By Andrei Codrescu

The editors of this anthology requested a couple of hundred American poets from divergent backgrounds and literary traditions the next query: How might you are saying so long to the 20 th century? Writers either new and confirmed are represented the following, together with Paul Auster, Charles Bukowski, Robert Creeley, Allen Ginsberg, Maxine Kumin, Carolyn Kizer, Charles Simic, David Trinidad, and Anne Waldman.

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Words tend to last a bit longer than things, but eventually they fade too, along with the pictures they once evoked. Entire categories of objects disappear flowerpots, for example, or cigarette filters, or rubber bandsand for a time you will be able to recognize those words, even if you cannot recall what they mean. But then, little by little, the words become only sounds, a random collection of glottals and fricatives, a storm of whirling phonemes, and finally the whole thing just collapses into gibberish.

Ditto the caveat, ibid the scam," writes Bill Berkson. For all that, the elegiac calibrates even the densest texts, the most telegraphic notations. " Without irony such sentiments would be tragic. But not necessarily. The world of bright, shiny, American-made objects has its fans. David Trinidad's American century is the movies. And Joe Cardarelli in "Against the 21st Century," disdains the coming age of antiseptic living. He has loved his time and the abusive pleasures of his world. " Still, an American De Natura Rerum is missing from this book, which is a mystery.

A thing vanishes, and if you wait too long before thinking about it, no amount of struggle can ever wrench it back. Memory is not an act of will, after all. It is something that happens in spite of oneself, and when too much is changing all the time, the brain is bound to falter, things are bound to slip through it. Sometimes, when I find myself groping for a thought that has eluded me, I begin to drift off to the old days back home, remembering how it used to be when I was a little girl and the whole family would go up north on the train for the summer holidays.

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