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5 ANTHOLOGIES DESERVE A LOOK BY POETRY LOVERS

Perhaps poetry has lost much of its impact as an artform over the years, but the people who practice it have never been more devout or determined to make a difference. Here are several new books of verse worth your time:- "The Best American Poetry," Charles Simic, editor; David Lehman, series editor (CollierBooks-Macmillan; $13; 352 pages). This anthology bravely asserts each year that poetry is not dead in America. Poems are culled from periodicals published in the previous year.

- "After Aztlan: Latino Poets of the Nineties," edited by Ray Gonzalez (Godine; $24.95, cloth; $15.95, paper; 224 pages). Poems by poets of Hispanic origin writing in English.

- "A Book of Women Poets: From Antiquity to Now: Selections From the World Over," edited by Aliki Barnstone and Willis Barnstone (Schocken; $18; 822 pages). From the Sumerian moon priestess, Enheduanna (2300 B.C.) to present-day poets, this collection covers six continents and four millennia.

- "The Rag and Bone Shop of the Heart: Poems for Men," edited by Robert Bly, James Hillman and Michael Meade (Harper Collins; $25; 192 pages). Poems for everyman, from scientists to truckers to middle-managers, are organized by themes, such as "Approach to Wildness," "Mother and Great Mother," "War" and "Zaniness."

- "American Indian Poetry: An Anthology of Songs and Chants," edited by George W. Cronyn (Fawcett Columbine; $10; 336 pages). One of the first collections to recognize American Indian songs and chants as an indigenous art form. Poems are organized by region and tribe.