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.”