A Celebration of Western New York Poets, edited by Patricia Tansey, Buffalo Legacy Publications, 470 pages, $20
In an uncommonly good holiday season for anthologies of writing from and/or about the Eastern Shores of Lake Erie, here is an excellent anthology of Buffalo poets that was, says its editor, “my labor of love for five years.”
One of the better academic jokes about life in Buffalo since the mid-’60’s is that “poetics” in that period became one of our area’s more virulent growth industries. From the mid-60s when Albert Cook brought Leslie Fiedler and Charles Olson to UB to the 21st century influence of Charles Bernstein, the city has been a hotbed of poets of all flavors, sizes and esthetic varieties. The biggest names among Buffalo poets were always obvious -- Olson, Creeley, Irving Feldman. Carl Dennis, John Logan, Bernstein, Robert Hass, Mac Hammond. But those poets all seemed to find throngs of friends, disciples and co-conspirators not just at universities but out in the community. A terrific anthology of Buffalo resident poets over the years is the one put together by Max Wickert of those who took part in his “Outriders Poetry Series” -- "An Outriders Poetry Anthology: Poetry in Buffalo 1969-1979.” Among its other features was Wickert’s rollicking introduction which is one of the finest (and most entertaining) pieces ever written about Bohemian and cultural life in Buffalo.
Tansey’s remarkable later-period anthology collecting “almost eight dozen” Buffalo poets is close to a perfect complement to Wickert’s anthology of ‘70’s poets.Tansey has been working on it for so long that some of the area’s finest and most conspicuous local poets over the years -- Sally Fiedler, Jimmie Gilliam and Bill Sylvester -- died before the book ever saw publication. But in both the poetry selected and in apparently inexhaustible information about contributors, this an immensely important contribution to the Buffalo bookshelf. (It’s not for nothing that it is being taught in some area schools.)
It is available in the Barnes and Noble on the Buffalo State campus, the Burchfield Penny Arts Center, Talking Leaves and online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.