The Ghetto, and Other Poems: An Annotated Edition by Lola Ridge
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Release Date: January 17, 2023
Non-annotated edition at Project Gutenberg
This collection was originally published in 1918, and, therefore, the original edition is public domain and can be acquired via Project Gutenberg or other such sites. However, this review is for the new Fordham University Press edition, the value-added of which is primarily to be found in the annotations — as well as in the inclusion of an abridged version of the titular poem that appeared in The New Republic. (i.e. There are two versions of “The Ghetto,” in this edition, one in an appendix.) The annotations definitely add benefit for the average poetry reader because, being over a hundred years old, many of the poet’s allusions will not be self-evident. That said, if you’re reading the poetry purely as artistic language and don’t really care about the author’s allusions or intended messages, the annotations might not have much value for you.
I was captivated by Ridge’s poems. She wrote a great deal of poetry of dissent and protest, and – as with standup comedy – it’s no simple matter to take on such subject matter and still produce an appealing product. [That’s part of the reason why the annotations can be valuable, because the metaphors and allusions may not be clear for a reader who can only access a literal reading of the poems.]
If you’re interested in American poetry, and particularly that of social objection, this collection is worth reading.
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