The HyperTexts

Is the Phoenix Rising from the Ashes, or Crashing in Flames?

by Michael R. Burch

For quite some time Richard Vallance, the editor-in-chief of The Phoenix Rising from the Ashes, has been touting the book as the first "major" multilingual sonnet anthology of the twenty-first century, using effusions like "outstanding," "remarkable" and "stellar" to advertise and, presumably, sell it. But as the old saw goes, "the proof is in the pudding." Now that the book has finally been published, we can compare the marketing hype to the reality.

I will begin this reality check by saying that the anthology does contain, here and there, good poems by commendable poets. I particularly enjoyed "Still Life" by Annie Finch, "Warranty and Envoy" by Philip Fried, "Schindler's List" by Corey Harvard, "Porous" by Constance Rowell Mastores, "Lullaby for Romeo" by Sara Russell, "Harrowing" and "Coming to Terms" by Catherine Chandler, "The Thousand Things" by Paul Christian Stevens, "An Offering" by Conrad Geller, "Cambridge Spring" by Mitchell Geller, "Snipping the Threads" by Jim Dunlap, "Not a Sonnet" by Anna Evans, "Presences" by Sandra Shaffer Van Doren, Terese Coe's translations of Ronsard and Rilke, and a few others. However, I found locating the better poems to be like searching for treasure concealed within the eerie, seaweed-enshrouded skeleton of a sunken ship. At times the waters grew confoundingly murky: for instance, in the section where Vallance indulged in self-congratulatory commentary about a garland of sonnets he penned concerning the Titanic's catastrophic maiden voyage. Valance began his less-than-objective analysis in the third person, as if someone else were praising his work, then switched—seemingly obliviously—into the first person, giving the game away. In his commentary, Valance employed broken, sometimes incomprehensible, bizarrely-punctuated English. It is undoubtedly the strangest passage of literary criticism that I have ever read, being simultaneously narcissistic and incredibly awkward: an unmitigated disaster. Thus, my references to the Titanic in this review are not gratuitous. It seems fitting that this over-hyped collection's most vaunted poems are about a voyage that began with hubristic marketing of an "unsinkable" ship, only to end with a symbol of human arrogance and its chief officers vanishing, never to be seen again. Can Vallance and his anthology escape similar fates? Not a chance. I am reminded of a line from "The Convergence of the Twain" by Thomas Hardy: "What does this vaingloriousness down here?"

And because the anthology's numerous defects remind me of the Titanic's popping rivets and flooding compartments, I question whether readers will consider the book to be worth its cost, their valuable time, and the annoyances and frustrations they'll experience in their search for something of value. Unfortunately, the worthier poems may remain undiscovered as readers give up the search due to numerous quality control failures on the part of the anthology's editors. Or, more accurately, on the part of the editor who posed for the literary equivalent of "selfies" while at least four members of his crew pointed out the disaster looming on the horizon.

I was briefly one of Vallance's co-editors until I identified serious deficiencies in the material slated for publication. I and another editor were jettisoned after we candidly stated our opinions. Here's what the other dismissed editor had to say after viewing the parts of the book that can be read online (he refused to pay anything for the printed version):
The book is not a professional production because the editor wasn't up to the job. As a result the book has turned out to be very uneven. Quality is far from consistent. The editor has failed to prove himself a good judge. For that reason the anthology will not be regarded as serious, nor the collection as stellar. Considered as a whole it will be judged a failure. The weeding wasn't done, and the flowerbed is full of crabgrass. But there still are some flowers.
This, I believe, is an accurate and fair evaluation. The anthology's saving graces are its occasional flowers, if readers are not so discouraged by the weeds that they stop reading. The weeds are thick and sprout prodigiously, like literary kudzu, almost everywhere one looks. Some creepers crop up even before the gate is unlatched; these errors include, by my count, one on the front cover, five on the back, two in the masthead credits, and seven in the prefatory poem. And if readers are willing to dig long and deep enough, they will uncover some of the worst grammar, wobbliest logic and weirdest-looking punctuation ever to grace "Literature." Then, for the crowning touch, there's the very uneven poetry, which according to the aforementioned editor "ranges from the comically archaic and imitative to a style more in tune with the modern ear."

Two other editors who remained aboard the anthology's listing vessel told me that their suggestions for improvements were either ignored or overruled by Vallance; one of them also mentioned poets complaining that their poems, dedications and/or bios had not been published to their satisfaction. So the book's defects were pointed out to Vallance more than once, and yet he failed to inspect, much less repair them. Instead, he chose to fire, overrule or ignore the messengers. And so in my opinion, like the captain of the Titanic, he should take full responsibility for the results that occurred on his watch, while his hand commanded the helm.

The anthology contains a wide variety of imperfections, ranging from numerous typographical inconsistencies and other glitches that accumulate to make the book seem exceedingly chaotic and messy, to huge, jagged breaches like those the iceberg left in the hull of the "unsinkable" ship. The Titanic's advertisers were guilty of false advertising; I believe the same is true of Valance in his marketing efforts. The remainder of this review consists mostly of evidence to support my allegations and refute his.

The Tip of an Enormous Iceberg

Here is direct evidence, straight from the anthology's pages, to support my allegations. For so many atrocious passages to appear in a "major" sonnet anthology seems unthinkable, and yet this is just the tip of an enormous iceberg, as there are many more where these came from. And please keep in mind that in this initial sampling, I have quoted the editors Themselves.

True to form, sonnets 7 and 8 ... adheres to the paradigm. [Richard Vallance, editor-in-chief]
Oh then, down what infernal hole fell life, ... [Marie Marshall, deputy editor]
With strength of prayer I seek to wield I'm heavy laden, Lord, heavy laden yet our joint flames might form a sturdy shield. [Christine Aikens-Wolfe, editor]
An antique dew does moisten where Mab's print of thumb she lay ... To claim thee Mab I do persist ... [Gregory Vincent St. Thomasino, editor]
By hungers can some ills be diagnosed. [Becca Menon, editor]
Now her womb fluctuates obsessive echoes, echoes where once a life's blood was lighten ... [Robin Ouzman Hislop, editor]
Destruction reigned supreme along each side as forces indescribable collide ... [Eric Linden, editor]
... Arrayed in rows, the likes you've never seen ... [Richard Doiron, editor]
... where every time returned, a lesson brings, ... [Katherine L. Sparrow, editor]
I hold in my heart this share of your anxiety. the part of your nightmare you passed on to me. [R. W. Haynes, editor]
Little girl lost on rue St.-Laurent top tugged down her breasts to flaunt, ... [Carol Knepper, editor]
The oaths sworn in were sworn with prejudice; ... [Candice James, editor]
The world to an end shall come ... [David Seddon, editor]
The Chinese artist may come into conflict with ideological strictures of their society ... [Howard Giskin, editor]

Here we have fourteen ghastly passages by fourteen different editors. The fact that the editors failed to identify and correct such glaring defects in their own writing suggests that they were unqualified to edit a book of any sort, much less a "major sonnet anthology." Here are the observations of a friend of mine who has both edited and published poetry books:
Since I haven't seen the published anthology, it is hard for me to have any distinct impression of it. But from excerpts and quotations I've seen, I would guess that the anthology's main problem is pretension, an exaggerated claim to importance.

One would expect an anthology of Victorian or Elizabethan poetry to be full of antique diction.

But in a book purporting to be a collection of poems by contemporary writers, one would not.

And one would not expect either type of collection to be riddled with bungled language and botched typography.

At the very least, one would expect any such volume to be fully literate, and devoid of evidence of either editorial or authorial incompetence.

I could never have allowed a book I was editing to come out with the language defects that riddle this one. But I am fortunate in being able to SEE such defects.

When editing a book, one must comb through proofs again and again in order to be 100% sure that everything is as it should be. But no number of combings will help if the person doing the combing does not have enough command of language to spot mistakes and deficiencies.

Whoever did the combing for this anthology seems to have overlooked a large number of glaring deficiencies. Which to me strongly suggests, unless a supreme carelessness in the preparation of such an important contribution to world literature could account for it, that the editors simply didn't know what they were doing.
Unconventional Conventions

Because the anthology is full of weirdness that I prefer to reproduce as faithfully as possible, I have adopted the following conventions for this review:

• Quotations from the book are often indented, so that I can preserve the original punctuation "as is," without adding quotation marks to the mix.
• In examples of incorrect or questionable punctuation, I have used italics rather than encapsulating quotation marks (for instance, boss' rather than the harder-to-read "boss'").
• I have also used italics at times when quoting Vallance (for instance, in my references to his sonnet 7).
• If the capitalization and punctuation seem a bit "squirrely" at times, it's because I'm chasing something "nutty."
• When I am not referring to text as it appears in the anthology, I have used my own preferred conventions.
• When I think there is a better way of saying something, I have placed my suggestion in square brackets after the word(s) in question (for instance: "stedfast [steadfast]").

More Misleading Marketing?

After I published the original version of this review, I discovered five reviews written by "prominent literary critics, poets and sonneteers" of the Phoenix anthology. These reviews appeared together in The Eclectic Muse. Does it strike you, as it struck me, that it is highly unusual for "prominent literary critics" to review their own work? And why do some of them sound like star-struck teenagers, confusing their off-key piano banging for the second coming of Mozart, their pie-in-the-sky masterpieces for the real McCoy? One of the star-struck critics, Robin Ouzman Hislop, used the following terms to describe the anthology: "ambitious," "prodigious," "epic" and "monumental" (twice). Hislop also described the anthology's editors (presumably including himself) as "valiant" and "industrious." Collectively, he called the editors a "carefully selected board" even though, as this review will amply demonstrate, many of them would have a hard time passing a grade school grammar quiz. According to Hislop the editors invested "care," "knowledge" and "expertise" in the "daunting task" of "winnowing" the poems down from the thousands submitted to the ones finally published. But a considerable number of the poems published were provided by the editors and their friends and associates. Some of the poems with the most egregious errors were written by those dauntless, intrepid experts. Is that careful winnowing, really? Now, as an amusing way of questioning the critics' alleged prominence, here are quotes from their awkwardly-worded reviews:
The sonnet, a verbal medium, may be visualized as a screen or window onto shifting horizons.
It would be nice if those horizons included much clearer, far more graceful writing.
In its [i.e., the sonnet's] consummate artistry, it springs like the Phoenix from the ashes ...
The sonnet has long been the most popular English poetic form. When did it ever die, to require revival? Great sonnets were written in the twentieth century: "Acquainted with the Night" by Robert Frost, "Those Winter Sundays" by Robert Hayden, "The Unreturning" by Wilfred Owen, "Leda and the Swan" by William Butler Yeats, and "Love Is Not All" by Edna St. Vincent Millay, just to name a few. Also, the sonnet is a poetic form and does not itself possess "consummate artistry." (Discerning readers, for instance, will be hard-pressed to find any evidence of "consummate artistry" in any of the sonnets penned by the anthology's editors.)
What poetry genre, if any, is more concise or more polished than the sonnet for its keen lyricism, cascading, resplendent, layer upon layer, only to surprise us by rising to a pitch in the very last verse.
This is woefully bad writing and even worse logic. A poetic form like the sonnet does not have the property of lyricism, although the better poets and their poems can be wonderfully lyrical. But obviously there have been many terrible, bad and mediocre sonnets written, which were far from lyrical or polished, so no serious literary critic can ascribe such properties to the sonnet as a form or genre.
This cosmopolitan anthology firmly establishes the sonnet as the masterpiece in miniature it surely is ...
A poetic form like the sonnet cannot logically be called a masterpiece. Great artists produce masterpieces, but a form by itself is the equivalent of a blank canvas. While it is true that poets who mastered poetic forms have produced masterpieces, it is just as true that inept writers have produced dross using those same forms. Also, as we will see, the anthology is full of provincial, backward-looking language with a regional (i.e., Canadian) bias, and thus does not qualify as cosmopolitan. Furthermore, great poets of the past—poets like Petrarch, Henry Howard, Thomas Wyatt and William Shakespeare—wrote immortal sonnets long before the anthology's editors were gleams in their parents' eyes. So how can the anthology "establish" the sonnet in any way? Do "prominent literary critics" make three prominent mistakes in half a sentence?
The Phoenix Rising from the Ashes is a goldmine of material from a wide variety of contemporary sonneteers, promising to entertain readers with its eclectic choice of poems spanning virtually all subjects of vital interest in these beginning years of the twenty-first century.
I found the anthology, like these review excerpts, to be entertaining for all the wrong reasons. The editors seem to be the kings of unintentional comedy. And what sort of goldmine makes "eclectic choices"?
I say this new anthology is a monumental work because nothing really like it has ever been done before.
If the pyramids had been built only to immediately collapse into piles of dust, would they be considered monumental works today? Obviously not. For a work to be monumental, it needs to last and inspire awe, or, at the very least, considerable appreciation. But all the anthology inspired me to do was raise my eyebrows when I compared its editors' claims of greatness to the myriad defects of their alleged masterwork. Many bad books have at least been adequately edited. This one stands alone as a model of complete indifference to the requirements of good (or even halfway decent) writing. In my opinion, the book's more hubristic editors are much better at resting on imaginary laurels, than earning real ones. They should have read a poem they published, Percy Bysshe Shelly's "Ozymandias," and considered its implications for writers whose boasting vastly exceeds their ability to create anything enduring.
Since Canada is a bilingual nation, Chapter 2 [containing sonnets composed in French] is not translated into English.
What does this have to do with the price of tea in China? If the anthology is an international, cosmopolitan affair, as its editors claim, the linguistic policies of one nation shouldn't matter a hill of beans. Or if Canada somehow matters more than all the other nations of the earth combined, one can only hope that it goes unilingual soon, so that translations from French to English will no longer be discriminated against. Furthermore, if Canada's status as a bilingual nation precludes the translation of French poems into English, why did Vallance translate compliments paid to him in French, into English? That strange decision may give readers the impression that he thinks tips of the cap to him are more important than poems written by other poets.
Chapters 3 through 5 comprise sonnets in Spanish and English, along with sonnets in French and German, and ghazals in Farsi, all translated into English.
Here, Hislop contradicts both himself and Vallance, in very awkward English, by saying that French sonnets were translated into English, after all. Did Canada's bilingual status change between the creation of chapters 2 and 5? In his awkwardness Hislop also says that English sonnets were translated into English. (And yet some of the English sonnets penned by the editors Themselves remain virtually indecipherable!) Furthermore, Hislop fails to mention the Chinese poems translated into English in Chapter 5, which seems like a slap in the face to the world's most populous nation. There is also a Latin ode and its translation that go unmentioned. One wonders whether the editors bothered to read their own book. If they did, the question becomes: Why they have struggled so mightily to explain what they did, and to convince us that we should be impressed rather than puzzled?

Another contributing editor, Howard Giskin, has published praise-filled reviews of the book, including one posted on Amazon for which he was thanked "so kindly" by Vallance for helping to raise the amateurish production to an overall four-star rating. Should contributing editors write and publish self-serving reviews of their own work?

Giskin also struggles to write coherent, grammatically correct English, often failing miserably, as evidenced by these samples of his writing from the book:
Shakespeare's already moderately remote from us, that is our use of the English [because our version of the English language is so different from his].
She ... began to write poems in the 1980's and essays in [the] 1990's.
Daoism and Buddhism likely also have [have also probably] influenced Ma Lai, [since these are] thought systems which have had [a] lasting effect on Chinese culture ...
The Chinese artist may come into conflict with ideological strictures of their [his/her] society ...
The native sees [may see] clearly what's in the original though [yet] finds it [find it] difficult to recreate something elegant and true in another tongue. Similarly [On the other hand], for persons who have learned a foreign language it's hard to gain native [a native's] grasp of the emotional and syntactic nuances of another [a second] tongue. Thus [However,] work done by an English language native and source language native, if the alchemy is right, can yield translations that are more accurate, subtle and elegant than either could achieve [alone]. ... I like the idea of translation as a dialectic aimed at arriving at an elegant, though [if] ultimately inconclusive [not entirely faithful] version of the poem in the target language.
In the last passage above, Giskin clumsily claims that as a native English speaker and translator, he is able to recreate something "elegant" by working with a native Chinese speaker, if they have "alchemy" together. He uses the term "elegant" three times in apparent reference to his work as a co-translator of Ma Lai. But Giskin's English is far from "elegant." A more accurate description would be "atrocious." And no amount of teamwork can raise such terrible writing to the level of elegance, unless the teammate is a much better English writer than Giskin, gives him the boot, and starts over from scratch.

Do "prominent literary critics" struggle to state fairly simple ideas in coherent English? I think a more honest form of advertising might be: "Please buy our over-priced, horribly botched book so that we can finally afford to take remedial English courses at the local community college."

Classic Remix

Ironically, the editors couldn't get the prefatory poem right: the one that presumably provided the anthology with its name and theme. The book's first poem, Shakespeare's "Sonnet XIX," has seven transcription errors in fourteen lines, a 50% failure rate, when compared to versions that appear in No Fear Shakespeare Sonnets (published by SparkNotes), The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (published by MIT), Wikipedia and Shakespeare Online. According to these sources, there are three major errors in the anthology's version:
Make glad and sorry seasons as thou fleets [fleet'st]
But I forbid thee one more [most] heinous crime
O, carve not with the [thy] hours my love's fair brow
Here is the horse's mouth, so to speak: the poem as it appeared in the 1609 book Shake-Speares Sonnets. It seems clear to me that the correct words are the ones I have bracketed above.

Shakespeare Sonnet 19

The other transcription errors may be more debatable, as they have to do with the poem's punctuation and capitalization. (Perhaps one should say "discrepancies" rather than "errors" at this point.) The two most egregious changes in the anthology's version of the sonnet, in my opinion, are the exclamation marks that mysteriously pop up in lines ten and thirteen. These insertions seem completely arbitrary to me: why those lines and not lines two, four, seven, twelve and fourteen? In a similar vein, the anthology capitalizes "Phoenix" but not "Tiger." Why one and not the other? The seventh discrepancy is the lack of a comma after "wrong" in line thirteen. I would not have made any of the seven changes below; when in doubt I would have stuck like glue to the oldest extant text:

Devouring Time, blunt thou the lion's paws,
And make the earth devour her own sweet brood;
Pluck the keen teeth from the fierce tiger's [1] jaws,
And burn the long-liv'd Phoenix in her blood;
Make glad and sorry seasons as thou fleets [2],
And do whate'er thou wilt, swift-footed Time,
To the wide world and all her fading sweets;
But I forbid thee one more [3] heinous crime:
O, carve not with the [4] hours my love's fair brow,
Nor draw no lines there with thine antique pen! [5]
Him in thy course untainted do allow
For beauty's pattern to succeeding men.
Yet do thy worst, old Time! [6] Despite thy wrong [7]
My love shall in my verse ever live young.

Other anthologized sonnets by famous poets also contain transcription errors, some of them major. In "Bright Star" by John Keats the word "steadfast" is first misspelled "stedfast," then later is spelled correctly. In "Why Did I Laugh Tonight? No Voice Will Tell," also by Keats, there is a capitalization error in "o [O] mortal pain!" In Keats's "Answer to a Sonnet Ending Thus:-" there is either a spurious hyphen following the colon, or it should be an em dash. Also in the same poem two contractions appear to be facing backwards because they have left single quotation marks in place of apostrophes. A fourth poem by Keats, "Written in Disgust of Vulgar Superstition," has three punctuation errors. The title of Edna St. Vincent Millay's sonnet "I Will Put Chaos into Fourteen Lines" is missing and the words "not yet" are transposed within the poem. In Shakespeare's "Sonnet CXVI" one contraction employs a left single quotation mark, another a right single quotation mark. In "The New Colossus" by Emma Lazarus, two ungrammatical run-on sentences were created by the transformation of periods into commas. In Shakespeare's "Sonnet LIII" the inflection mark in "blessθd" is missing.

When Vallance was informed about transcription errors, some quite conspicuous, in what he mistakenly calls "classical" poems (when he means famous poems of the past), he accused the informant of trying to "rewrite" masterpieces. But of course he was only being advised to remove errors introduced by careless or incompetent copyists. When I pointed out glaring errors in the work of contemporary poets, and offered suggestions about possible corrections, Vallance also accused me of trying to "rewrite" the poems. Unfortunately, the book was doomed before its maiden voyage commenced because Vallance resisted valid criticism: a serious failing in the captain of such a large, complex project.

Too Many Mediocre, Derivative Poems

In his Introduction, Vallance claims that the anthology's editors have done their best to "ensure" that nothing written "simply" in the "spirit of sonnets past" was included. From these and other remarks, such as the anthology being called "major," "remarkable,""stellar," "epic" and "monumental," it would seem reasonable to assume that readers will find only exemplary, non-derivative poems written in superior modern English. But this is frequently not the case, as many of the poems contain archaisms, inversions, poeticisms and other forms of linguistic awkwardness. As evidence, here are excerpts from the poems:
Why, 'tis brave, and conquers doubt!
Cynic, behold, be changed!
If brows be perfect, hers, more perfect, lie.
Why am I thus mute when all around / rings so much clamor for the vanishing year?
Heartsick, he withdrew / to his country retreat, where nettles throve.
My musings were obscure if not bizarre / And written out in phrases that were terse.
It wasn't long and soon I could confide / In Vera, who wrote technically concise.
Beside the Loch of Stenness, where rise proud / The Standing Stones ...
Thou always claimed the sun arose therein; ...
'Tis ready to drink right out o' the cask, ...
The fickle autumn breathes her brumous breath / in swirling phantoms far across the wold, ...
The man bade his servant to fetch his cello.
By hungers can some ills be diagnosed. [Becca Menon, editor]
An antique dew does moisten where / Mab's print of thumb she lay ... / To claim thee Mab I do persist ... [Gregory Vincent St. Thomasino, editor]
Youth are fodder, guns for butter traded ... [Christine Aikens-Wolfe, editor]
The world to an end shall come ... [David Seddon, editor]
We travelled light with broken compass nigh, ... [Candice James, editor]
Of all the souls who've trod upon this earth, ... [Katherine L. Sparrow, editor]
... where every time returned, a lesson brings, ... [Katherine L. Sparrow, editor]
Mount Blanc exploded from her cargo borne. [Eric Linden, editor]
Little girl lost on rue St.-Laurent / top tugged down her breasts to flaunt, ... [Carol Knepper, editor]
... on fear and addiction she bases her life. [Carol Knepper, editor]
My world of paints I splatter, like a child, ... [Richard Doiron, editor]
I say to you of colors far and wide / each one's in place pursuant to a prod ... [Richard Doiron, editor]
The blackbird's hour — the time that steels / the twilight's lour ... [Marie Marshall, deputy editor]
Oh then, down what infernal hole fell life, ... [Marie Marshall, deputy editor]
Enough! Away! Avaunt! Begone, you lout! [Marie Marshall, deputy editor]
... so thrilling them they rain allegro tears ... [Richard Vallance, editor-in-chief]
If they run mad, though I may be God's fool ... [Richard Vallance, editor-in-chief]
Do such lines pass the tests of modernity and excellence? Were the editors "ensuring" that the poems published were stellar ones ready for the twenty-first century, or were they introducing archaisms, inversions, poeticisms and wrenching awkwardness in their own work?

Major Errors and Gibberish

Do the editors of major sonnet anthologies publish major errors and gibberish? In certain cases I have removed line breaks in order to make the problems below easier to identify.
I've seen the musk ox [oxen] form a British square ... their calves protected in the middle there ...
Some vainly seeking land, come [some] scurvy dead.
Bright star, would I were stedfast [steadfast*] as thou art ...
The lilacs that made the night heavy with scent, a purple was [wash] against the stars, are gone, ...
As each may [May] morning birdsong gladly greets, ...
And yet not grown but advanced in speech. With harmony and grace painted on her feet.
... his consciousness was chained by Duke (Savoy) to pillar's frost.
... and darkest tempest raging nights would taunt to dare to write to each for monstrous ends.
And this small fright fixes the maze below my soul's blue tiles in concrete.
The oaths sworn in [**] were sworn with prejudice; ... [Candice James, editor]
The boss' [boss's] wife smells of aftershave lotion. [David Seddon, editor]
Instead of genuflection [genuflecting] I cry aloud. [Christine Aikens-Wolfe, editor]
With strength of prayer I seek to wield I'm heavy laden, Lord, heavy laden yet our joint flames might form a sturdy shield. [Christine Aikens-Wolfe, editor]
... Arrayed in rows, the likes [likes of which] you've never seen ... [Richard Doiron, editor]
I hold in my heart this share of your anxiety. [:] the part of your nightmare you passed on to me. [R. W. Haynes, editor]
Destruction reigned supreme along each side as forces indescribable collide [collided] ... [Eric Linden, editor]
Daoism and Buddhism likely also have influenced Ma Lai, [being] thought systems which have had [a] lasting effect on Chinese culture ... [Howard Giskin, editor]
The Chinese artist may come into conflict with ideological strictures of their [his/her] society ... [Howard Giskin, editor]
The native sees clearly what's in the original though [but] finds it difficult to recreate something elegant and true in another tongue. [Howard Giskin, editor]
Now her womb fluctuates obsessive echoes, / echoes where once a life's blood was lighten [?] ... [Robin Ouzman Hislop, editor]
Your dream is as if of secret corners ... [Robin Ouzman Hislop, editor]
Elusive floats the memory that sings of those whose path with our lives intersects. [Katherine L. Sparrow, editor]
... Paul Muldoon, in [in an] interview, spoke ... [Richard Vallance, editor-in-chief]
They'll never acquiesce in [***] any urge to quell our fears of gales ... [Richard Vallance, editor-in-chief]
True to form, sonnets 7 and 8 ... adheres [adhere] to the paradigm. [Richard Vallance, editor-in-chief]
He was technically a stylistic master of the poetic medium ... [Richard Vallance, editor-in-chief]
* The word "steadfast" is spelled correctly later in the same poem.
** Oaths are sworn; human beings are sworn in.
*** Can one acquiesce "in" someone else's urge?

The errors above are just a small sampling of the book's linguistic attractions, or failures, depending on one's taste in writing. There are many more errors of grammar, syntax, style, spelling and punctuation: a veritable cornucopia of blunders addressed in more detail at the end of this review.

Cover Artlessness

The first words on the front cover seem wrong to me: "ANTHOLOGY OF SONNETS OF THE EARLY THIRD MILLENNIUM." Since many (perhaps most) of the poems were written prior to the year 2000, this seems to be more accurate: "AN EARLY THIRD MILLENNIUM ANTHOLOGY OF SONNETS."

The back cover contains multiple errors. It says the anthology contains "315 sonnets and Persian ghazals in English, Spanish, French, Spanish, German, Chinese and Persian," when the ghazals appear only in Farsi and English. The meaning of the word "classical" is misconstrued, a common theme throughout the anthology. There is an extraneous comma after Catherine Chandler's name. Vallance's extensive bio contains errors such as "and has and appeared" when he means "has appeared," and mismatched commas in a parenthetical clause. His bio ends in limbo, with "...Disaster!, of ..." (could the missing words be "Titanic proportions"?).

Vanity Unfair

Vallance's space-exceeding bio may be a clue that the anthology is primarily or largely a vehicle for ego gratification. I can't remember an editor of any other anthology, major or otherwise, using half the back cover for his/her bio. Vallance's name appears a mind-dulling eleven times on the covers, spine and opening pages. Inside and out, his name appears at least 41 times, by my quick, admittedly unscientific count. I probably missed others. Even worse, he repeats his title "Editor-in-Chief" over and over again, like a broken record. The name of his deputy editor, Marie Marshall, appears at least twelve times. Editors of anthologies normally take back seats to the writers they publish; this one seems to be the exception to the rule because the work of the editors and their associates dominates the book. For instance, of the pages most likely to be read — the opening pages — an astounding 88% contain writing cited to the editors and their comrades. I based this calculation on the first 25 non-blank pages, starting with the Preface. After 32 pages the percentage was still 81%. I couldn't make calculations beyond that, due to the appearance of poems by poets I am unfamiliar with. But it seems safe to say that the book's opening pages resemble a vanity affair, not a "major" sonnet anthology, unless the editors are themselves major poets. And I believe their writing disproves that theory.

When I was briefly an editor, I was told that poets would be limited to two sonnets each. But this rule was obviously waived for some of the editors and their friends. For instance, Vallance has nine poems, Marie Marshall six, Sarah Russell six, David Seddon five, and the unlikely-named "Potato of Terror" four. All are either editors of the anthology or associates of Vallance's through past ventures like Sonnetto Poesia, The New Pleiades Anthology of Poetry and Poetry Life & Times. Meanwhile, conspicuously absent are poets one would expect to find in a major anthology of contemporary sonnets: Richard Wilbur, Seamus Heaney, Anthony Hecht, Robert Mezey, A. E. Stallings, X. J. Kennedy, Wendy Cope, Richard Moore, et al.

One of the most vanity-press-like parts of the book is the section (pages 168-170) where Vallance publishes remarks about, and glowing compliments of, his translation of Shakespeare's "Sonnet LIII" into French. Vallance even translated one of the compliments from French to English, for the benefit of his readers! Curiously Vallance chose not to translate the anthology's French poems into English, as if compliments paid to him were a higher priority than other people's poetry. (For instance, he also published a complimentary letter written to him in French by Laurent Desvou and his English translation of the letter, moving the latter to the book's opening pages.)

Furthermore, Vallance seems to be unwilling to share his glory even with Shakespeare, since he lectures readers that "My version of William Shakespeare's Sonnet 53 is simply not to be construed as a running translation of the original. It is in fact my own original creation." (Here, as elsewhere in the anthology, Vallance tosses in superfluous words like "simply" and "running" for no discernible purpose.) Vallance's claim strikes me as an odd one, since I am unaware of any accomplished translator suggesting that translations are new creations so independent of the original work that the lion's share of the honor does not remain with the original authors. The translators whose notes I have studied are more likely to apologize for the fact that they were unable to reproduce poems with complete faithfulness, than to make freewheeling deviations seem like major coups.

Should Vallance keep tooting his own horn so persistently and so loudly? I think not, and here's another reason why ...

Unintentional Comedy

One of the more comical sections of the anthology can be found in Vallance's extensive notes about his Titanic sonnets, on pages 139-140. Vallance begins his commentary in the third person, calling himself "the author" as if someone else were commenting on his work (and expressing considerable admiration), before changing horses in midstream by switching to the first person. He stumbles on subject-verb agreement: "True to form, sonnets 7 and 8 ... adheres [sic] to the paradigm." There is a font change in the middle of a quotation, with the text suddenly shrinking in size. And there is some very messy, bizarre-looking punctuation. For example:
Likewise, the first line of sonnet 7 is a repetition of the last line of sonnet 6, "The dusk casts shadows on the drowning sun,", while the first line of sonnet 9 naturally is "..."Astern"! Propellers lash the ice they shred..."
Throughout the anthology, Vallance punctuates randomly: sometimes using the American method of keeping punctuation marks inside quotation marks, sometimes using the British method of moving punctuation marks outside quotation marks, and sometimes, quite curiously, doing both. He also inserts commas where they don't belong and omits them where they are required. Commas are used where semicolons are indicated, and vice versa. The format of em dashes changes from single hyphens, to double hyphens, to dashes of varying lengths that are sometimes preceded and followed by spaces, but sometimes not.

And confusion truly reigns when Vallance analyzes his own poetry in this hard-to-follow (and swallow) passage:
Sonnet 7 ironically ends with first-class passengers, Isidor and Ida Strauss, taking a last turn on the promenade deck (Deck A), before seeking shelter and warmth in the posh first class saloon. Ironic, because toward the end of the garland [of sonnets], the author returns to the old couple who opt to stay aboard, and go down with the ship rather than being parted from one another. In an ultimate gesture of bravery, Mrs. Strauss informs her husband, as an officer on deck offers her a place in a lifeboat, "We have lived together for many years. Where you go, I go." Later on in the garland, as the ship is going down, the author renders her wish as "We've lived together many years.", followed in the next line by, "Where you go, I go." in order to make her words conform with iambic pentameter. The author frequently resorts to actual conversations by certain of the crew and passengers to lend greater pathos to this, the most horrific loss of any ship in peacetime history.
In this queerly-punctuated linguistic mishmash, Vallance seems to be claiming that sonnet 7 ends ironically because the author returns to the Strausses when they choose to die together, rather than be separated. However, what Vallance is describing is not irony, but tragedy. The only claim for irony that I can imagine here is that the couple went inside for a drink, only to end up drowning in the drink. But if that's what Vallance meant, he could have said so much more clearly, in far fewer words. And there was no need for him to brag about his prowess as an ironist and penner of pathos-invoking pentameter in the process, which is what he seems to be doing, at least to me.

Vallance then poses the riddle below. If you can solve it, you can probably make millions on Jeopardy.
The sea's like glass this Sunday night. No moon
casts light upon the ice-pocked sea, where stars
are cast in bituminous black, in tune
with Ages Past.
What do you make of "Ages Past" and how do you think it relates to the Titanic striking an iceberg on a night without a trace of wind, when the sea was as smooth and reflective as glass?

Give up? I must admit that this "implicit reference" stumped me until I read Vallance's analysis of his sonnet 8. By the way, it is at this point in his commentary that Vallance reveals himself as the commentator, by slipping, perhaps obliviously, into the first person:
"Ages Past".... By resorting to capitals here, I am making implicit reference to the chilling lyrics penned by Isaac Watts (1674-1748) to the age-old hymn, attributed to William Croft (1678-1727)
O God, our help in ages past,
our hope for years to come,
our shelter from the stormy blast,
and our eternal home
There are a number of problems with Vallance's observations and the way he presents them. First, his reference is more obscure than "implicit." Second, Isaac Watts wrote "Our God, our help in ages past." (When John Wesley published the hymn, he changed the first word to "O.") Third, the lyrics above are more hopeful than "chilling." Fourth, William Croft wrote a wordless tune known as "St. Anne" that did not achieve popular recognition until after Watts added his lyrics. Therefore, it seems inaccurate to say that the hymn is attributed to Croft. Rather, the hymn's lyrics are attributed to Watts, its tune to Croft, and the hymn collectively to them both. Fifth, I question whether the hymn qualifies as "age-old," since there are hymns that are far more ancient. The oldest psalms in the Hebrew Bible, for instance, may be more than 2,500 years old. Thus, a term like "venerable" might be more accurate. Sixth, did Vallance reluctantly or grudgingly "resort" to employing capital letters in "Ages Past," or did he use them willingly? Seventh, why does his ellipsis contain four dots when the more common three are used elsewhere in the anthology? Eighth, why isn't there some form of punctuation, such as a colon, introducing the quoted lines? Ninth, why is there no mark of punctuation at the end of the quoted lines, such as a period or ellipsis? Do editors of major sonnet anthologies make so many errors in such a brief passage?

Perplexingly, Vallance seems to expect readers to somehow understand that "Ages Past" refers to the hymn "O God, Our Help in Ages Past," even though he fails to reveal the hymn's full title in his poem, or a footnote. He also seems to expect readers to know that the obscurely-referenced hymn refers to a "stormy blast" and that this somehow relates to the Titanic's fate, even though there was no storm, nor any wind, on the night the Titanic sank. He even insists that the hymn's lyrics are "all the more ironic, since there was no 'stormy blast' when the Titanic struck the iceberg at exactly 11:140 p.m. [sic], on Sunday, April 14, 1912." I beg to differ, because his obscure allusion to a storm when the sea was perfectly calm strikes me as confusing irrelevance, not irony. And in any case the lyrics themselves were not ironic. If there is any irony to be found, it must lie in Vallance's incredibly oblique allusion, not in lyrics that say what they mean.

In his commentary Vallance goes to considerable lengths to convince readers of his prowess as an ironist, but he only managed to convince me that he mistakenly believes the word "irony" means something like "unexpected" or "curious" or, as another poet put it, "god knows what."

Rocky Beginnings: Subpar Grammar, Diction and Logic

Did Vallance manage to create a good initial impression on new and prospective readers? No, the book gets off to a very rocky, uncomfortable start. Here are examples of his struggles with grammar, diction and logic, taken from the anthology's Preface, Acknowledgements and Introduction:
Chapter 5 demonstrates the fine art of poetry translation of sonnets in French and German, a translation of Horace's Latin Ode ... and ghazals in Farsi (Persian).
Does a chapter "demonstrate" ghazals that appear in their native language, or does it contain or present them? What Vallance meant to say, I assume, was something like: "Chapter 5 contains translations of French and German sonnets, a translation of Horace's Latin Ode ... and ghazals in Farsi (Persian)." But the chapter also contains translations of the ghazals into English, so not to mention them seems odd, and somewhat misleading.
Some of you may be wondering, why publish sonnets in so many languages?
According to the Summer Institute of Linguistics, there are 6,909 human languages, so it's debatable whether Vallance's six qualifies as "so many." I think "multiple languages" would have been better. But I believe Vallance is wrong about the number of languages employed in his own anthology, because I count sonnets in eight languages: English, French, Spanish, German, Chinese, Farsi, Shetlandic and Latin.
... multicultural, multilingual publications are becoming far more commonplace than ever before since the advent of printed books in the latter part of the fifteenth century.
This confusing passage borders on being gibberish. I think Vallance means to say something like: "... there are many more multicultural, multilingual publications today than at any time since the invention of the printing press." But because there are also many more such publications today than during the days of hand-copied books, parchment scrolls, stone tablets and cave drawings, that still seems wrong. It would make more sense to say something like: "... there are more multicultural, multilingual publications today than ever before." But in any case, his confused wording has no place in any sort of literature, much less a major sonnet anthology. And, as another poet pointed out, "His linking of Gutenberg's invention with an alleged recent increase in multicultural publications remains an insoluble mystery."
In the same chapter, we pay tribute to one of the twentieth and twenty-first century's most personable sonneteers ...
Since two different centuries are being discussed, it should be centuries' with an apostrophe after the "s."
By exception, we have opted to publish two poems which are not sonnets, these being Carol Knepper's quatrains on the famous rue Saint-Denis in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, which bring to life the joie de vivre in this fun-loving quartier of the world's second-largest francophone city.
"By exception" seems not only unnecessary and awkward, but nonsensical, and should have been omitted. Furthermore, the observation makes little sense because the anthology contains a variety of poems that are not sonnets: quatrains, Persian ghazals, Chinese poems, an ode, perhaps others depending on how strictly one defines the term "sonnet." Furthermore, it seems Vallance didn't bother to read Knepper's poems, which do not convey joie de vivre, but paint a very bleak landscape (especially the first, which is about a little girl who becomes a heroin addict and a prostitute, then ends up being murdered).
Occasionally, we include classical [sic] sonnets immediately preceding their contemporary counterparts, to illustrate the continuity between sonnets past and present raising similar concerns, or exhibiting elements of style and structural approach common to both.
This seems like more near-gibberish to me. Vallance may be struggling to say something like: "We have occasionally preceded contemporary sonnets with sonnets from the past, in order to demonstrate how much they have in common, stylistically and structurally, and how they frequently share similar concerns."
You are holding in your hands what is arguably the first major international anthology of sonnets in the twenty-first century.
In my opinion "major" is, indeed, very arguable.
... Paul Muldoon, in interview, spoke ...
Do "major" sonnet anthologies contain, "by exception," broken English?

Bio Brio

The anthology's bio pages remind me of the hype about the Titanic before it sank. Some of the poets seem to be intent on impressing us with their accomplishments, while lacking the ability to communicate those accomplishments clearly (unless the editors introduced the errors). The titles of poems and books often appear without the customary quotation marks and italics, respectively, making it difficult to tell where one title ends and the next one begins. Some words are randomly capitalized. Punctuation seems to be a matter of whim, with periods being dropped and commas inserted haphazardly. Quotation marks are mismatched. Grammatical errors abound. Archaisms such as "amongst" are employed. Vallance takes the liberty of inserting his thoughts into the bios, with comical results. Take, for instance, this curious locution in which Valance makes it sound as if W. H. Auden was "engaged" in fascism and that his engagement in fascism somehow related to his abilities as a poet: "He was technically a stylistic master of the poetic medium, frequently engaging in moral and political issues, especially fascism ..." (but Auden opposed fascism, and Vallance's remarks about poetic mastery sound like so much gobbledygook to me).

Vallance's bio is, unsurprisingly, the longest and windiest; it also contains random commas. Other editors with errors and/or moments of extreme awkwardness in their bios include Manavaz Alexandrian, Candice James, Carol Knepper, Eric Linden, Marie Marshall and Gregory Vincent St. Thomasino. The fact that some of the editors couldn't get their own bios right speaks worlds.

Furthermore, the editors sometimes speak of themselves and their associates in such flattering terms that it becomes embarrassing to the reader, or at least to this particular reader. For example, the bio of associate editor Eric Linden praises his "remarkable virtuosity as a poet comfortable with formal verse." However, one would suspect that the poems of Linden's that appear in the anthology are among his personal best, and lines like these don't qualify for such high praise, in my opinion:
Mount Blanc exploded from her cargo borne.
Destruction reigned supreme along each side / As forces indescribable collide [collided] ...
the gust / ... razed three hundred acres — leveled, gone [were the acres "gone," really?]
Here, as further evidence of the need for a bit more humility (or a lot), are examples of how the editors botched the bios of other poets:
Emma Lazarus (1849-1887) was an American poet born in New York City, best known for her sonnet, "The New Colossus" (1883), noteworthy for the fact that in 1903 it was inscribed in bronze on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty.
This is very awkward writing and the comma before the title of the poem implies that it was her only sonnet.

The first sentence in Shakespeare's bio sounds out of place in a major sonnet anthology: "Well, if you don't know who he is, you have a serious problem!" That makes me think of Kermit the Frog teaching toddlers on Sesame Street.

Percy Bysshe Shelley's bio is, in my opinion, a trainwreck.

The bio of John Keats concludes: "His sonnets are as equally as memorable as the rest of his magnificent poetry."

Edna St. Vincent Millay's bio is phrased very awkwardly in places, and contains a spurious hyphen after the word "which."

Dylan Thomas's bio contains random commas. It also says that Thomas remains popular today because he drank to excess. But there are many dead inebriates who remain completely unknown, so it seems safe to say that the great Welsh poet remains popular today because of his poetry. He may remain somewhat notorious for his legendary bouts of hard drinking.


In my opinion, this Phoenix is not rising from the ashes, but crashing in flames. Why? Because the anthology's captain either fired, overruled or ignored at least four of his lookouts when they warned him about the looming disaster. Thus, many necessary repairs were never made. The anthology is not a complete loss, because there are good poems here and there. But my fear is that readers may never reach the better poems because the book's multitudinous flaws discourage exploration. As another poet put it quite succinctly, "It would be too bad if all the book ended up inspiring in readers was a wish they could return it for a refund." Unfortunately, in my experience, that's very likely to be the case.

Errors Abound: Further Evidence for the Not-Yet-Convinced

The anthology is fraught with errors and inconsistencies, from cover to cover ...


• As demonstrated in excerpts above, the book contains, in places, truly bizarre punctuation, wrenching inversions, atrocious archaisms and horrendous grammar.
• In some poems em dashes are used but vary in length and thickness; in other poems one or two hyphens are used where em dashes are indicated.
• Sometimes spaces precede and/or follow em dashes, but not always.
• Sometimes three dots are used for an ellipsis, sometimes four, even when not at the end of a sentence.
• Sometimes a space precedes an ellipsis, sometimes not.
• Sometimes dedications and epigraphs are indented, sometimes not.
• Sometimes dedications and epigraphs appear in different font sizes, even on the same page (page 114, for example).
• Sometimes when a poet has two poems on a page there is a heading to that effect, but sometimes there is no heading at all (page 10, for example).
• Some poems have been published without the poets' names, forcing us to guess who wrote them (page 47, for example).
• At least one poet's bio is missing: Conrad Geller's.
• At least one poem was published without a title: Edna St. Vincent Millay's sonnet.
• The titles of poems are sometimes italicized and sometimes appear inside quotation marks, but most appear in plain text, making them difficult or impossible to identify.
• All notes have the same indicator, a single asterisk, making it very hard to match notes to their respective articles and poems.
• Roman numerals are used in the titles of Shakespeare's sonnets, with the exception of Vallance's much-ballyhooed translation of Sonnet 53.


• On the front cover, the first words printed seem wrong to me: "ANTHOLOGY OF SONNETS OF THE EARLY THIRD MILLENNIUM."
• Since many (perhaps most) of the poems were written prior to the year 2000, this seems more accurate: "AN EARLY THIRD MILLENNIUM ANTHOLOGY OF SONNETS."
• The first two pages contain masthead formatting errors such as lines that have been split for no apparent reason. Vallance's name appears eight times (five with his impressive title).
• The first poem published, Shakespeare's "Sonnet XIX" contains seven transcription errors, three of them major, when compared to sources cited in this review.
• The Preface (pages ix-x) is incomprehensible in places and contains errors noted elsewhere such as "century's," "classical" and "by exception."
• The Acknowledgements page expresses the hope that the anthology will be perceived as "remarkable." And well it may, for its remarkable number of uncorrected errors.
• The Introduction (pages 1-4) contains broken English ("Paul Muldoon, in interview, spoke ...") and other writing that verges on being gibberish.
• On page 6, the first page containing contemporary poetry, there are archaisms and errors: for instance, 'tis with a left single quotation mark rather than an apostrophe.
• On page 7, there are punctuation errors and an inversion ("Why am I thus mute when all around / rings so much clamor for the vanishing year?").
• On page 8, there are more inversions: "[her] top tugged down her breasts to flaunt" and "on fear and addiction she bases her life."
• On page 9, there is a run-on sentence in the second poem, with something indecipherable about a "wound" that is "lost in the winter chill."
• On page 12, the singular "ox" is used when there are obviously multiple "oxen." There is also a very awkward inversion: "... every time returned, a lesson brings."
• On page 12, there is more extreme awkwardness: "Elusive floats the memory that sings of those whose path with our lives intersects."
• On page 16, the hyphenated word "dark-blue" was transformed into the unwieldy-looking "dark — Blue" when the hyphen somehow became an em dash.
• On page 18, consecutive em dashes have different thicknesses, as if one is bolded.
• On page 19, there are more archaisms: "where nettles throve" and "The man bade his servant to fetch his cello."
• On page 21, the second poem seems incomprehensible to me: "the reed of a loom, / the guideways, of a loom, or / when suddenly, when suddenly ... etc."
• On page 22, there is yet another awkward inversion: "The world to an end shall come."
• On page 23, the possessive form of "boss" appears twice as boss' rather than boss's. There is also punctuation missing after "groaning."
• On page 23, there is also the indecipherable "... and darkest tempest raging nights would taunt to dare to write to each for monstrous ends."
• On page 24, there are clouds that rain "allegro tears" inhabited by stallions that will "never acquiesce in any urge to quell our fear of gales."
• On page 27, there are more awkward inversions, such as "Mount Blanc exploded from her cargo borne."
• On page 28, the famous poem "The New Colossus" is marred by two run-on sentences created by the transformation of periods to commas.
• On page 31, in a poem by Vallance one ellipsis has three dots and another has four.
• On page 34, the "rolled up" sleeves are not hyphenated but the "new-pressed" shirt is. The meter of "enquiring of their health with interest" is very awkward.
• On page 35, there are more archaisms, such as "Thou always claimed the sun arose therein."
• On page 36, the meter is beyond dreadful in lines like "For fretful fear will seize our fair city."
• On page 37, the Potato of Terror is put out to spud for lines so metrically awkward they are painful to read.
• On page 38, the word worth's contains a left single quotation mark, rather than an apostrophe.
• On page 38, on the very next line, the word Time's contains a right single quotation mark in place of an apostrophe.
• On page 38, in another poem the word 'Tis contains a right single quotation mark in place of an apostrophe, while o' contains a left single quotation mark.
• On page 40, there is a period after the word "occasionally" where there should be a comma.
• On page 40, the date format changes from "18 December 2009" without a comma, to "20 December, 2009" with a comma.
• On page 41, the date format changes yet again, to "20 December 2009" without a comma.
• On page 43, the archaic awkwardness continues with "Beside the Loch of Stenness, where rise proud / The Standing Stones ..."
• On page 43, there is also a transcription error: "Some vainly seeking land, come [some] scurvy-dead."
• On page 44, the two tribute poems to Vera Rich contain lines of wrenching awkwardness, like "And now discover here my rest begins."
• On page 47, the first poem is not attributed to a poet. A hyphen appears where an em dash is indicated.
• On page 48, the word "black-choked" was converted into two words by the transformation of a hyphen into an em dash.
• On page 50, there is yet another inversion: "Upon the ship of night I will embark."
• On page 51, the word "steadfast" is misspelled "stedfast," then is later spelled correctly in the same poem ("Bright Star" by John Keats).
• On page 51, inversions continue to reign with "Her russet hair shines bright as copper spun."
• On page 51, there is yet another archaism: "Her parted lips make unspoken behest." Does anyone talk like that, really?
• On page 54, awkwardness continue to abound with "So little time remained him" and "so clearly did that game reveal the score."
• On page 55, there is another inversion: "Across the valley sets an orange sun."
• On page 58, there is a rush of awkwardness: for instance, "until their glow is hopeless to discern."
• On page 59, "seed-spattered" is hyphenated, but "moon drunk" and "love drunk" are not. Archaisms and inversions continue to abound.
• On page 60, Ye Olde Englische continues to rule with "And clear the spurge from round the peonies."
• On page 60, inversions continue to dominate and decimate with "and he comes round, her tender cheek to puncture."
• On page 64, the time warp reenergizes its portal with "Resistance, whence the air derives its force."
• On page 64, things go from bad to verse with "the air from out the mouth."
• On page 65, the parade of errors continues with "The lilacs that made the night heavy with scent, a purple was [wash] against the stars, are gone."
• On page 64, inversions also continue to abound with "Each sonnet's getting harder now to write." (One can hardly disagree at this point.)
• On page 74, the medieval festivities continue with a picnic that "Is gaily with a feast of pastries laid."
• On page 66, inversions again dominate with "My world of paints I splatter, like a child."
• On page 67, a sonnet by John Keats is marred by multiple punctuation errors.
• On page 72, Ye Middle Englische again resurfaces with "The blackbird's hour — the time that steels / the twilight's lour ..."
• On page 76, the month of May appears as "may" and "May" in the same poem.
• On page 78, the term 60th. is treated as an abbreviation, with a period at the end, as if something follows the "th" (what?).
• On page 99, Emily Dickinson's name is misspelled "Dickenson."
• On page 110, the title is missing from the first poem on the page.
• On page 110, the word "you're" twice has a space after the apostrophe.
• On page 113, there is an incorrect comma between the subject and the verb "came."
• On page 120, the reserved symbol appears after the word "detritus" without a space, rather than after the reserved name "Play-Doh."
• On page 120, on the very next line the reserved symbol appears with a space, after the reserved name "Mattel."
• On pages 124-126, there are multiple punctuation errors in the poems of Sara Russell, including missing periods and the use of commas where semicolons are indicated.
• On page 140, in the middle of a quotation the font suddenly changes size.
• On page 183, the title of one translated poem is not italicized but the second one is. In one attribution the poet's name appears with an apostrophe, but not in the other.
• On page 193, there are grammatical errors: "Daoism and Buddhism likely also have influenced Ma Lai, [being] thought systems which have had [a] lasting effect on Chinese culture ..."
• On page 193, there is a grammatical error: "The Chinese artist may come into conflict with ideological strictures of their [his/her] society ..."
• On page 194, there is a grammatical error: "The native sees clearly what's in the original though [but] finds it difficult to recreate something elegant and true in another tongue."
• On page 233, the bio of John Keats concludes: "His sonnets are as equally as memorable as the rest of his magnificent poetry."
• On page 237, rather than "First Vice President" the term 1st. is used, with a period at the end, as if something follows the "st" (what?).
• On page 246, Vallance's name appears incorrectly in his own Author Index, as "Vallance, Richard ix, ..." (the "ix" should have been shifted to the right, to appear with the other page numbers).
• The page numbers attributed to Vallance appear on three highly disorganized lines, broken randomly, with the third line bleeding back into the name column.
• On page 247, the Title Index begins with a note that the article "the" is "clearly part of the title" of one poem, as if it is not clearly part of the titles of other poems containing "the."
• The comments about the poem in question ("The. Punctuation. Man") are, ironically, incorrectly punctuated.
• The book concludes on page 251 with yet more errors, as the title of the poem appears incorrectly in the final note, lacking the spaces (i.e., "The.Punctuation.Man.")

I found these anomalies during one quick scan through the book. How is it possible that the editor-in-chief of a major sonnet anthology was unable to find and correct these errors, when he had many months and a staff of co-editors and other proofreaders at his disposal? How is it possible that I pointed out a number of these errors to him months ago, and they still haven't been corrected?

The HyperTexts