The Great American Poetry Show is, contrary to the name, not a show at all, but rather a poetry anthology published every few years by The Muse Media. It is hardcover, almost two-hundred pages long, and home to the work of over fifty different poets.
For the most part this is a strong collection. The poems vary wildly in length, form, tone, subject matter, language, style and feel. In fact there doesn’t seem to be any unifying theme to the poems, except perhaps that they’re all fairly strong, and American in origin. It’s a varied selection, with a solid body of traditional and free verse poems sprinkled with the occasional burst of something more shocking or experimental. The balance is just right and makes for an enjoyable and sustained read.
Although there’s nothing to particularly mark out The Great American Poetry Show as special, it’s worthy of interest for its solidity and strength. Energy that might have been put into a fancy layout or extensive website has instead been sunk into carefully editing and arranging for maximum effect. The result is an anthology with range and depth.
To give you an idea of just how wide a range it has, I’d like to highlight two poems from the most recent edition. “Loons” by Michael Hettich is a haunting, quiet narrative poem in which the writer and his father swim out into the middle of a lake. This can be contrasted with the much more humorous “Robinson Crusoe” by Lockie Hunter, which takes the form of a list of song titles which, read in sequence, tell the story of the famous shipwreck novel. It’s a credit to the anthology that having these two pieces printed together doesn’t feel uneven or ill-planned.
Within an otherwise beautifully-presented volume there are a few strange anachronisms, including a page labelled “Intermission” at the very end of the book, and an extensive list that informs us name by name, that each one of the contributors has given permission for their work to appear. These blips aside, The Great American Poetry Show is a carefully-curated and beautifully-produced collection. In such an extensive and varied anthology it would be hard not to find something to enjoy.
Christopher Frost is a writer from the North of England.