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AI, pseudonym of Florence Anthony Biography

(1947– ), pseudonym of Florence Anthony, Cruelty, Killing Floor, Sin, Fate: New Poems

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American poet, born in Tucson, Arizona, of mixed Japanese, Choctaw, African-American, and Irish ancestry, raised in Las Vegas and San Francisco, and educated at the University of Arizona where she immersed herself in Buddhism. Her eclectic and peaceable upbringing makes a striking contrast to the world of her first collection of poems, Cruelty (1973), soliloquies which speak from, and to, sexual violence, abortion, hanging, the conflicting energies of lust, suicide, and child-beating. AI's style of poetic utterance has rarely been other than tough-edged. In Killing Floor (1979), the poem ‘The Kid’ assumes the voice of a boy-murderer who methodically and pathologically destroys his entire family only to emerge sweet-faced and apparently undisturbed. Sin (1986) attempts a yet more complex series of personae—ruminations, for the most part, of men of power, from the Kennedy brothers to Joe McCarthy to Robert Oppenheimer, although in ‘The Good Shepherd: Atlanta 1981’ the speaker, chillingly, is the anonymous mass-murderer of Atlanta's black youth. Fate: New Poems (1991) offers a gallery of characters, notably General George Custer, Mary Jo Kopechne, Elvis Presley, Lenny Bruce, and Lyndon Johnson.

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about 4 years ago

I found Ai's poems exceptionally good, mainly because she speaks through an assumed persona in so many of them, in the manner of Robert Browning. I particularly liked the poems in which public figures-JohnF. Kennedy, J. Edgar Hoover and others speak through Ai.

"Finished" and "Killing Floor" are also very good.

Lastly, Ilike her constant use of the left margin-no open form gimmmicks. Michael walker.