Under the Rock Umbrella

Under the Rock Umbrella: Contemporary American Poets from 1951-1977, edited by William Walsh. Mercer University Press, 2006

This poetry anthology attempts to examine American poetry between 1951 and 1977, what William Walsh defines as ” watershed years” in terms of culture and the influence of rock music on that culture.  Under the Rock Umbrella, a fairly thick anthology (that’s always good; more is better with poetry anthologies), but don’t think it’s an anthology of poems about rock music. It is a solid collection of “poets born after the birth of rock and roll.” I can’t claim to have read it in any complete sense during its brief vacation in my greedy little hands, but I browsed through it again and again, finding many familiar names, which lends credibility, and many unfamiliar ones as well, which means this anthology doesn’t just tread the same ground as others on the same era.

A nice library find. An anthology like this is the best way to read poetry. However, I don’t feel it makes any definitive statement about the effects of rock music on our culture, or vice versa. There are too many intangibles in that. You can make the same connections here that you could in any comprehensive anthology.

None of this is really definitive, really, because I haven’t spent enough time with the book. Grade: A

One of so many fine poems:

Encephalitis

If your drop of lemon juice leaves the lemon in your hand and the oyster doesn’t wriggle upon being touched by the juice of the lemon you should not eat it for the oyster is not whole in its mind.

Peter Streckfus

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