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Working Classics: Poems on Industrial Life

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       From the cannery rows of California to the sweatshops of New York, this         anthology of poems captures the drama of work and working-class life in         industrial America. It speaks of rolling mills, mine shafts, and foundries,         and of a people who dig coal, tap blast furnaces, sew shirts, clean fish,         and assemble cars. These subjects, though        From the cannery rows of California to the sweatshops of New York, this         anthology of poems captures the drama of work and working-class life in         industrial America. It speaks of rolling mills, mine shafts, and foundries,         and of a people who dig coal, tap blast furnaces, sew shirts, clean fish,         and assemble cars. These subjects, though largely absent from literary         anthologies and textbooks, are increasingly evident in the work of contemporary         poets. Working Classics gathers the best and most representative         of these poems, American and Canadian, from 1945 to the present.       Included are poems by Antler, Robert Bly, Lorna Dee Cervantes, Jim Daniels,         Patricia Dobler, Stephen Dunn, Tess Gallagher, Edward Hirsch, David Ignatow,         June Jordan, Lawrence Joseph, Philip Levine, Chris Llewellyn, Joyce Carol         Oates, Anthony Petrosky, Michael Ryan, Gary Soto, Tom Wayman, James Wright,         and many others. The result is a diverse and evocative collection of 169         poems by 74 poets, nearly a third of them women.  


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       From the cannery rows of California to the sweatshops of New York, this         anthology of poems captures the drama of work and working-class life in         industrial America. It speaks of rolling mills, mine shafts, and foundries,         and of a people who dig coal, tap blast furnaces, sew shirts, clean fish,         and assemble cars. These subjects, though        From the cannery rows of California to the sweatshops of New York, this         anthology of poems captures the drama of work and working-class life in         industrial America. It speaks of rolling mills, mine shafts, and foundries,         and of a people who dig coal, tap blast furnaces, sew shirts, clean fish,         and assemble cars. These subjects, though largely absent from literary         anthologies and textbooks, are increasingly evident in the work of contemporary         poets. Working Classics gathers the best and most representative         of these poems, American and Canadian, from 1945 to the present.       Included are poems by Antler, Robert Bly, Lorna Dee Cervantes, Jim Daniels,         Patricia Dobler, Stephen Dunn, Tess Gallagher, Edward Hirsch, David Ignatow,         June Jordan, Lawrence Joseph, Philip Levine, Chris Llewellyn, Joyce Carol         Oates, Anthony Petrosky, Michael Ryan, Gary Soto, Tom Wayman, James Wright,         and many others. The result is a diverse and evocative collection of 169         poems by 74 poets, nearly a third of them women.  

30 review for Working Classics: Poems on Industrial Life

  1. 4 out of 5

    Laura Leaney

    Maybe it's just my blue collar family background crazy-talking me into thinking all these poems are genius - but there you go. The beauty of line work, the creative existential flowering of factory cogs, foundry labor, Cuba, Detroit, Massachusetts..................America. Listen to Ed Ochester in your head: The Miners at Revloc Coal has entered their skin. A fine black salt drifts back into their meals. Every day the mills are fed tiny wafers of their flesh. Gives me chills it does - that the miners h Maybe it's just my blue collar family background crazy-talking me into thinking all these poems are genius - but there you go. The beauty of line work, the creative existential flowering of factory cogs, foundry labor, Cuba, Detroit, Massachusetts..................America. Listen to Ed Ochester in your head: The Miners at Revloc Coal has entered their skin. A fine black salt drifts back into their meals. Every day the mills are fed tiny wafers of their flesh. Gives me chills it does - that the miners have been incorporated into the sacrament of commerce. Many of my favorite poets are in this collection - Edward Hirsch, Philip Levine, Antler, Donald Hall, Jim Daniels - and writers that I don't usually associate with poetry like Gary Soto and Joyce Carol Oates. And, because 3-25 (1911) is the ghastly anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, I'll type up a small offering from Part 2 of Mary Fell's "The Triangle Fire": 2. Among the Dead First a lace of smoke decorated the air of the workroom, the far wall unfolded into fire. The elevator shaft spun out flames like a bobbin, the last car sank. I leaped for the cable, my only chance. Woven steel burned my hands as I wound to the bottom. I opened my eyes. I was lying in the street. Water and blood washed the cobbles, the sky rained ash. A pair of shoes lay beside me, in them two blistered feet. I saw the weave in the fabric of a girl's good coat, the wilted nosegay pinned to her collar. Not flowers, what I breathed then, awake among the dead. Clearly, the theme of this anthology is the working lives of human beings, mostly gritty but often (and surprisingly) beautiful and elegant. The collection feels very 1940s, but many of the poems were written in the 70s and 80s. I'm not an expert on the state of the nation, but it seems to me that the country's factories are in the process of winding down, smokestacks are dormant. Poems on sweatshops and picket lines no longer seem so apt, but change the "mill's black heart" to corporate exploitation and you might still identify with the blood loss and suffering of working men and women. Better yet, apply globally and understand that "behind every device of recreation and leisure," "behind every laborsaving device" is a factory slave (Antler).

  2. 5 out of 5

    Nancy

    One of my 2012 reading resolutions was to read more poetry; I haven't followed through, though. Even with this poetry anthology, I skipped through it, mostly reading the poems that grabbed me immediately or concerned Western Pennsylvania. That said, I enjoyed the poems that I read. The following was my favorite: Field Trip to the Rolling Mill, 1950 Sister Monica has her hands full timing the climb to the catwalk so the fourth-graders are lined up before the next heat is tapped, "and no giggling no jost One of my 2012 reading resolutions was to read more poetry; I haven't followed through, though. Even with this poetry anthology, I skipped through it, mostly reading the poems that grabbed me immediately or concerned Western Pennsylvania. That said, I enjoyed the poems that I read. The following was my favorite: Field Trip to the Rolling Mill, 1950 Sister Monica has her hands full timing the climb to the catwalk so the fourth-graders are lined up before the next heat is tapped, "and no giggling no jostling, you monkeys! So close to the edge!" She passes out sourballs for bribes, no liking the smile on the foreman's face, the way he pulls at his cap, he's not Catholic. Protestant madness, these field trips, this hanging from catwalks suspended over an open hearth. Sister Monica understands Hell to be like this. If overhead cranes clawing their way through the layers of dark air grew leathery wings and flew screeching at them, it wouldn't surprise her. And the three warning whistle blasts, the blazing orange heat pouring out liquid fire like Devil's soup doesn't surprise her - she understands Industry and Capital and Labor, the Protestant trinity. That is why she trembles here, the children clinging to her as she watches then learn their future. -Patricia Dobler From the Notes, I learned that Patricia Dobler was born and raised in Middletown, Ohio and lives in Pittsburgh. I still want to read more poetry and have several others on my shelves. But I can't help recalling Sam Hazo's comment during a reading, that poetry is meant to be heard.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Joe

    Five stars because it's such a useful and original anthology, though I'd give it 3 stars for the cumulative dreary effect of 300 pages of so many "woe is me I'm a downtrodden worker" poems. Not that they're all like that. My personal taste keeps me always on the lookout for poems about taking pride in one's skills. Through this book I've discovered some wonderful poets I otherwise would never have heard of, including at least one who apparently never had a book published: Todd Jailer. Some of th Five stars because it's such a useful and original anthology, though I'd give it 3 stars for the cumulative dreary effect of 300 pages of so many "woe is me I'm a downtrodden worker" poems. Not that they're all like that. My personal taste keeps me always on the lookout for poems about taking pride in one's skills. Through this book I've discovered some wonderful poets I otherwise would never have heard of, including at least one who apparently never had a book published: Todd Jailer. Some of the name brand writers - Joyce Carol Oates, Robert Bly - are of less interest, sounding like upper class writers who are trying to write about "the condition of the working class." Others like Philip Levine have an authenticity that comes from inside experience. Best of all are the lesser known, the less polished gems - totally genuine - you'll find here.

  4. 5 out of 5

    S. Donovan

    An anthology of unadorned verse. As down-to-earth and matter-of-fact as the reality of working-class life in industrial America. Miners, farmers, line-workers, mechanics, seamstresses add their personal chronicles, from 1945 to the present. Poets who are primarily workers mix their work with poets who are primarily artists, exploring insider vs. outsider perspectives on physical labor and creative work. Included are poems by familiar names such as Robert Bly, Patricia Dobler, Stephen Dunn, Tess G An anthology of unadorned verse. As down-to-earth and matter-of-fact as the reality of working-class life in industrial America. Miners, farmers, line-workers, mechanics, seamstresses add their personal chronicles, from 1945 to the present. Poets who are primarily workers mix their work with poets who are primarily artists, exploring insider vs. outsider perspectives on physical labor and creative work. Included are poems by familiar names such as Robert Bly, Patricia Dobler, Stephen Dunn, Tess Gallagher, Edward Hirsch, David Ignatow, June Jordan, Lawrence Joseph, Philip Levine, Chris Llewellyn, Joyce Carol Oates, Anthony Petrosky, Michael Ryan, Gary Soto, Tom Wayman, and James Wright. The collection amounts to 169 poems by 74 poets.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Michael York

  6. 5 out of 5

    Peter Oresick

  7. 4 out of 5

    Karissa Morton

  8. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl Anne

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Harrison

  10. 4 out of 5

    Dave Schaafsma

  11. 4 out of 5

    Christopher Nelson

  12. 4 out of 5

    Eric

  13. 4 out of 5

    Bob

  14. 5 out of 5

    Joe

  15. 5 out of 5

    Karen

  16. 4 out of 5

    Michael Makar

  17. 5 out of 5

    Erica

  18. 5 out of 5

    Dave Newman

  19. 4 out of 5

    Pamela

  20. 4 out of 5

    Bill Duffy

  21. 5 out of 5

    Maggie

  22. 5 out of 5

    ems

  23. 5 out of 5

    Ian

  24. 5 out of 5

    Ron Mohring

  25. 5 out of 5

    Susan

  26. 4 out of 5

    Zeb Duffy

  27. 4 out of 5

    Laura Shefler

  28. 5 out of 5

    William Oresick

  29. 5 out of 5

    Brice

  30. 5 out of 5

    Brendan Cooney

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