Please Excuse This Poem: 100 New Poets for the Next Generation
by: Brett Fletcher Lauer (Author), Lynn Melnick (Author), Carolyn Forché
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,”
“High-School Picture Re-Take Day”
“That’s Everything Inevitable”
“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***
- 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.
Here you can see the authors introduce the book and also hear some of the poems.
About the Authors:
Brett Fletcher Lauer
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
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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
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