29 June 2007

In flagrante delicto

Before I begin this post I will confess (a Friday theme, it seems) that generally I'm annoyed with most anthologies.

The ones with the good bios and useful introductions never seem to be the ones with the poets I want to read/teach. The ones I really dig end up out of print or broken into two parts (a la Norton Modern Po...boo). I won't even mention all of the controversial and sometimes glaring omissions.

I've made it my goal to use as few anthologies as possible these days, in order to use single-author small press books instead. I do dig small press anthologies, however.

That said, here's my question.

How do you feel about the editor(s) of an anthology including themselves in said anthology?

Maybe I'm exposing my litmag-exclusive background in editing and literary publishing, but the idea of including yourself in the book you are editing confounds me. It puzzles me the most when it's something momentous like The Top 100 Poems Of All Time and the editor is someone who has not published extensively elsewhere. Isn't this just inviting extreme scrutiny and potentially torrential whining in the blogosphere?

Any thoughts on this phenomenon? I'm always threatening to put together an anthology of Poetry of the Body in my bounteous spare time, and if I do you certainly won't see my poetic bods in there.

6 comments:

Keith Woodruff said...

On a completely unrelated note ... tag.

Penultimatina said...

Keith! I think I know that pond of which you speak.

Took my SAT at Cranbrook, way back when.

Steven D. Schroeder said...

Me likey anthologies. My poetry reading style is often jumping in, sampling, and jumping back out, so a decent anthology suits me well.

Bernadette Geyer said...

I've read anthologies where the editors' poems work well in the anthology and where they don't. But, I don't always like every single poem in an anthology anyway.

There are a couple of lit-mags I've seen that publish their editor in EVERY SINGLE ISSUE! That really puts me off.

It's like going to a karaoke bar and having to sit through the bartender's five Bruce Springsteen power ballads and then you have to leave before you even get your turn...

Matthew Thorburn said...

MB, I agree 100% -- seeing an editor's own work in an anthology or journal makes me not read it. There should be a strict separation there -- a church-and-state type thing.

I would totally read a copy of your Poetry of the Body anthology. I love a good thematic anthology!

Frank said...

Couldn't agree more. Could you imagine one of the guest editors of Best American... including his or her own work?

To me, it makes the rest of the work look like filler. Like the editor thought: "You know, I'd like to self-publish, but I'll include some other folks so it's not quite so obvious."