7 Poems From The '90s That Prove The Decade Was An Incredible Time For Literature
If you grew up in the '90s like I did, you're probably hoping that the nostalgia-laden love fest never ends. There are endless way to indulge in your '90s-ness, and personally the Ultimate Trivia Game for True '90s Kids seems like a pretty decent way to spend an lunch hour, but let's face it: sometimes, you need to come to the '90s on your own terms. Internet friends who probably also played and loved the computer game "Are You Afraid of the Dark?," I give you ... '90s poetry.
Oh, you know poetry was totally thriving in the '90s. And not just because the decade's best lyricists — Fiona Apple, Tori Amos, Jewel — were really MFA candidates in disguise. Remember poetry slams? (Did your middle school try and fail to host them like mine did?) The Poetry Foundation credits them with "[revitalizing] interest in poetry in performance."
What's really fascinating, though, is how the political consciousness of the best decade is resurfacing today, with or without the addictive nostalgia. Remember? In Clueless, Cher Horowitz could allude to Greenpeace and Amnesty International. Want another reason to crush on the last decade of the last millennium? Check out these seven poems.
1From "On the Pulse of Morning" by Maya Angelou
You, created only a little lower than
The angels, have crouched too long in
The bruising darkness
Angelou read this inspiring poem at Bill Clinton's Inauguration in 1993.
2"trouble with spain" by Charles Bukowski
but everybody's angry at me.
Bukowski, he can’t write, he’s had it.
washed-up. look at him drink.
Bukowski, who died in 1994, paved the way for some of the 1990s addictive, grungy nihilism.
3"[Desire and disease commingling]" by Derek Walcott
This is the music of memory, water.
Walcott, who died last month, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1992.
4"The Breathing, the Endless News" by Rita Dove
Children know this; they are the
the trailings of gods....
Dove was the Poet Laureate of the United States from 1993-1995, but even her earlier work is a precursor to the '90s zeitgeist.
5"Anti-Short Story" by Rae Armantrout
A Langauge poet, Armantrout captures that '90s rebel bad-assery. She's both edgy and blunt. This (extremely) short poem will stick with you for a long time.
6"Things I'll Not Do (Nostalgias)" by Allen Ginsberg
Not myself except in an urn of ashes.
The Howl legend died in 1997, and this was the Beat's last written poem.
7"The Idea" by Mark Strand
But that it was ours by not being ours,
And should remain empty. That was the idea.
Strand was named the Poet Laureate of the US in 1990. The New York Times Book Review's Alfred Corn described Strand's work as: "a poetry written, as it were, in the shadow of high mountains, and touched with their grandeur.”