I know I harp too much on this Michigan chap, but I do feel you can often get several kinds of nourishment from John Latta's comments : 1) an authentic report or history of a few decades of American poetry (starting in 60s); 2) a perceptive understanding of what poetic language actually does, ie., a real aesthetics; 3) a critical intelligence and a sharp critique of some of the hyper-rationalized or ideological or academic trends in the current scene. I don't always agree with him, but I always learn things with pleasure.

See for ex. comments on the image/metaphor today. Rather than indulging in the fashionable mockery-japery so prevalent on blogs, he finds a way to evoke & illustrate what "deep image" poets were aiming for; and in the process, provides a real sense of how poetic speech examines/humanizes/domesticates, weighs experience in the balance, all at once. I believe this was what Osip Mandelstam was getting at with his (Acmeist) concept of "domestic hellenism" - quoting very roughly from memory : "hellenism is the surrounding of the body and earthly life with the teleological warmth of beloved domestic objects" - the civilizing labor itself. Something akin to Bachelard's notions about how the poetic image, the human psyche, and the surrounding world all unite in that image...


AND, in this regard, see John Latta's fascinating post of today.

As everyone knows, we take language for granted. There's a reason for this. A lad carting a wheelbarrow doesn't want to stop & contemplate the invention, design, and special virtues of the wheelbarrow's wheel. In a world of struggle and necessity, we have to get on with things as efficiently as we can.

But life is more than work. As Welsh poet David Jones liked to point out, our aptitude for making non-utilitarian aesthetic objects (art) is what distinguishes the uniquely human from the generally animal. Poetry, too, is situated within that magic (playground) circle. And play itself grants access to otherwise disregarded elements of reality.

Goofing around with words, the poet stumbles upon a hidden treasure : language's native spring - the substance of naming itself. Who among the professional linguists and philologists has comprehended the intellectual wonder of Adamic naming?* When human mind, heart, lungs, throat and mouth first formed the intelligible signs for things? And gathering these signs and keeping them in mind, ordering them by imaginative precedent and law, began to articulate the grand, vast logical-rhetorical sea-going vessel of human speech?

What the poet does, in playing with words, is strike those original sparks of imaginative apprehension - the first (& prehistoric) Promethean fire. Thus the poet reiterates verbal representation with the pungent flavor, the sharp scent of that first encounter. This primal imaginative-intellective labor is what accounts for poetry's famous vividness; what Mallarme (and Eliot) meant when they spoke of their vocation as Donner un sens plus pur aux mots de la tribu (to render a purer sense to the words of the tribe).

Mankind the Word-Maker, the Playing Animal... one could go so far as to say that the poet, through free verbal play, recapitulates the human image - polishes it, in order to shine - a kind of microcosm of the human essence.

The poet must walk a tightrope between prosaic, utilitarian usage (which manacles naming under the sign of Necessity), and the arrogant artistic egoism and vanity which treats words as building material, as means not ends (splitting off words from their original naming function, and in doing so, deforming them).

*Giambattista Vico, for one.


Re-reading Welsh modernist poet David Jones's long poem, The Anathemata. Really something. He can pile on the wildest most obscure baroque language and references, because the narrative-thematic structure is deep, simple and strong. "Make your eye single, and your whole body will be full of light."

My poetry these days is banked by such steep cliffs, it's hard to climb down to the current. May keep the water clean, though.

Seems to be some focus on the Chicago blogs lately (Ange Mlinko's recent post at Harriet, Bob Archambeau at Samizdat) on issues of sensibility vs. knowledge. Relates very much to CT Christ's book Victorian & Modern Poetics (discussed in essay here). Of course, poetry should be where these two things happily merge. These lines from Anathemata brought me up short yesterday :

(For men can but proceed from what they know, nor is it for
the mind of this flesh to practice poiesis, ex nihilo.)


(note on previous : see poem by Mandelshtam (in Tristia) which begins something like this : "Upon a horse-sleigh laden with straw...")


Hurtling along goes Fontegaia-sled.

26  (A Fable)

Roughly 4000 horsepower-years ago
Abraham fashioned a delicate sled (more
delicate than words) for his dear young
Czar. As the Lord commanded, thus

he performed
. They slipped through snow
so smooth and slow - past Isaac's
Cathedral, the Bronze Horseman (relax,
!)... the little fellow knew, and didn't know.

It was like those games of knucklebones
the orphans play along the riverbank -
suspense lay in the suspended shank,
the spot of blood (the day's cartoons)...

Or like a dozing nation in a car
on the long ride home, bored
with the billboards' borrowed
flowers. Floored it (too far).

Far, far into the prodigal forest
fled the knife-like stream of silver
nail-filings. The cleft delver,
the Gold Glider, the last

train to St. Paul (1935 or so) -
fanned out across the iron prairie
where you lost yourself, Hobo - we
lost you. Now, time flowers (slow,

slow). And we'll go with you, Little King;
your anonymous loneliness, your meadow's
remorsefulness, your sorrowful shadow,
your lowness, Highness. You times everything.


Roll on, Columbia.


Thirsty numbers square with a dreamy
stream beneath the earth : sanguine
Siena's Diana, Hobo's Big Rock Brandy-
wine - Sinai-ycleft and cliffed Jerusalem.

Remote sky-colored source (Itasca, Tuscany?)
whence horses, chariots, amassed, proceed.
Hippocrene ripple in a clouded pool (mead-
fed) of soil : iambic caesura of golden honey...


And to fold a mirror into the heart of reality
is not the least Platonic or Plutonic rage.
Orbit of comet or black comedy - strange
will to laughter in (extreme) obscurity -

likened to parable, parabola, fitful absurdity -
The Unknown Soldier on an Horse (dragged
from his funeral to the heroine). Fagged
Fall Guy; autumn's Pumpkin King. A Mystery.


A one-ring circus shimmers at the edge of town.
Not far from the ferris wheel, among crickets,
in the meadow, among fireflies. No one forgets
your music, mock-orange (riverside, wind-blown).

Your heart a wine-fed river too, Hobo.
Lonesome, lengthened by rainbow stream
(slow Milky Way). Sown with a flighty flaw;
raised in a figurehead (her thunder-bough).


Fontegaia chapt. 2 is dawdling toward a close...


Hobo swings home, after senseless miles
drawn by the umbel of a Queen Anne's lace.
My weedy galaxy... your lonesome grace
rises from umbered earth to meet his smile.


Fontegaia... today's draught.

23  (a Masque)

The dogwood colors gradually, blushing
plum and russet, slowly reddening
to holly scarlet, then fading... til
each leaf, like kiln-fired clay, goes drifting

along the ground. So many stray horses,
lost in an autumn wood, all flames
And the chill in the air - the seraphim!
Terrific echoes from the future race

- boomerang into the past - the chariots
of Israel and her horsemen
! Elijah
leans near the gleaming throne, a grail-
ship in his hand
- Lord, suspended - floats!

The dark drops quickly now, a silvery
wrinkle of late-summer crickets (curtain
of homely sound). Soon my labyrinthine
morris dancer will emerge (memory

a buried well). Fleet companion,
lightfoot arborist... whose brook
slips past a forest door - dark book
of frittery wings (dried myrmidons).


House Organ #60, edited by Kenneth Warren, arrived today. I feel lucky to be getting this in my mailbox. The funny thing is how this little folded-over xerox-style magazine, full of quiet poets you've never heard of, mostly, is the best thing going in hopped-up, expensive America. Tom Epstein put me on to it, several years ago.
Fontegaia ripples along...


Another year leans down toward autumn.
Steadfast whine of Palio gone quiet now.
Stubborn yarn of hilltop-town (plow
upending vineyard-wake) only the hum

of absent hornets over a fallow stream.
Race of a twining J, milled (purling,
providential) through my veins. Preening
yearlings, tender feet in a mural scheme -

young scouts in alder labyrinth -
gnarled sign of constancy in suffering
(St. Kate, cartwheeling).
Siena gathers toward a last July. Absinthe

wormwood, rain; pale horses
neighing nigh, near splintered
almond tree (blooming anachronism).
My muttering (tracing their courses).


- moved The Garden of the Forking Ideologies over to the essays...


Fontegaia trickles in...


Inching onset of autumn. Occasional
drifting-down of dogwood leaf. A surf
of mock-orange, over the fading fence -
fragrant galaxy, vagrant, precessional.

A reader of teasing leaves predicts a fall
(perusing a book, pausing in backward
yard)... somewhere homeward
(angled in wayward words). Furled

are the ferns in the brazen furnace
Danny burnt with his Boy Scout wood-
engraving kit, his rod of iron. You bent
the future (reader dear) with tenderness.


Addendum to Integral Poetry essay :

I should probably try to clarify one of the leaps (or lurches) of logic in the second half of the essay. I talk about aspects of beauty which are not simply pleasing, charming, well-ordered. Beauty can be severe, critical - the way Beatrice treats Dante in the Paradiso. "Beauty is Truth, Truth Beauty" - as Keats's ode has it. But what exactly does this have to do with the subjective/objective dilemmas of recent American poetry?

What I'm trying to suggest is that beauty's "severity", its image of justice, its kinship with truth, is the very aspect which grants license to poetry's personal, experiential modes, its individual voices. It's what goads us as poets and readers to get beyond detached, self-enclosed formalism : beyond those artworks which seem to require an absolute distinction between beauty & life.


Shakespeare's Sonnet 105 famously applies that janus-faced word, fair :

Let not my love be called idolatry,
Nor my beloved as an idol show,
Since all alike my songs and praises be
To one, of one, still such, and ever so.
Kind is my love to-day, to-morrow kind,
Still constant in a wondrous excellence;
Therefore my verse to constancy confined,
One thing expressing, leaves out difference.
Fair, kind, and true, is all my argument,
Fair, kind, and true, varying to other words;
And in this change is my invention spent,
Three themes in one, which wondrous scope affords.
Fair, kind, and true, have often lived alone,
Which three till now, never kept seat in one.

A brief summa. Reminds me of this passage I just read in PK Dick's Divine Invasion :

"A man came to the great Rabbi Hillel - he lived in the first century, C.E. - and said, 'I will become a proselyte on the condition that you teach me the entire Torah while I stand on one foot.' Hillel said, "Whatever is hateful to you, do not do it to your neighbor. That is the entire Torah. The rest is commentary. Go learn it.'"
Not long after writing previous post, what crossed my desk? A very very fancy new edition (Arion Press, 2007), with artwork by RB Kitaj and intro by Helen Vendler, of the most famous pack-rat collage of the 20th century, The Waste Land.

You talkin' t'me?
That ever-sanguine peregrine falcon J. Latta talks today about, among other things, noise. Which is what, among other things, I talked about in this review of his book.

- but regarding noise, noisy Henry sez : it's not, au fond, a matter of selection, mes connoisseurs - you visualists, collagistes, surreal junk collectors... Even better : just listening. The listener adds nothing to noise but silence and rest. Listen long enough, then sing.
In a lifelong effort to reconcile Greek philosophy & Christianity (Hellenism & Hebraism), Simone Weil had a lot of deep things to say about the relation between beauty and justice. See her writings on suffering, mediation, geometry...
Integral Poetry is now over there with the other essays.
"Fair" : an old word that bridges the realms of aesthetics and jurisprudence.


Beauty : bit of tension there - like a bow-string bent by a beau. Something dear (something French?) in the crosshairs.
Beautiful is a beautiful word. More beautiful than beauty, almost.
Just finished Henry James's Wings of the Dove. Kind of beautiful in the severe sense, noted below.

Also reading PK Dick sequel to Valis (Divine Invasion). Kind of beautiful in the wacky sense.
Beauty & justice : brother & sister.
I love this brief sentence of Mandelstam's, which seems the best answer to the whole enormous Assyrian pile of 20th-century show-biz materialist-objective poetry construction projects :

"The Word is Psyche."




One of the advantages for the rank amateur and dillettante is that there is no professional compulsion to keep up with the intellectual Joneses, or track contemporary trends assiduously out of a sense of duty. Instead one can go on whim down odd paths, and find valuable things in out-of-the-way places.

One such find for me is a slim book published in 1984 by Carol T. Christ, titled Victorian & Modern Poetics (Univ. of Chicago Press). The author grounds her comparison of these two literary periods in a consideration of some primary qualities of the preceding Romantic era, to which the Victorians and the Moderns responded, as she shows, in quite similar ways (despite the polemic effort of the Moderns to distance themselves from their immediate predecessors). Christ argues that the main problem for poets of both periods involved trying to find a way out of the cul-de-sac of Romantic subjectivity and solipsism - inevitable dark twin to the latter's firm commitment to individual consciousness, perception and experience. And the technical solutions the poets of both eras found show some remarkable similarities. The dramatic monologue, the mask or persona, the striking or picturesque image, and the scaffolding of myth or history : all these techniques were taken up by the Victorians, and then borrowed (and tweaked) by the Moderns. All were designed, more or less, "to separate the poet from the poem" : to restore some kind of impersonality and objectivity - a common ground on which to outgrow the purely individual and subjective.

Today we find ourselves situated on the other side of the Modern era, among the "postmoderns" : an era characterized by at least two sharp swings of the stylistic pendulum. Both can be understood as effects of the great vitality and power of the Modern era in poetry. The first, in the mid-1950s, was a sharp turn away from what had become a kind of dogmatic crystallization of Modernist precepts of impersonality, formal autonomy, and tradition (sponsored by the post-Eliot, New Critical poets). It was felt that by following these precepts to their logical conclusion, poetry had become lifeless : no longer in touch with the imperfections, the contingencies, the mixed weakness and strength which constitutes ordinary social life. Poetry's rarified air had lost the human touch and the personal voice. Robert Lowell's post-Life Studies career exhibits the familiar paradigm for this mid-century turn; and in their different ways, the Beats, the New York School, the Objectivists, and the followers of the Olson/Williams "local epic" approach, all took part in this sea-change, toward the inchoate, the provisional, the imperfect, the personal. It was the beginning of what we call the postmodern era, and its effects were visible not only in literature, but in visual art, music, architecture : a willingness to express the idiosyncratic, the peripheral, the eccentric; a dismissive attitude toward "finish" or traditional form; an emphasis on human experience over impersonal aesthetics.

Ironically, this sharp pendulum-swing prepared the ground for its own reversal, back in the other direction. This happened roughly a generation later, in the 1970s and 80s. The personal, anecdotal lyric began to seem stale and contrived - to exhibit all the the old solipsism and what might be called "generic" individualism which had shadowed the Romantic movement from the beginning. Furthermore, the new intellectual forces of "identity politics" and postmodern critical theory both worked to dissolve, as in an acid solution, the narrated individual of the previous generation. The new style emphasized "textuality" and semantic/syntactical distortions. The self and its stories were either thrown out altogether, or subjected to a kind of lexical filter, a phase distortion, resulting in newly impersonal, autotelic documents. The poem was an object, existing independently from its maker and subsisting upon its own internal, verbal logic. The poet's business was not personal expression, but a kind of political challenge to coercive modes of social speech. This "impersonal" manner was exhibited in its (polemically) pure form in Language Poetry, but the latter shared similar postmodernisms with poets of the New York School, post-Objectivist, and other trends.

After a while, these pendulum swings start to resemble rotations of a merry-go-round. The autotelic remoteness of the "language school" and related styles mimics the "rigor" of the New Critical manner, as well as (in a funhouse mirror) the self-enclosed solipsism of the Confessionals. Aside from positing a general (very postmodern) End of History, how can we interpret these shiftings in a way that might help us get off the merry-go-round?

Let's recall the linchpin of Carol Christ's presentation : the motive for experiment for both the Victorians and the Moderns was the impasse of Romantic individualism and subjectivity. But Romanticism itself didn't arise from nowhere : it subsists in a continuum of developments and repetitions much like the later periods. That is, Romanticism is rooted both in Medieval poetics and in Renaissance individualism; both the Renaissance and the Medieval eras were, in turn, rooted in the Ancients. And if we look again at the general pattern of intellectual eras, we see that Romantic subjectivity was in part a reaction against the generalizations and laws - the objectivity - of Enlightenment Neo-Classicism, which was, in turn, a reaction against the baroque and eccentric excesses of Renaissance individualism. Our contemporary American paradigm shifts are reflected in these earlier oscillations. We can draw a simple tripartite graph of this history, as follows :

Ancient - Medieval - Renaissance
Baroque - Neoclassical - Romantic
Victorian - Modern - Postmodern

Examining this series, we notice not only a dialectic of mutuality and reversal, but several of the names of eras have a provisional or dependent quality : "neo", "middle", "post"... "ancient", of course, is the twin of "modern", "baroque" the challenge to "classical", etc. We note, also, a progressive foreshortening in the timespans of each era, as we approach the present, so that the recent oscillations in American poetry seem to be only the latest, briefest examples of a phenomenon of chronological perspective - an angle of acceleration.

From these observations, we can propose a couple of preliminary hypotheses : first, that the next mini-pendulum swing will probably be a return in the direction of the personal and the subjective; second, that the progressive periodic foreshortening suggests the approach of a time when we will be able to transcend this entire polarity. The Ancients resolved the difficulty by means of separate modes (epic, lyric, dramatic); the Moderns by means of particular techniques (masks, myths, histories). Both of these were partial "solutions" to the conundrum of subjectivity - that human mystery, or mystery of humanism, which came to the fore during the Renaissance and Romantic eras, and was most systematically sidelined during the Neo-Classical and Modern eras.

With this general scheme and my two hypotheses as preliminaries, I would like to outline something I'm calling integral poetry. By this I mean something more than a simple synonym for "good poetry", and something less than a polemic for a particular manner or technique. Rather, my term, as I will define it, offers a basic context (by way of the traditional revolutionary method - the return to first principles) for the appreciation of the new poetry on its way.


These are some definitions of "integral" which I would recognize as functions of the evaluation of new poetry. Stemming from the latin adjective integer - "whole, entire" - an integer (in English) is either, in mathematics, a natural number, or, more generally, a "whole entity". The adjective integral, then, is defined as (among other things) "essential to completeness", or "composed of integral parts" (ie., integrated). Integral poetry, then, is in some sense complete, or whole - because it is an integration of essential parts (themselves "integers" - ie. integral, whole).

This wholeness is, basically, the integration of two integrities : subjective and objective. Integration requires synthesis, rather than those excisions or rejections evident in the periodic (and polemical) oscillations we have described. In other words, we will renounce neither end of the polarity, but find a way to unite the two. We can do this by way of an analysis of each.

First, then, what do we mean by "subjective integrity" in relation to poetry? But in our times, what term has been more "problematized "(in tandem with the relativizing of all terms) than subjectivity? To begin with, I would simply state as axiomatic that subjectivity and personhood are fundamental values or qualities of experience, which are reflected in fundamental characteristics of poetry. In this context, however (and perhaps in every context), the personal itself is inherently relational in nature. The personal is a paradoxical both/and : both unique and inter-personal. This important corollary allows us, for the time being, to set aside all the sharp disputes over the status of social and individual identity, which seemed so important for the American literature during the previous two decades. If the personal is a function of both uniqueness and relationship, then the expressive arts have a basis - in the personal itself - for transitive social interaction and mutuality. There is an element of equality or kinship with others, in everything we call individual and personal.

Consequently, the art work - the poetic "object" - is always shaded, qualified, surrounded, suffused, in its objectivity, by the subjective and the personal. This, as we know, is the familiar centerpiece of the Renaissance and Romantic eras. Shakespeare (after Chaucer) inwove inimitable individuals within the fabric of his verse. Wordsworth and Keats, in turn, transported the scale of moral and emotional types into interior dramas of psyche and personality. But we do not have to return inevitably to the usual opposition of subjective and objective, of epic impersonality and lyric "I". If the personal is in a certain respect the interpersonal, then even dramatic poetry - traditionally the most "impersonal" and social of poetic modes - is also shaded or qualified by the subjective. Aristotle's analysis (in the Poetics) of the interest or appeal of dramatic poetry describes three paths by which this interest flows : ethos, pathos, and logos. These are the avenues of subjective response and audience reception, respectively moral, sensible (via empathy), and intellectual. In ancient times they were understood in a framework far less individualistic than they are today; yet even the anti-personal, collectivist attitude of Brechtian "epic" theater relies on a foundation of subjective response.

A poetry of "subjective integrity", then, would integrate, and reflect, aspects of personal engagement or response. The personal inhabits and shades the art work; the art work presents a provisional synthesis of human invention and personality.

What do I mean, on the other hand, by "objective integrity"? Here I am thinking of the poem not as personal testament or social experience but as aesthetic object. Integral, remember, is defined as "essential to completeness". Let us say that a poem exhibits "objective integrity" if, and only if, it is beautiful. Beauty is the substance of aesthetic value. In Aquinas's presentation, the integral elements of beauty are : consonantia (proportion), claritas (clarity, brilliance), and integritas (wholeness).

Again : for Aquinas, integrity (wholeness) is one of the integral qualities of beauty. But if we're going to follow Aquinas with regard to our definition of beauty (which thus requires wholeness), then we cannot achieve integrity in our definition of "integral poetry", unless we can synthesize its objective aspect (beauty) with its subjective (inter-personal) aspect. Thus our logic runs into a kind of Chinese finger-puzzle. Aquinas's objective wholeness requires the integration of an aspect which is not in itself objective.

I would resolve this, paradoxically, by a reminder that beauty, as anatomized by Aquinas, is not necessarily pleasing, ie. merely pleasant (ingratiating, entertaining). The "charm" of beauty, which leads us on, may be severe, sublime, tragic. It may be critical and purgative; in fact, according to Aristotle, the deep interest which poetry holds for us consists in its power to balance and purge the passions. Here we arrive again at the crux of the problem which divided the postmoderns from the moderns, the Confessionals from the New Critics, the Language Poets from the Confessionals. Life is not a work of art or a beautiful poem. On the other hand, life without art is less than human. Still, art separated from life is empty, vain, dead. These are the contraries on which the epochs of literary style waver back and forth.

But when we recognize that the beautiful work of art is not exactly the same thing as the pleasing, the sentimental, or the comforting diversion - that the pleasure it provides may be rigorous, severe, critical, purgative, ethically scrupulous - then we can understand how subjective, personal experience (at the root of our interest in and response to art) might fuse and reside together with objective beauty. We can recognize how the postmodern dismissal of great and perfect modernist works - on behalf of the fragmentary, the abject, the middlebrow, even the ugly - was itself part of the struggle to find, in Stevens' words, "what will suffice" (and, moreover, what suffices in strictly aesthetic terms). Yet on the other hand, if we are willing to accept the notion of the personal as integral to the art work, we can see that the attempt to divest poetry of the subjective, the individual, the experiential - on behalf of (ethically) depersonalized formalisms - was also an example of an oscillation to the extreme, since the result was only to establish a new form of dissociation (into two halves) of one whole.

Thus an integral poetry requires the integration of these two fundamental categories of human experience. An integral poetry is suffused with the personal, the subjective, and the individual. The register of its integrity is the degree to which, in its characterizations and symbols, it deepens and complicates our sense of "identity" as ethical beings. Paradoxically, the subjective integrity of an integral poem will depend in part on the (subjective) qualification of its aesthetic objectivity - and vice versa. An integral poem is the record of a unique consciousness and personality; it reflects, simultaneously, the impersonal (sometimes severe and painful) justice of objective beauty.

Thus, in the integrity of the poem, the polarities of stylistic change, once in balance, become the irreducible values of its design.


Good essay by Brian Phillips in current Poetry on "taste" & contemporary anxieties in poetry world... concludes without definitive "conclusions", an invitation to new ideas. Very worthwhile reading.

Would like to respond somehow, & am looking over essays around Chicago School, quietude, ethos etc. for guidance.
Bumbling around some prose ideas lately, thinking about Borgesian relation between persons and books, re-reading wonderful book-length essay on Proust by Roger Shattuck (Proust's Binoculars) & discussion of dynamic between memory and forgetting (oubli), Rip Van Winkle etc.; walked to local public library branch to drop off some books, standing at the counter a voice says "Henry Gould", I turn and there stands poet Stuart Blazer (author of Ricochet) - whom I haven't seen for a long time, but I mentioned I had noticed him in the newspaper, where he was quoted at a special "Proust day" at the Athenaeum library (Poe's old hangout)... I said, "are you still living in Adamsville?", he said, "Henry, it's been longer than you think... I've been in Portugal for five years..."

(Stuart has some poems in this issue of Nedge:)


Reading my NY Poets anthology (Padgett/Shapiro, 1969) now. I think I still like some of what I liked back then, and dislike all of what I disliked. Is this (not) a good sign? Still vastly enjoy the silliness, the light touch. Like John Perreault especially. John Giorno adds a different note (serious). Can smell the Ashbery & O'Hara (over-)imitators in less than a nanosecond.

Ashbery, actually, I find sort of depressing, despite his skill. There's a fatalism, a pessimism, a cynicism about saying anything... in the approach to his recalcitrant lyric-dreaminess he has to spin so many cobwebs... of course, he was the one I liked the most... remember reading the "Ella Wheeler Wilcox" fandango aloud to people while laughing hysterically...

This was one of the anthologies I read, but there was a big red paperback - an earlier anthology, that was my real introduction to this stuff. Will have to try to identify it.