January 31 -February 6, 2002 




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Toeing the Lines
Avant-garde poetry from the Big Apple underground

by Noel Black

Since Walt Whitman self-published the first volume of his revolutionary Leaves of Grass in 1854, New York City has been home to a rich tradition of self-publishing and radical underground poetry. Frank O'Hara, Diane DiPrima, Amiri Baraka, Allen Ginsberg and countless other poets met their muses in small hand-made journals and books far off the confessional, university-backed literary maps of the time. Like Whitman, many of these poets found their ways into the larger arteries of publishing and the American literary consciousness. 

With help from small publishers, another generation of underground New York poets is finding wide circulation for their formerly sub-radar verse experiments.

Like Donald Allen's seminal 1960 anthology The New American Poetry, this collection of avant-irreverance reads like notes from a collective of disillusioned scientists furtively searching for a new feeling. Gathered from the archives of poets Waldman and Warsh's underground magazine and press of the same name, The Angel Hair Anthology rounds up works of brilliant then-young poets the likes of Bernadette Mayer, Ted Berrigan, John Wieners, Rene Ricard, Dick Gallup and Joanne Kyger. Like all anthologies, the poems are hit-and-miss, but it's great to see works by many lesser-known and less-published authors like Mary Ferrari and Charles Stein. A great look into Angel Hair's sphere of influences and progressions.

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