From the explosion in creative writing programs and workshops to the poetry slams and open mikes in every city to the reading groups venturing beyond prose for the first time, poetry is suddenly everywhere. This vibrant anthology showcases unforgettable poems and photographic portraits of leading writers in the United States, together with a CD that features many of the poets reading from their work. From Aleida Rodriguez to Ishmael Reed to Maxine Hong Kingston to John Ashbery, the poets gathered here represent a cross section of poetic styles, geographic regions, and ethnic identities. Together they express the amazing exuberance and diversity of contemporary poetry.
Margaretta K. Mitchell conceived the volume after attending the celebrated Lunch Poems Reading Series at the University of California, Berkeley. Her desire to capture the faces of all of the poets who participated in the series led to the creation of this book. Her essay explores the importance of portraiture and describes her studio sessions with these poets.
In Celebration of Portraits and Poets: Photographer’s Introduction
Margaretta K. Mitchell
Michael S. Harper
Maxine Hong Kingston
Agha Shahid Ali
David St. John
Brigit Pegeen Kelly
Jimmy Santiago Baca
Luis J. Rodriguez
Dionisio D. Martinez
Margaretta K. Mitchell is a Bay Area photographer whose work has appeared in numerous exhibitions and books. Her photographs are in the collections of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the New York Public Library, and the International Center of Photography, among others. Her books include Gift of Place (1969), To a Cabin (1973), Recollections: Ten Women of Photography (1979), and Ruth Bernhard: Between Art and Life (2000). Zack Rogow, poet, translator and coordinator of the Lunch Poems Reading Series, provides a general introduction and a brief biography of each poet. The foreword by former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Hass puts the book in the context of the current poetry scene.
“A major topographical survey of contemporary American poetry . . . even if you read nothing but the poets in this book, you would have an impressive knowledge of what's going on in poetry today.”—Gerald Nicosia San Francisco Chronicle
“As smart and diverse a sampling of today's American poetry as you're apt to find.”—Steve Kowit San Diego Union-Tribune
“Rogow’s collection is essential, an important collection by some of the country’s finest wordsmiths.”—Dan Szczesny Hippo
“A magnificent new book.”—Berkeley Daily Planet
“Photographer Margaretta K. Mitchell catches the poet’s inner hunger for surprise. Imagine: a formal looking portrait of Czeslaw Milosz and he’s actually smiling! Each face has spirit. And the eyes don’t always focus on the middle distance: As often as not, the poet’s gaze connects with the viewer. Surprise! If a lined face is a palimpsest, the choice of poems do more than speak for the poet.”—Providence Journal
"These portraits speak to each other and to us with the voice of poetry. Margaretta's mastery of the language of photography gives us insight into the poetic personae. The gestures bring meaning to the idea of poetry as originally spoken. What a fascinating series of faces!"—Ruth Bernhard
"The Face of Poetry
is the ideal companion for any and every reader of contemporary poetry. The brilliant selections by Zack Rogow are consistently wise, eclectic, and diverse-both stylistically and ethnically-and Margaretta K. Mitchell's masterly photographs of the poets are simply revelations. The Face of Poetry offers a luminous and complex portrait of American poetry at the height of its powers."—David St. John, author of THE FACE: A Novella in Verse