. Born in Indianapolis, she grew up in Los Angeles and currently lives in Brooklyn. – Goodreads

Find Lynn Melnick on:

Goodreads | Website | Amazon

 

 


Introduction by:

Carolyn Forché

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Carolyn Forché was born in Detroit, Michigan, in 1950. She studied at Michigan State University and earned an MFA from Bowling Green State University. Forché is the author of four books of poetry: Blue Hour (HarperCollins, 2004); The Angel of History (1994), which received the Los Angeles Times Book Award; The Country Between Us (1982), which received the Poetry Society of America’s Alice Fay di Castagnola Award, and was the Lamont Poetry Selection of The Academy of American Poets; and Gathering the Tribes(1976), which was selected for the Yale Series of Younger Poets by Stanley Kunitz. She is also the editor of Against Forgetting: Twentieth-Century Poetry of Witness (1993). Among her translations are Mahmoud Darwish’s Unfortunately, It Was Paradise: Selected Poems with Munir Akash (2003), Claribel Alegria’s Flowers from the Volcano (1983), and Robert Desnos’s Selected Poetry (with William Kulik, 1991). Her honors include fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Lannan Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. In 1992, she received the Charity Randall Citation from the International Poetry Forum. – Goodreads

Find Carolyn Forché on:

Goodreads | Amazon

 


Have you read this book? Do you like reading poetry? Feel free to comment with your thoughts. As always, thanks for reading.

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12 thoughts on “Please Excuse This Poem: 100 New Poets for the Next Generation – Book Review

  1. Nel

    Interesting. There is definitely a fine line between YA and NA nowadays. For example, A Court of Thorns and Roses series is labelled as YA to quite a few people but when I read it, I didn’t think it was YA at all. For issues such as the ones you listed, I don’t think I’d want my 11 year old to be reading about that kind of stuff just yet. Gotta preserve their childhood as long as possible! Thanks for sharing your thoughts Mischenko. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I feel the same way. I don’t even know if I’d want my tenth grader reading some of them. I guess it just depends on the child and how mature they are, which to me various greatly. Grey area I suppose. Book ratings would solve the problem though! 🙂

      Thanks for your input, Nel. I appreciate it! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s interesting to think about what constitutes YA literature. I remember finding all sorts of fascinating books in my middle school and high school libraries – Stephen King, Laurell K. Hamilton, Anne Rice – that I wouldn’t necessarily consider tween or teenage reading material. So I suppose if adult books can be found in a middle school/high school library, calling a book YA when it has more mature themes makes sense. Besides, I think many kids nowadays are much more savvy than I was at their ages and probably need their interest piqued and held in a different way.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re probably right there, but I think what parents had issues with in this book was some of the promiscuity and language. I suppose maybe they thought it was too influential, but regardless, I think book ratings would fix the YA issue because it covers such a broad range of ages. Libraries have become much more strict with not allowing kids check out R-rated movies, yet they can check out a book that talks about having sex, using drugs, getting raped, uses countless uses of f**k, etc. It makes no sense to me. Obviously kids are growing up in a different world, but there are some kids that just aren’t ready for this type of lit. Just my opinion though! 🙂 Thanks for sharing your thoughts. 💖

      Liked by 1 person

  3. David R. Dowdy

    The subject matter is perfect for an enlightened parent to discuss with their children when appropriate. They’re going to become worldly sooner or later. The questions is: Would you want it to get to their tender minds from someone who doesn’t know their feelings and level of understanding?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good point, David. I was thinking about this last night. I’d be willing to bet that many kids will just read it on their own, with zero guidance. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on it. I might PM you on this one…

      Like

  4. This is a great thing to discuss. You are so right when you talk about the age and maturity range of people fitting into the YA range. When I was a teacher librarian, I often wrestled with whether or not a book belonged in our school library. We went up to grade 8. Parents had to sign that their child was allowed to read YA books as we had some that were on the edge of being more high school. Tough to please everyone, so parental guidance is recommended.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Parents signing is a good idea, but like another person mentioned on the post I did today, they might miss out on great YA books. Especially if books were rated with letters like R. It’s very tough to please everyone and after reading everyone’s comments today, I can understand both sides.

      You might like reading whst people have to say. Here’s the link…

      https://readrantrockandroll.com/2017/08/29/should-ya-books-have-parental-ratings/

      I truly appreciate your expertise, Carla. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. ♡

      Liked by 1 person

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