Elena Georgiou & Michael Lassell, editors.
St. Martins Press, 2000
Available from Amazon
In the first substantial collection of gay and lesbian poetry in over a decade, editors Georgiou and Lassell present significant work by forty-six women and men-all living, working poets-at the height of the their creative powers. With selections from major, established poets (marily Hacker, J.D. McClatchy, Olga Broumas, and Mark Doty, among many others) to emerging artists (Letta Nely, Justin Chin, Mark Wunderlich, Regie Cabico, and more), The World in Us is poetry with its roots in the active voice.
“The selection of verse is mature, nuanced, and skillful… Call them what you will — gay poets, lesbian poets, new wave poets — though “first-rate poets” suffices quite nicely.”— Time Out New York
“The World in Us contains more than enough budding and seasoned poets to be discovered, savored, and prized for generations to come.”— The Advocate
From urban slam-fests to government-sponsored verse on public transportation, poetry seems to be enjoying a renaissance of interest these days, and this collection adds another chorus of powerful voices to the song. A wide variety of form and style is represented, from the hip-hop beat of urban street slang to the steady, studied cadence of more meditative verse. This is poetry that does not flinch from life but rather confronts it head-on. Everything that life is about, love and death, AIDS and lust and yearning, is confronted, distilled, and recorded. Well-known poets such as Olga Broumas, Alfred Corn, Robert Gluck, and Marilyn Hacker appear alongside new names with equally impressive talents. Of course, an anthology is only as good as the editors’ choices, and Lassell and Georgiou (both accomplished authors and editors) have chosen uniformly strong writers. Interestingly, the introduction states that several well-known poets declined to have their work included, embarrassed perhaps by the unabashedly gay nature of the anthology. Nevertheless, this is an exciting collection that beautifully describes the vibrant state of contemporary American poetry. Recommended for most collections.
— Library Journal
Twenty years ago, an anthology of poetry by openly gay and lesbian writers would have been uneven at best, and at worst an embarrassment. Even now, as the editors of this watershed volume attest, a number of our more accomplished poets (mostly of the “pre-Stonewall generation”) decline to have their sexual identities made public, or their work associated with gay and lesbian culture. One hopes that their reluctance won’t prevent them from reading The World in Us and being dazzled–or shamed–by the daring and eclectic work of these 46 living, midcareer writers who are actively producing queer-themed poetry. With such a wide variety of work included, there’s something here for almost everyone, although aficionados of pop culture will be especially pleased, with poems devoted to David Cassidy (Dennis Cooper’s “David Cassidy Then”), Marlo Thomas (Jeffrey Conway’s “Marlo Thomas in Seven Parts and Epilogue”), and the glamorous Kennedys (Eileen Myles’s “An American Poem”). Among the well-established poets here are Marilyn Hacker, David Trinidad, Rafael Campo, and Olga Broumas (represented by a somewhat eccentric selection), while a number of the novices included are young poets involved in the burgeoning spoken-word movement. Each of these writers offers a jolt or a caress, ample evidence of the richness of the poetry scene and the extravagant talents of queer writers. In particular, don’t miss the work of Cyrus Cassell, Wayne Koestenbaum (author of The Queen’s Throat), or Minnie Bruce Pratt. “We hardly need a place at anyone else’s table,” the editors note, “when our own dining room is full to bursting.”
— Regina Marler, Amazon (Company Review)