Broken Land

Poems of Brooklyn

280 pages

April, 2007

ISBN: 9780814748022



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A former resident of Brooklyn, Julia Spicher Kasdorf is an associate professor of English at Penn State University. She is the author of two collections of poetry, Eve’s Striptease and Sleeping Preacher, and a collection of essays, The Body and the Book: Writing from a Mennonite Life.

All books by Julia Spicher Kasdorf

Michael Tyrell lives in Brooklyn, where he was born. His poetry has appeared in The Paris Review, The Yale Review, and Ploughshares. He teaches writing at New York University and Pace University.

All books by Michael Tyrell

Brooklyn, crouching forever in the shadow of Manhattan, is perhaps best known for a certain bridge or for the world-renowned tackiness of Coney Island. When it comes to literary history, Brooklyn can also seem dwarfed by its sister borough—until you take a closer look. As unlikely as it may sound, for more than two centuries Brooklyn has inspired poets and poetry. Although there are plenty of poetry anthologies devoted to specific regions of the United States, Broken Land is the first to focus exclusively on verse that celebrates Brooklyn. And what remarkable verse it is.

Edited by poets Julia Spicher Kasdorf and Michael Tyrell, this collection of 135 notable poems reveals the many cultural, ethnic, aesthetic, and religious traditions that have accorded Brooklyn its enduring place in the American psyche. Dazzling in its selections, Broken Land offers poetry from the colonial period to the present, including contributions from the American poets most closely associated with Brooklyn—Walt Whitman, Hart Crane, and Marianne Moore—as well as memorable poems from Elizabeth Bishop, Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, George Oppen, and Charles Reznikoff. Also included are a wide range of contemporary works from both established and emerging poets: Derek Walcott, Galway Kinnell, C.K. Williams, Amy Clampitt, Martin Espada, Lisa Jarnot, Marilyn Hacker, Tom Sleigh, D. Nurkse, Donna Masini, Michael S. Harper, Noelle Kocot, Joshua Beckman, and many others.

With its expansive array of poetic styles and voices, Broken Land mirrors the borough's diversity, toughness, and surprising beauty. The requirements for inclusion in this volume were simple: excellent poems that pay tribute in some way to the land that Dutch settlers, translating from the Algonquian, called “Gebroken landt.” But it is the phrase emblazoned on borough billboards that best serves to entice readers into entering this book: “Welcome to Brooklyn, Like No Other Place in the World.”


  • “Published by NYU Press, it is the first poetry anthology dedicated exclusively to verse about Brooklyn. Editors Julia Spicher Kasdorf and Michael Tyrell have culled 135 poems that chart the borough’;s long history as a place of danger and beauty, dreams and disappointment. Sure, there are several references to Brooklyn’;s bridges and Coney Island’;s beaches—and even a few to the Dodgers—but the book also encompasses a diversity of lives lived among and between the borough’s icons.”

    Brooklyn Daily Eagle

  • “In the excellent and surprising anthology Broken Land, poets and editors Julia Spicher Kasdorf and Michael Tyrell take a chronological and panoramic look at the New York borough of Brooklyn as portrayed in poems.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “This book isn’t only for Brooklyn residents but for all those who value community. . . . Reading this collection is a moving experience because the poems feel home-grown. It doesn't matter where they were written, each one makes Brooklyn come alive, and the poems find a home inside you.”

    —From the Foreword by Hal Sirowitz, author of Mother Said