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Monday, January 23, 2012

A Brand New eBook Women's Poetry Anthology

Title: Fire on Her Tongue Subtitle: An eBook Anthology of Contemporary Women’s Poetry Editors: Agodon, Kelli Russell, and Spaulding-Convy, Annette Editor’s Website Link:
: Poetry
13: 978-1-937860-24-0Amazon Link:
Two Sylvias Press, 2012

Reviewed by Paul David Adkins
Fire on Her Tongue: An eBook Anthology of Contemporary Women’s Poetry, (, ISBN: 13: 978-1-937860-24-0, 491 kb, approximately 460 pp) is an eBook edited by Kelli Russell Agodon and Annette Spaulding-Convy. The editors present the work of 73 poets, both well known and emerging artists. This first-of-its-kind collection, available on Kindle, Nook, iBooks, Sony Reader, and twenty-eight other eBook retailers such as,, Powell’s and many others, provides an exciting overview of some of the best American writing today.
Fire on Her Tongue should not be confused with earlier comprehensive anthologies such as Hayden Carruth’s The Voice That is Great Within Us, or a college textbook published by Norton, lugged to every introductory American literature course known to woman. Agodon and Spaulding-Convy present the poetry of contemporary women exclusively: there is no Robert Frost, W.C. Williams, Carl Sandburg, or Robert Creeley here. The collection is vivid and immediate, and the writers are all still living. This eBook captures the incredibly varied talents of the women included.
Anthologies are normally associated with canonical writing. With the usual exceptions of Emily Dickinson, Elizabeth Bishop, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and Gwendolyn Brooks, general anthologies almost universally neglect the presence, much less importance, of women poets. The adage that one must be dead to be a famous author seems especially fitting for these types of collections, many of which stop at Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton. It is as if American women suddenly ceased writing to eternally mourn the deaths of these twin icons. The fact that the press publishing this work is named Two Sylvias is doubly significant here. It marks the definitive passing of women’s poetry from the enigmatic, suicidal Plath to her matrilineal descendants, so to speak. Deference is paid to America’s colossal literary martyr, but it’s time to move on, the editors declare. 
And move on, they do! Though the poets are presented alphabetically, Kim Addonizio is a perfect opening writer for this groundbreaking collection. Members of the canon such as Alicia Ostriker and Patricia Smith stand alongside deserving lesser-known authors including Ivy Alvarez and Kate Lebo. Rachel Contreni Flynn and Annie Finch comfortably coexist. This is a collection for people who love poetry. And while academics will certainly find it an invaluable tool for mapping current literary trends women are exploring, the real worth is in its ability to share wonderful work with other readers, not dictate what is canonical or worthy of scholarly attention.
Some people might consider the heavy concentration of writers linked to Seattle as a weakness. Over 30 of the authors are indeed directly connected in some way to this city and surrounding area, as, too, are Agodon and Spaulding-Convy. The question might arise as to why Two Sylvias did not simply present the anthology exclusively as a showpiece of the incredibly vibrant Seattle poetry scene; there is certainly enough material to do so. Such criticism misses the point of the collection, however. The anthology has more of a conversational than authoritative feel. Essentially, here are two highly knowledgeable women from the Pacific Northwest respecting their audience with questions such as, “Hey, have you read THIS writer? She’s awesome! This one, too. Do you know her? She’s really fantastic!” 
Fire on Her Tongue is a celebration of women’s poetry, a party, not a granite monument. It’s not the work of two editors showing off how smart they are, but instead how excited they are about the current state of women’s poetry in America. Buy it! Read it! You’ll find their enthusiasm is catching.
The New Book Review is blogged by Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers. It is a free service offered to those who want to encourage the reading of books they love. That includes authors who want to share their favorite reviews, reviewers who'd like to see their reviews get more exposure, and readers who want to shout out praise of books they've read. Please see submission guidelines on the left of this page. Reviews and essays are indexed by genre, reviewer names, and review sites. Writers will find the search engine handy for gleaning the names of small publishers. Find other writer-related blogs at Sharing with Writers and The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor. As a courtesy to the author, please tweet and retweet this post using this little green retweet widget :

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