I was in a hurry and grabbed "Poems For Men." I thought I'd critique it in terms of what it marketed to men and boys. However, the title wasn't reflective. This isn't a collection of various men. This is a poetry book by Damon Runyon.
I can't figure out the copyright page. First it says 1915. I think that's the first poem. The last date is 1947. Who knows. From the book flap:
Born in Manhattan, Kansas, in 1880, Damon Runyon never got beyond the fourth grade in school, yet today he is represented in more anthologies by a greater variety of stories than any other writer of any nation. Accompanying his father, a roving printer, he picked up a practical education and at the age of sixteen was earning a living as a reporter.
Poet, sports writer, war correspondent, short-story writer, and columnist, he achieved international fame with his songs and stories. At his death, he was mourned by millions in the United States, England, and elsewhere, for no poet since Kipling had been taken to heart by so many ordinary men.
I know of Damon Runyon through movies. A number of films I like are based on his stories. Bob Hope's "The Lemon Drop Kid" is an example of one.
It's a war volume and he's usually gung ho for it. There's a series of poems on an adult male -- mocking him and other adult males of that race -- called "moro boys" -- and I felt it was racist. Sorry.
I'm sure it didn't come off that way in real time. I'm sure it was 'great eye there, Damon, you really captured those natives.' But today it comes off racist. I wasn't impressed with the collection. I was expecting more about cities and got tons and tons of war and parades and blah blah. (His stories also resulted in the film "Guys & Dolls." I thought we'd get stories like that when I realized it was a collection of his stories.) I can't figure out why anyone would read these. They meander and they lack focus.
And, as I said, some strike me as clearly racist. Sorry. Expected to love it. Always thought the man sounded interesting. Then I read this volume. And, yes, I'm aware it probably wouldn't have been seen as racist by most when it was published, that doesn't mean it's not racist today. (Also true, "Birth of a Nation" was praised widely in real time. But the NAACP did have the good sense to protest the film.) That's life.
Going out with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"