Seriously Funny: Poems about Love, Death, Religion, Art, Politics, Sex, and Everything Else, ed. Barbara Hamby & David Kirby (University of Georgia Press) $24.95
Includes: Everyone, almost. From Frank O’Hara to Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Kenneth Koch to Kevin Young, Harryette Mullen to David Huerta, John Berryman to Paul Guest.
From the Introduction: We’re not looking for funny poems; we’re looking for seriously funny poems, ones that evoke poetry’s timeless concerns but include a comic element as well… A lot of contemporary poetry doesn’t do that… Billy Collins says, “It’s the fault of the Romantics, who eliminated humor from poetry. Shakespeare’s hilarious, Chaucer’s hilarious. [Then] the Romantics killed off humor, and they also eliminated sex, things which were replaced by landscape. I thought that was a pretty bad trade-off…”
Notable: Among themed anthologies a rare treat, this collection showcases a wider than usual range of poets. Seriously Funny does its part to offset the dominant aesthetic of what David Wojahn calls “a time when so many of our poets seem afflicted by mere self-importance and an almost-Pavlovian tic of irony.” Enjoyable as afternoon reading, useful as sourcebook, and well-suited as an introduction to the most accessible poetry in America, Seriously Funny is an encouraging survey of the contemporary mainstream, their Beat and New York School predecessors, and those who linger at the edges of the party.