Melba Joyce Boyd and M. L. Liebler, Abandon Automobile: Detroit City Poetry 2001 (Wayne State UP, 2001). 422 pages. $19.95.
I think that the title should read Detroit City Poetry to 2001
or somesuch as the collection digs into the wealth of poetic history surrounding Detroit before the date of publication [and not in that fake Berkeley Addison Walk
way in which Berkeley lays claim to China's Li Po (701-762)]. Everyone in this book is directly connected to Detroit. W. D. Snodgrass? Who knew he taught at Wayne State between 1959-67? I seriously can't imagine him walking around Cass Corridor in the late 60s. What did he do during the riots? Andrei Codrescu immigrated from Rumania only to settle in Detroit in 1967 at the height of samesaid riots?
As with any anthology based around a single location, many of the geographic references will not translate into visceral community. Non-Detroiters might be at a loss when Lawrence Pike snipes these "Lines from a Highland Parker:"
Highland Park north of Detroit? New Yorker, smug
proofread thy soul. Your great white way already pales (286).
But readers who have never stepped foot in Wayne County, Michigan won't feel left out of the overall experience these poems offer.
There's a lot of ways that Boyd and Liebler could have framed this, stealing Chinese feudal era poets for example. Instead, they've managed the near impossible task of representing the history of Detroit-based poets while at the same time representing and promoting the current various and active communities in Detroit circa 2001.
Consider all of these folks added to my Feb. 5
post of Detroit poets. If you can provide links to any of these, please by all means post the link in the comments box. I'll be inching forward on this for quite some time.