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The Best American Poetry 2013 PDF, ePub eBook Edited this year by beloved and inventive poet Denise Duhamel, the foremost annual anthology of contemporary American poetry returns. Over the last twenty-five years, the Best American Poetry series has become an annual rite of autumn, eagerly awaited and hotly debated: “an essential purchase” (The Washington Post). This year, guest editor Denise Duhamel brings her wit and Edited this year by beloved and inventive poet Denise Duhamel, the foremost annual anthology of contemporary American poetry returns. Over the last twenty-five years, the Best American Poetry series has become an annual rite of autumn, eagerly awaited and hotly debated: “an essential purchase” (The Washington Post). This year, guest editor Denise Duhamel brings her wit and enthusiasm and her commitment to poetry in all its wide variety to bear on her choices for The Best American Poetry 2013. These acts of imagination—from known stars and exciting newcomers—testify to the vitality of an art form that continues to endure and flourish, defying dour predictions of its demise, in the digital age. This edition of the most important poetry anthology in the United States opens with David Lehman’s incisive “state of the art” essay and Denise Duhamel’s engagingly candid discussion of the seventy-five poems that made her final cut.

30 review for The Best American Poetry 2013

  1. 5 out of 5

    Joseph Spuckler

    The Best American Poetry: 2013 edited by David Lehman is a latest in the Scribner Best American Poetry series that has been running since 1989. Lehman is also the editor of The Oxford Book of American Poetry and the author of several books of poetry. He teaches at The New School in New York City. Denise Duhamel is the guest editor of this series who writes the introduction. She is the author of several volumes of poetry. Lehman writes the forward and it carries a Shelley theme. Duhamel has a ligh The Best American Poetry: 2013 edited by David Lehman is a latest in the Scribner Best American Poetry series that has been running since 1989. Lehman is also the editor of The Oxford Book of American Poetry and the author of several books of poetry. He teaches at The New School in New York City. Denise Duhamel is the guest editor of this series who writes the introduction. She is the author of several volumes of poetry. Lehman writes the forward and it carries a Shelley theme. Duhamel has a lighter approach and opens with “If you are reading this you are not dead” in response to the Mayan Calendar and the end of the world in December 2012. For those who think poetry is not for them or that poets are all uptight and overly “sensitive.” Duhamel early on tells the reader that the first three poems have the word “f*ck” in them and two of those three poems also have the word mayonnaise. That should intrigue the non-poetry readers. Her introduction alone makes me want to find her books of poetry and and move them to the top of my reading list. Some of the poems are moving like “Pachyderm,” about a boy with the paraplegic father (Vietnam) who loses his brother to an IED in Iraq. “Death” is moving and eerie. There is humor, or more so critique, of America is in the “Statue of Responsibility” and “All American.” There is even a poem mocking George Bush's changed heart. 'The Art of Drinking Tea” is a pretty amazing poem in itself and displays the the difference between the sexes version of enlightenment. “New Jersey Poem” is a powerful poem, one of two dealing with suicide. Some poems are moving in their support of the art itself like “Why I Write Poetry.” “What's so funny about racism/ is how racists never get the joke” begins the poem “Blazing Saddles” and yes it is about the movie. The reader will get more than a subtle hint from the timely poem “Syria.” There is something for everyone in this collection. “The kind of Man I Am At the DMV” was one I could relate to. Having to keep my hair in a pony tail at work, a child once yell out to his father, “That man has girl's hair and a pink rubber band in it.” You can't explain to children that men can have long hair, especially in Dallas. It's even more difficult to explain that the hair bands come in a variety pack and yes, one of the colors is pink, and it means nothing more than that. The Best American Poetry has something for everyone and more than likely a lot for most. Poetry ranges from verse to almost prose in paragraph form. If you don't like poetry you'll like this collection because it will show you that poetry is much more than “An Ode on a Grecian Urn” or rhyming couplets. This collection is also current to out present culture and easy to relate to. If you like great poetry or are a bit shy of it, this book is perfect for you.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Virginia Aronson

    "By the way," remarks former Poet Laureate Billy Collins in the end notes of this year's collection of supposedly the wowest poems American poets have conjured up, "is anyone who is not a poet reading this?" Good question. I would guess the answer is a very soft no. This is because most Americans don't consider themselves "poetry people." And a collection like this will do little to change their minds. Why? Because post postmodern poetry is too cute. It's esoteric and academic. It's language gymna "By the way," remarks former Poet Laureate Billy Collins in the end notes of this year's collection of supposedly the wowest poems American poets have conjured up, "is anyone who is not a poet reading this?" Good question. I would guess the answer is a very soft no. This is because most Americans don't consider themselves "poetry people." And a collection like this will do little to change their minds. Why? Because post postmodern poetry is too cute. It's esoteric and academic. It's language gymnastics, handstands and backflips in Greek mythology and classic lit. It's written for other poets and poets in training at university settings. Most of it does not appeal to everyday readers. For them, it's off-putting. The 2013 collection is not all over-your-head verse, however. There are some very cool poems in this year's edition. Statue of Responsibility by Stephen Dunn is dynamite. Makes you think. As does All-American by David Hernandez. Mary Ruefle's Little Golf Pencil is absurdly wonderful. Victoria Kelly's When the Men Go Off to War takes flight. There are others. But I had hoped for more from this year's guest editor Denise Duhamel, who has been bringing us her own accessible poetry since the 1990s. Her poetry is laugh out loud funny, crisp social satire—like her series of poems about Barbie dolls. Many of her selections for this compendium are from her peers, that is, America's most widely rewarded poets. With NEA, Guggenheim, MacArthur and whatever else grants, these are the recognized poets who teach at Columbia and Princeton, who publish collected volumes of their work. The poets who are highly regarded in elite literary circles. (As a friend remarked, one day the section with the contributors' bios will be longer than the poetry section.) So why can't the more celebrated poets draw in everyday Americans who readily memorize song lyrics but think poetry is too difficult to understand? Personally, I would have liked to see some new work by outsider poets. Poems by the kind of people who scribble on napkins in pubs or write in dark basements after the night shift ends. The people who publish their work in those small lit journals that take risks and accept unusual poetry by unknown writers. I wanted to see crazy little gems by undiscovered poets. I wanted to read memorable poems by writers who are speaking to everyone, not just their fellow poets. Oh well. Maybe next year. I was wowed by a few poems in this year's collection, and look forward to seeing what the editor for the 2014 edition selects.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Peycho Kanev

    Sugar Maples, January What years of weather did to branch and bough No canopy of shadow covers now, And these great trunks, when the wind’s rough and bleak, Though little shaken, can be heard to creak. It is not time, as yet, for rising sap And hammered spiles. There’s nothing there to tap. For now, the long blue shadows of these trees Stretch out upon the snow, and are at ease. Richard Wilbur

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Lawrence

    A careful selection of 75 poems published in North America in one year deemed “the best” should yield some truly rewarding reading experiences, but unfortunately this is one of the weaker volumes in this series. It all comes down to the guest editor, Denise Duhamel, who favors the type of poem she tends to write: slight poems that are content with a quirky perspective, a one-liner, a quick turn-of-phrase, hip pop references, and that aspire to arrive at something that feels like a half-truth or A careful selection of 75 poems published in North America in one year deemed “the best” should yield some truly rewarding reading experiences, but unfortunately this is one of the weaker volumes in this series. It all comes down to the guest editor, Denise Duhamel, who favors the type of poem she tends to write: slight poems that are content with a quirky perspective, a one-liner, a quick turn-of-phrase, hip pop references, and that aspire to arrive at something that feels like a half-truth or at least sounds genuine in tone. These types of poems are eminently chatty and good-natured, and if you feel disappointed that they don’t really reward serious and dedicated attention to musicality or insight, you can at least take comfort in the fact that they can easily be consumed in about the time it takes to get from one crowded subway stop to the next (quite a few feel like they were dashed off on e-paper under the same circumstances.) After this volume, it dawned on me what a truly pervasive influence James Schuyler and Frank O’Hara seem to have on a good number of publishing poets! I also feel they have an affinity with the type of “new essayists” that Adam Kirsch criticizes for writing “the essay as reality television”: “…’love me’ is their all-but-explicit plea”—which is okay unless the reader is turning to the poem not to fall in love with a chatty and quirky exhibitionist but with the world the poem ostensibly engages with and/or the language it engages the world with. A lot of these poets insistently build their poems around one-liners or a slight turn of phrase, and the big names associated with that jokey, observational aesthetic that so desperately wants you to love them are well represented (John Ashbery, Billy Collins, Tony Hoagland, Laura Kasischke, James Tate, David Trinidad; I was very surprised that Dean Young wasn’t included!) The resultant tone, to give a more or less random example, is a moment like David Kirby riffing “poetically” on passion and invoking Tristan and Isolde: “…Want an example of a beautiful story? Take Tristan And Isolde: Isolde of Ireland is betrothed to King Mark of Cornwall, who sends his nephew, Tristan, To Ireland to escort Isolde back to Cornwall. Big mistake! They do it, King Mark finds out, everything Goes to hall in a handbasket. So what makes it a beautiful story? Not because it ends happily, which it so doesn’t….” Yeah, he’s right, it so doesn’t! This passage has “big mistake!” written all over it; its flippant tone all but compels me (and I hope any other passionate reader) to immediately set Kirby aside and go read a truly beautifully written poem or story such as…Tristan and Isolde! I suppose the breezy, conversational tone so prevalent throughout this year’s selected poems is meant to convince a reader that contemporary poets are keenly in tune with the Zeitgeist and hip to the language on-the-street or being tweeted as we speak, but after a while the poems blend together and it begins to sound like the monotonous, self-satisfied hum of a crowded Williamsburg bar (there’s a whole ‘Poem for Anne Sexting,’ for Pete’s sake – get it/nudge-nudge…). The good news is that there are a handful of gems in the book; the half dozen stand-out poets for me were Sherman Alexie, Amy Gerstler, Victoria Kelly, Sally Wen Mao, Richard Wilbur, and Kevin Young. I also enjoyed two seemingly self-conscious occasional poems by Anthony Madrid and Mitch Sisskind that seem to fit more into an Ogden Nash tradition than the jokey-but-seriously-folks trend I’ve been criticizing. In the end notes that give each poet’s birth year, birth place, education pedigree, list of publications and awards, Madrid writes one of my favorite passages in the whole collection: “Of all the pieces in the present collection, this one surely has the lowest ambitions. It existed, floor to ceiling, for a long time before I even wrote it down. I believed, during that period, that the poem had no future, and that the only people who would ever hear it would be the persons whose idiosyncrasies are encoded within it. The whole thing is code. Code and more code. I sent it to Poetry as a joke. And now it’s in this thing, and people are going to think this is how I write.” LOL! Based on that revealing comment of the poem’s joke origins, I will give Mr. Madrid the benefit of the doubt and seek out his other work and give it a fair shake. I just hope that any casual reader who might pick this volume up in a Barnes & Noble to check in on the state of American poetry in 2013 also might not readily fall into thinking that the jokey tonal quality of Duhamel’s selection typifies all American poetry these days because, thankfully, it doesn’t.

  5. 4 out of 5

    TJ

    I had such a hard time making it through this whole anthology. There are flashes of good and flashes of great but so much bad. Like, the poem that gets the most space, 13 pages of space, Mitch Susskind's "Joe Adamczyk," is a boring-ass narrative of some man's later-life identity crisis and self-awakening through mathematical philosophy and younger women? Brought on by his wife's menopause? It's edgy or exciting for a male poet to write a male character who thinks about a woman as a "cunt" while I had such a hard time making it through this whole anthology. There are flashes of good and flashes of great but so much bad. Like, the poem that gets the most space, 13 pages of space, Mitch Susskind's "Joe Adamczyk," is a boring-ass narrative of some man's later-life identity crisis and self-awakening through mathematical philosophy and younger women? Brought on by his wife's menopause? It's edgy or exciting for a male poet to write a male character who thinks about a woman as a "cunt" while he's fucking her? I'm mad that Denise Duhamel made me read this trash. Speaking of edgy -- Aaron Smith's "What It Feels Like to Be Aaron Smith," is it supposed to be edgy, too? A poem about all the things you're not supposed to write about? That's not edgy, it's a cop-out. Aaron Smith, you shouldn't feel "guilty" for "laughing when Jeff says his messy apartment looks like Afghanistan," you should feel really very embarrassed. And probably ashamed, because I think shame is a stronger affect than guilt, maybe. Maybe 'you should be embarrassed' is the point, but fuck you. I hated "Eggheads" by John Koethe, too, some tired social/political criticism about "stupidity" being in "style." I'm mad that I had to read any shitty poem some clueless overly-praised white American man wrote. Do I have to say more than "Tony Hoagland"? No? Okay. I'll stop. I'll tell you what I loved. I loved Jericho Brown's "Hustle," loved Traci Brimhall's "Dear Thanatos," loved Kwame Dawes' "Death," Sally Wen Mao's "XX," Maureen Seaton's "Chelsea/Suicide," Sherman Alexie's "Pachyderm," Stacey Waite's "The Kind of Man I Am at the DMV," Kevin Young's "Wintering." I mean, thank goodness for Jericho Brown, I'm incredulous about a poem of personal prison histories and racism actually making it into this anthology. But thankful, as I often am for Jericho Brown. Oh, final note -- I really could have done without the vaguely patriotic introduction essays.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Brad Hodges

    "Poetry mustn't try to compete with the sound bites of politics or the breezy vapidity of pop culture. Rather it should serve as the antidote for them." So writes guest editor Denise Duhamel in The Best American Poetry 2013. I have a confession: I often don't get poetry. I'm a fairly literate guy, and I love the idea of poetry, of the romantics like Byron and Shelley, the debauchery of Baudelaire and Rimbaud, the Beat Allen Ginsberg. But when I try to read it my eyes glaze over. I'm not quite sur "Poetry mustn't try to compete with the sound bites of politics or the breezy vapidity of pop culture. Rather it should serve as the antidote for them." So writes guest editor Denise Duhamel in The Best American Poetry 2013. I have a confession: I often don't get poetry. I'm a fairly literate guy, and I love the idea of poetry, of the romantics like Byron and Shelley, the debauchery of Baudelaire and Rimbaud, the Beat Allen Ginsberg. But when I try to read it my eyes glaze over. I'm not quite sure that is, but don't think I'm alone. I just think I never learned how to read a poem. But I rolled up my sleeves and read the 75 poems in this volume. As one might expect, they were all over the map. I liked some of them a great deal, and others might as well have been written in Urdu. Philistine that I am, I prefer poems that have a set structure, or that rhyme, and there were few of them here. But a good number of them I found intriguing. Death was a pretty common subject. There were poems titled "Dear Thanatos" and "Thanatopsis." Two poems were about dead cats, including "Death," by Kwame Davis, which includes the lines: "...you coax a black cat to your fingers. You let it lick milk and spit from your hand before you squeeze its neck until it messes itself, its claws tearing your skin, its eyes growing into saucers. A dead cat is light as a live one and not stiff, not yet. You grab its tail and fling it as far as you can. The crows find it first; by then the stench of the hog pens hides the canker of death." Many other subjects were broached; it was something startling to see how many different subjects one can write a poem about. Titles of some of the poems are "George W. Bush," "Blazing Saddles," and "Albert Einstein." One of my favorites of the collection are a series of haikus by David Trinidad (I love haikus, one of the easiest and hardest forms to write) by all dealing with episodes of the TV series Peyton Place, one for each episode. Two of the best: "Would you want Charles Dickens read to you if you were in a coma?" "Amnesia might be a blessing--best to forget she's part of this script." Some of my other favorites were "Divine," by Kim Addonizio: "You lived on grapes and antidepressants and the occasional small marinated mammal. You watched DVDs that dropped from the DVD tree." Stephen Dunn's "The Statue of Responsibility" "Imagine it's given to us as a gift from a country wishing to overcome its own hypocrisy. I can see someone standing up at a meeting and saying, Give it to the Americans, they like big things for their people, they like to live in the glamour between exultation and anxiety. Instead of an arm raised with a torch, let's insist they cement its feet deep into the earth, burden it with gigantic shoes--an emblem of the inescapable." "Book of Forget" by Rebecca Hazelton "I danced after the knife thrower threw his blades and before the velvet clown kicked away his chair and hung himself, his tongue thick and purple, urine dribbling down to the boards." Some of the poems had just one line that grabbed me, such as "All-American" by David Hernandez: "Jesus never leveled his eye to a bedroom's keyhole," and "I don't hunt but wish every deer wore a bulletproof vest and fired back." Or "Five One-Minute Eggs," by Andrei Codrescu: "The German economy thrives because Germans make 'the thing that goes inside the thing that goes inside the thing.'" My other favorites include "Pink Is the Navy Blue of India," by David Kirby, "Eggheads," by John Koethe, "Sugar Maples," by Richard Wilbur (it actually rhymes), and "Florida Poem," by Emma Trelles, which I quote in its entirety: "After summer rains, marble thumb snails and beetles blot the window screens with pearl and drone. Gardenias swell, breathing is aquatic and travel a long drawl from bed to world. During drought, the heat becomes a devil girl with oven-red lips who wants your brain puddled in a brass-capped mason jar, who wants the silver stripped from your tongue, the evening pulse between your legs, yes, she wants everything from you." The longest poem was "Joe Adamczyk," by Mitch Sisskind, about a Chicago bartender who late in life becomes an intellectual. It could be made into a lovely short film, as he leaves his wife, becomes absorbed in philosophy, and ends up having sex with the pizza delivery girl. A few standout stanzas: "Also available were White Owl cigars, And Cubs' home runs were called White Owl Wallops by Jack Brickhouse On the TV set above the bar. But the Cubs lost during the 1950s." and "He gamahuched Karen Schmolke with startling Enthusiasm. Cunt, slut and similar words Eddied and swirled in his brain. Yet a logos, A telos, was also disclosing itself, cleverly interweaving his fucking with philosophy." Gamuched? What a great word! That's the thing about poets is that I learned by reading this book. No one makes a living as a poet--this is a labor of love. I'm frankly surprised that there is such a number of journals and magazines that publish poems. But they take things seriously, using their words extremely carefully, and the way the lines are structured, it's almost like an art. Series editor David Lehman writes: "In America we have had stereotypes of the poet as clown prince, beatnik, nervous wreck, nature-loving recluse, world-besotted aesthete. Formerly an eccentric spinster, she may now be a self-actualized role model and possibly even a concerned citizen on PBS or NPR." Bless them all.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Tootah

    Thoughts jotted down (digitally, because everything is digital these days) while reading: - Didn't even finish reading the foreword. David, you are such a fucking bore. - Jericho Brown's "Hustle" had me looking out the window and rethinking my whole life. - Kwame Dawes' "Death" was just very beautiful. - "See everything; overlook a great deal; correct a little" (Stephen Dunn, "The Statue of Responsibility") - "My talent is in looking like someone you want when the lights are on and like anyone who'll Thoughts jotted down (digitally, because everything is digital these days) while reading: - Didn't even finish reading the foreword. David, you are such a fucking bore. - Jericho Brown's "Hustle" had me looking out the window and rethinking my whole life. - Kwame Dawes' "Death" was just very beautiful. - "See everything; overlook a great deal; correct a little" (Stephen Dunn, "The Statue of Responsibility") - "My talent is in looking like someone you want when the lights are on and like anyone who'll do when they're off." (Rebecca Hazelton, "Book of Forget") hmmmmmm... - David Hernandez's "All-American": some good shit that explores what it means to be American and all the different things that comprise this singular identity, specifically w/r/t Mexican-American identity... I guess. I don't actually know for sure since this is poetry. - Yes, Mark Jarman's "George W. Bush" is as uncomfortable to read as you think. - Lauren Jensen's "it's hard as so much is": why? just why? - "What's so funny about racism is how the racists never get the joke ... This joke, like an aloe released on a wound, like a black man trying to do a job in a town in which he's not wanted, like a black man unzipping his pants in ... " (A. Van Jordan's "Blazing Saddles): listen, I could quote the whole poem, because that's what I really wanna do. But I'm not gonna. One of my favorite poems in this collection--less to do with its subject matter, but it just sounds so nice when it's read out loud. It's got a roll-off-the-tongue quality to it. - Victoria Kelly, "When the Men Go Off to War": liked the idea, iffy about the execution. - J. Allyn Rosser, "Intro to Happiness": this is just a fun poem, okay, about a professor getting joy from scaring students into dropping his/her class by assigning a lot of work. Obviously I wouldn't find this fun or funny if it was me (because I have been that student in that class), but from the outside looking in, it sure is entertaining. - Stephanie Strickland, "Introductions": are...you...fucking...kidding...me? this is what the Best American Poetry of 2013 consists of? "ruinful ruinous ruin us Noo Yawk." And that's just the 2nd line of the poem! The very definition of WORD. VOMIT. I just can't with poetry sometimes. Looking back at this, I'm kinda surprised at the amount of bad things I've had to say. I mean, this collection was definitely bad to me, but as I was reading it I was thinking it was more boring and at times too abstract and "artsy" for me to really enjoy or understand (literally me to myself at times when reading this collection: "maybe I'm not *~cUlTuReD~* enough!! woe is me"). Now, in hindsight, I'm realizing it's not as much boring as it is just not my thing. Maybe if I knew of this edition's editor and his/her writings before reading this anthology I would have had a better understanding of his/her picks, but as things are now I am Very Disappointed (TM). Can't be too up in arms about it to be honest because there were some legitimate gems in here too, which I've mentioned above.

  8. 5 out of 5

    C

    A Duhamel edited volume of Best American Poetry? I'm in!!! But... Strangely, I ended up loving far fewer poems than usual in this volume and actively disliked more. I thought Duhamel would be closer to Adrienne Rich's editing style, honestly, but her choices stay pretty safe. It's still an interesting look at what is currently popular in American poetry (even if American poetry is only read by poets as Billy Collins aptly states in his endnotes) though, as always, it leans too heavily on academics A Duhamel edited volume of Best American Poetry? I'm in!!! But... Strangely, I ended up loving far fewer poems than usual in this volume and actively disliked more. I thought Duhamel would be closer to Adrienne Rich's editing style, honestly, but her choices stay pretty safe. It's still an interesting look at what is currently popular in American poetry (even if American poetry is only read by poets as Billy Collins aptly states in his endnotes) though, as always, it leans too heavily on academics and the established big guns. All that said, I really liked the poems from Maureen Seaton, Anne Marie Rooney, Aaron Smith, and D. Nurske. A great birthday gift from the fabulous Caroline which reminded me that I haven't read the volumes from the last couple years yet. I should get on that. I expect they'll be much the same as this year. Edit: Forgot to mention how depressing it is each year to see more and more poets my age or younger. A knock against me rather than the volumes.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Nicolle

    I've read a few of the Best American Poetry series and this one feels weaker. I can't tell if it's my particular taste but that's what this review is based on. I feel like quite a few of the selections are ones I would not expect to find in a "best" collection. Furthermore, there is always something to be desired when the formatting is off on an ebook when considering poetry or prose. Format means a lot when someone is writing either poetry and prose. This alone made me mark down two stars. I ca I've read a few of the Best American Poetry series and this one feels weaker. I can't tell if it's my particular taste but that's what this review is based on. I feel like quite a few of the selections are ones I would not expect to find in a "best" collection. Furthermore, there is always something to be desired when the formatting is off on an ebook when considering poetry or prose. Format means a lot when someone is writing either poetry and prose. This alone made me mark down two stars. I can't get behind what I feel like is butchering the work by poor formatting. There were a few poems that I loved, in particular Foundling by Billy Collins selection but then again I love most of his work. Here are the other standouts: Major Jackson - Why I Write Poetry Nin Andrews - The Art of Drinking Tea Pachyderm - Sherman Alexie I'm hoping the 2014 collection has some more polished pieces and they work on their formatting. I received this book from Netgalley for free in exchange for an honest review.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Oswego Public Library District

    Longtime poetry enthusiasts and newbies alike will enjoy The Best American Poetry 2013. Anthologies like this one are a great way to be introduced to different poets, poems, and prose. Seventy-five poems are included from both well-known and up-and-coming poets. Look for poems by Sherman Alexie, Billy Collins, Thomas Lux, and Amy Lemmon. 2013 is the 25th anniversary of The Best American Poetry books. –JM Place a hold on The Best American Poetry 2013by clicking here. We also have the 2004, 2008, 2 Longtime poetry enthusiasts and newbies alike will enjoy The Best American Poetry 2013. Anthologies like this one are a great way to be introduced to different poets, poems, and prose. Seventy-five poems are included from both well-known and up-and-coming poets. Look for poems by Sherman Alexie, Billy Collins, Thomas Lux, and Amy Lemmon. 2013 is the 25th anniversary of The Best American Poetry books. –JM Place a hold on The Best American Poetry 2013by clicking here. We also have the 2004, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012 editions.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Dustin

    I typically enjoy reading "The Best American Poetry" series to get a sense of what's "in" in poetry circles. I have my favorites, and this is usually a great way to sample a nice mix of authors. Maybe it was the guest editor's (Denise Duhamel) selections and her style, but there were very few poems that I connected with. What a crazy start! The first three poems dropped f-bombs. While not easily offended, I was surprised that the odds would favor that type of language in the opening set. I came a I typically enjoy reading "The Best American Poetry" series to get a sense of what's "in" in poetry circles. I have my favorites, and this is usually a great way to sample a nice mix of authors. Maybe it was the guest editor's (Denise Duhamel) selections and her style, but there were very few poems that I connected with. What a crazy start! The first three poems dropped f-bombs. While not easily offended, I was surprised that the odds would favor that type of language in the opening set. I came away with just two gems: "Foundling" by Billy Collins and "Why I Write Poetry" by Major Jackson. I'll be curious to see who the guest editor for "The Best American Poetry of 2014" includes, but if it's anything like this year, I'm not really looking forward to it.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Joey Gamble

    It's no secret that "best" is a dangerous modifier, but these poems achieve it in all the ways that they can. Though I am saddened by Duhamel's contention that online journals are doing a disservice to the upcoming generation of poets, I think she has dispatched the duties of her editorial position judiciously. These poems run the gamut in form and style; while no one volume can grasp the breadth of American poetry at any particular time, this one makes a valiant attempt. For any serious student It's no secret that "best" is a dangerous modifier, but these poems achieve it in all the ways that they can. Though I am saddened by Duhamel's contention that online journals are doing a disservice to the upcoming generation of poets, I think she has dispatched the duties of her editorial position judiciously. These poems run the gamut in form and style; while no one volume can grasp the breadth of American poetry at any particular time, this one makes a valiant attempt. For any serious student of contemporary American poetry, this is an important volume to spend time with.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Antonia

    I can't believe that anyone would think this the 'Best" American poetry. No wonder the public doesn't care about poetry. I like Duhamel. Her own work is so much better than most of what's here. I do very much like Nin Andrews - The Art of Drinking Tea. And a very few others. But overall, very disappointed.

  14. 4 out of 5

    SmarterLilac

    Not my favorite in the BAP series. I really didn't care for a lot of these pieces. Some had the usual amount of sincerity and intrigue, some were shallow, vapid and bizarre. I was expecting better from Denise Duhammel's turn as guest editor. A lot better. Highlights include seeing the ever interesting Kim Addonizio and Dorianne Laux together again.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Cara Ellison

    These get worse every year. This collection was weak and uninspiring.

  16. 5 out of 5

    T Fool

    Being a poetry judge – any judge – requires, next to a body of experience, a removal of bias, what we call ‘fairness’. David Lehman, the series editor of The Best American Poetry, has come to show this in his choice, over the years, of guest editors whose style preferences vary. This variance is in keeping with what over the past 40 or 50 years has come to be a standard way of appraising many things. We’ve become uncomfortable with any overarching set of criteria, any ‘dominant narrative’, and f Being a poetry judge – any judge – requires, next to a body of experience, a removal of bias, what we call ‘fairness’. David Lehman, the series editor of The Best American Poetry, has come to show this in his choice, over the years, of guest editors whose style preferences vary. This variance is in keeping with what over the past 40 or 50 years has come to be a standard way of appraising many things. We’ve become uncomfortable with any overarching set of criteria, any ‘dominant narrative’, and focused on particulars – perspectives, localities, values, and so on – and found ‘culture’ blossoming out of ‘sub-culture’. They didn’t deserve the earlier diminishment, we’ve released them from prejudicial prisons, we have come to ‘walk the walk’ of our democratic ‘talk’. No blame, then, can be assigned to Denise Duhamel working within that deconstructive frame. No blame to us, either, as equals, for reading the pieces as presumptive equals in themselves. If there is to be value seen, it’s in our equal handling, our equal appreciation. The guest editors, perhaps all of them, concede the difficulty of weeding through hundreds of periodicals and thousands of poems in order to pick ‘the best’. But wait. They must notice (and must some of them have admitted) the tension between equality of treatment and assessment of excellence. Ms. Duhamel concedes this, I think, but remarks that a further sticking point for her was the term “American”. She, like important writers she mentions, some of whom contributed to this volume, feels American lit should mean something beyond America’s own borders. She, along with Lehman in his Foreword, feels that poetry gives notice – even when barely noticed – of the change in the air, tries, when importing the moment of the times, to export what it may actually be swaying toward. Poetry, likely in all times, has been engaged with the world in which it has been written. Lyric poetry, short ‘musical’ pieces along the lines of those here, always seems to verge on what has come to be thought a dirty word: “solipsism”. But even the most private of poems demonstrates the sensitivity of the ‘macro-stirrings’ of social change. It’s no shame to display the internal reverberations. However engaged the poems here appear to be, they’re all from a perspective, they’ve all been germinated from a singular locus, a societal nexus – forgive me: a person. For a reader, choosing among the offerings is a crapshoot. If the count is correct, there are 75 poems in The Best American Poetry 2013. As I read over a two-month period, slowly and with some attention, I jotted the names of the poets whose piece I considered ‘good’. The resultant list numbered 27, about one-third. Of those, six stood out most. About 12 percent. This doesn’t make Duhamel’s selections wrong, nor mine right. Victoria Kelly, Sally Wen Mao, Campbell McGrath, D. Nurske, Adrienne Rich, and Jean Valentine. Two men, four women. Two born in the 1980s, two in the 1940s, one in the 60s, one in the 20s (and deceased). All have taught or are now teaching as part of the institutional professoriate. I don’t know exactly why they held me most. There were no conscious criteria I was leveling. Was it my mood at the time? Was it a sense of verbal economy, thematic punch, tone? Looking at them now, I can’t tell you. They’ve lost no sheen, but my judgmental acumen is blank as this review gets laid down. Perhaps I am grateful not to have been locked into a more restrictive anthology, a greater layering of established names, even poems I’ve likely seen before and liked. Perhaps what’s best about this is being exposed to pieces that do have a range, not only in terms of fame and style (some of the more well-known writers have samples that don’t do them full justice), but also of flat-out quality. The deformalization and prosification of verse has been a fruitful tendency in American poetry. Some of the included pieces, though, are less ‘poetry’ than ‘flash fiction’ or even ‘diary entry’ – they have a discursive ‘point’, possibly even charm, but don’t have quite the verbal chops to make them the nuggets that poetry aims to be. Some of the best, then, might be said to include the flat, even the misplaced. Best, then, to catch the contrast, to flutter into a future, some urging us toward clear fields and open sky, some of them, momentarily, catching us in the scrubland.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Marc Kohlman

    Much of the poetry throughout this book I was very impressed with and helped inspired me to write my own work. I read this as part of my Creative Writing: Poetry class and was really struck by the different formats each of the poets in this book used. Traci Brimball's "Dear Thanatos" was the first poem form this text that I read. I was struck with the provocative imagery used within it, how it conveys new fear and the compounding effects it has. It raises the question, where does an image indivi Much of the poetry throughout this book I was very impressed with and helped inspired me to write my own work. I read this as part of my Creative Writing: Poetry class and was really struck by the different formats each of the poets in this book used. Traci Brimball's "Dear Thanatos" was the first poem form this text that I read. I was struck with the provocative imagery used within it, how it conveys new fear and the compounding effects it has. It raises the question, where does an image individually start and end? It is also interesting how Brimball used couplets heavily in a non-traditional way and had a lot of creepy but interesting "pagan" references. This would be exhausting if it were only one stanza. Wendy Barker's "Books, Bath Towels, and Beyond" used non-literary words, poetic phrases, and metaphors very well. The references to different authors was also cool. The speaker is a poet and teacher judging from her literary references. The renovation to the house is mentioned twice which can symbolize pushing through loss and the new towels stand for a new beginning. I liked the transitions between words and how they jumped around with time and are cluttered. Jericho Brown's "Hustle" I liked because the speaker is a character in this poem and that the narrative uses free verse, controversial imagery, pop culture references, and lore versus violence. It focuses on real aspects of being in prison which had a hard striking impact on me. The format of "Chelsea/Suicide" by Maureen Seaton is more of a story than a poem really. It describes childhood memories and missing someone. it does not say what the meeting is about but gives clues. The first stanza is really quite abstract. Big elusive images tightens this poem which gets more intense by the second one. Time shifts in the last stanza as well as the first. Deep how the speaker wishes Joe was by her side and has a guilty feeling not having the chance to thank him for saving her get to the meeting. "Secret" is the bow tying the poem together but is messy to an extent. I was happy the speaker decided to make a change by the end of the last stanza and is more accepting of where she is by the end while doing all she can to remember Joe. Memory gives the speaker more support to go to the meeting. "The Art of Drinking Tea" I liked for how concrete and intense it is and in relating drinking tea to love making. The repetition is kind of bugging but the first line and ending works. Richard Wilbur's "Sugar Maples, January" is an evenly written poem and I liked the play with rhyme and syllables at the end of each line. It is very still, calm, and stable. Tony Hoagland's "Wrong Question" through repetition of the question searches more than one soul, not just the speaker's. It is very touch and sight centered with good rhyming. It gives a new approach to the answer as the question is being asked. While the question is wrong, the speaker still answers it. There is no solution to it, it just cannot be answered. I really enjoyed a lot of the poetry throughout this book and highly recommend it to both English teachers and aspiring poets alike. I learned so much about different poetic styles and techniques from many of the poems I read from this in my poetry class.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan Moore

    When a book of any genre claims to be the best, and plasters its cover with a quote from the Chicago Tribune emphasizing that sentiment, it ought to live up to that expectation. And quick. However, "The Best American Poetry 2013" does the former, yet not the latter, and instead starts off, for the most part, prosaic and slow. In its opening pages it tries to be hip and edgy, like a father in mid life crisis who tries desperately to connect with his apathetic teenage son. It's full of poems that When a book of any genre claims to be the best, and plasters its cover with a quote from the Chicago Tribune emphasizing that sentiment, it ought to live up to that expectation. And quick. However, "The Best American Poetry 2013" does the former, yet not the latter, and instead starts off, for the most part, prosaic and slow. In its opening pages it tries to be hip and edgy, like a father in mid life crisis who tries desperately to connect with his apathetic teenage son. It's full of poems that don't grab, but thrust in all the wrong, most painful ways. Mostly self-absorbed in its first 50 or so pages, it feels as if an ego-balloon has untethered itself from the proverbial dock and set sail into turbulent skies without a navigator. Yes, it's bloated. It's got panache, but it's misplaced. It's got gusto, but too much bravado. The poetry is too self-aware, although it tries so hard not to be. Overall, it seems to be a hop-scotch compendium that dabbles in existentialism, pop-culture, horror, philosophy, and doubt, among other things, that's full of gleeful rogues that never quite settle on one type of crime or hone in on any type of adventure. In this case, unpredictability veers into the negative. That's not to say there aren't gems hidden within these pages; as the book drones on into its third act, the lax kinetic energy that first forged it through the early quagmires begins to rocket forward and spiral into something altogether engaging. There are still hiccups in this now steam engine, but it can and it does; it moves forward with a vigor that gulps a second wind, regroups, and, if not uplifting the collection as a whole, saves it from careening into utter disaster. Much less mercurial than the preceding two-thirds, the last third settles into itself, grows a confidence anchored in the uniquely creative, and looks you in the eye, says, "Now, I've got you." My advice? Begin around page 80. Read through and be riveted before traipsing through the foggy start searching for lampposts from poets such as Billy Collins, Amy Gerstler, and Elizabeth Hazen. Your experience will be much more pleasant in that regard and, perhaps, you'll forgive this volume for its missteps more easily than I. Notable poets: Billy Collins Dorianne Laux James Tate Major Jackson Sally Wen Mao Ed Ochester Elizabeth Hazen Amy Gerstler

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ben Pieper

    Overall, I would give this collection a B average (technically an 84.4% avg.) as far as the quality of the poems contained. I know that attempting to quantify poetic effect/value is a ridiculous gesture, but I am simply a ridiculous person. Of course, this is purely based off of my own tastes and will not necessarily reflect your average satisfaction rate. I have not read too many modern poetry anthologies, but I am starting to do so for two reasons. First, to narrow down my own literary tastes. Overall, I would give this collection a B average (technically an 84.4% avg.) as far as the quality of the poems contained. I know that attempting to quantify poetic effect/value is a ridiculous gesture, but I am simply a ridiculous person. Of course, this is purely based off of my own tastes and will not necessarily reflect your average satisfaction rate. I have not read too many modern poetry anthologies, but I am starting to do so for two reasons. First, to narrow down my own literary tastes. Second, to improve my own poetry and eventually find a more distinct voice. I find myself in the habit of simply imitating the voices of the poets that I am inspired by from week to week. I became wary of Duhamel after the third (and not final) Florida poet popped up in the anthology. Duhamel was, at the time, a professor at a Floridian university. This is the most biased BAP I have read to date. The Floridian poems were still good for the most part, but it is the principle of the thing that counts. The following are my favorites from this collection: Masterpieces (7) "Stupid Sandwich" by Nathan Anderson "The Unfinished Slave" by Bruce Bond "Foundling" by Billy Collins "The Statue of Responsibility" by Stephen Dunn "Outline for My Memoir" by Thomas Lux "Florida Poem" by Emma Trelles "Casting Aspersions" by David Wagoner Masterful (10) "Pachyderm" by Sherman Alexie "[white paper 24]" by Martha Collins "All-American" by David Hernandez "Wrong Question" by Tony Hoagland "Blazing Saddles" by A. Van Jordan "Eggheads" by John Koethe "New Year" by Ed Ochester "What It Feels Like to Be Aaron Smith" by Aaron Smith "Now I'll Never Be Able to Finish That Poem to Bob" by Paul Violi "Sugar Maples, January" by Richard Wilbur Masters Candidates (10) "Books, Bath Towels, and Beyond" by Wendy Barker "Dear, Thanatos" by Traci Brimhall "Death" by Kwame Dawes "Perspective" by Laura Kasischke "When the Men Go Off to War" by Victoria Kelly "Once Upon a Time" by Anthony Madrid "In Praise of Small Gods" by Jesse Millner "Intro to Happiness" by J. Allyn Rosser "Sotto Voce: Othello, Unplugged" by Tom Seibles "The Kind of Man I Am at the DMV" by Stacey Waite Overall, I would absolutely to highly recommend approx. 36% of the poems contained in this volume.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Danny Knestaut

    *The Best American Poetry 2013* is indeed quintessentially American. From Billy Collins's “Foundling,” in which he opens with “How unusual to be living a life of continual self-expression,” to Aaron Smith's “What It Feels Like to Be Aaron Smith,” this volume of poetry is packed with unflinching, unembarrassed, unapologetic celebrations of the self. It's immodesty is absolutely American. Denise Duhamel, the guest editor for this installment, is prolific with navel-gazing poetry wrapped in irony, a *The Best American Poetry 2013* is indeed quintessentially American. From Billy Collins's “Foundling,” in which he opens with “How unusual to be living a life of continual self-expression,” to Aaron Smith's “What It Feels Like to Be Aaron Smith,” this volume of poetry is packed with unflinching, unembarrassed, unapologetic celebrations of the self. It's immodesty is absolutely American. Denise Duhamel, the guest editor for this installment, is prolific with navel-gazing poetry wrapped in irony, and so it is to expected to find more of the same culled from American publications of high standing in literary circles. Readers will neither be disappointed, nor surprised. Many of the poems included are academic exercises by poets who know privilege. These are poems written to express the fascination the poets have with their selves and the world they see, which often marks its horizons at the tips of their noses. There are exceptions, of course, from the staggering beautiful “Dear Thanatos” by Traci Brimhall, to anthem-like “All-American” by David Hernandez which not only is striking in metaphor, but it exhibits an awareness that readers exist outside of college campuses and New York City. That lack of awareness, however, has been the continued hallmark of *The Best American Poetry* series. I do have to give credit to Duhamel for loosening the reins some. More than any other volume I remember, this one pries back the definition of poetry. There is much prose in this volume. It came in the form of micro fiction such as Nin Andrews's haunting “The Art of Drinking Tea,” and one of the better short stories I've read, “Joe Adamcysk” by Mitch Sisskind, which for some reason was written in quintains. These prose pieces masquerading as poetry were enjoyable to read, and I was heartened to see a sign that academic poetry is casting about, looking for new forms. Because I'm heartened to see a hint of change in the inward-facing academic poetry, and for the few really amazing poems in this collection, I give it two out of five stars.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Michael Steger

    This is an excellent, wide-ranging collection that includes poems by Kim Addonizio and Matthew Zapruder, and a whole host of poets wedged alphabetically in between. The guest dj here is Denise Duhamel. You can read her 2009 poem, 'Delta Flight 659' here: http://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/de... (Sean Penn was the James Franco of an earlier era.) There are older, established poets, such as Richard Wilbur, John Ashbery, and Louise Gluck; and there are many younger poets, like Laura Kasischke, Doroth This is an excellent, wide-ranging collection that includes poems by Kim Addonizio and Matthew Zapruder, and a whole host of poets wedged alphabetically in between. The guest dj here is Denise Duhamel. You can read her 2009 poem, 'Delta Flight 659' here: http://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/de... (Sean Penn was the James Franco of an earlier era.) There are older, established poets, such as Richard Wilbur, John Ashbery, and Louise Gluck; and there are many younger poets, like Laura Kasischke, Dorothea Lasky, and Wendy Xu. Some of my own favorite poems include Wendy Xu's 'Where the Hero Speaks to Others": http://www.versedaily.org/2012/wheret... (You can read Xu's other 'hero' poems here: http://www.h-ngm-n.com/storage/WendyX... ) Another favorite of mine here is Ashbery's "Resisting Arrest": http://www.poetryinternationalweb.net... Many pages are given generously to David Trinidad's wonderful & Warholian "Peyton Place: A Haiku Soap Opera," an excerpt of which is here: http://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/pe... There is also Anthony Madrid's ironically rhyming "Once Upon a Time": http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetr... And there is another favorite of mine: Mary Ruefle's "Little Golf Pencil": http://www.ecotonejournal.com/index.p... In short, this is a collection that gives one a good sense of where American poetry has been lately and where it might be heading. Yeah, there is no conceptual poetry, but that would take all the fun out of conceptual poetry, if it were to be included in anthologies.... In any case, this is a lyrical, beautiful, often moving, and very often entertaining mix.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Mark Flowers

    SLJ review: http://blogs.slj.com/adult4teen/2013/... DUHAMEL, Denise & David Lehman, eds. The Best American Poetry 2013. 224p. Scribner. Sept. 2013. Tr $35. ISBN 978-1-4767-0802-7. Adult/High School-Duhamel, guest editor of this entry in Scribner’s fantastic-if often controversial-series, notes in her introduction that where previous editors have focused on defining “best” or “poetry,” she “struggled most with the word ‘American.’” This admission speaks volumes about her selection criteria: rat SLJ review: http://blogs.slj.com/adult4teen/2013/... DUHAMEL, Denise & David Lehman, eds. The Best American Poetry 2013. 224p. Scribner. Sept. 2013. Tr $35. ISBN 978-1-4767-0802-7. Adult/High School-Duhamel, guest editor of this entry in Scribner’s fantastic-if often controversial-series, notes in her introduction that where previous editors have focused on defining “best” or “poetry,” she “struggled most with the word ‘American.’” This admission speaks volumes about her selection criteria: rather than defend a particular strand of poetry or “poetry” as the best, she is more interested in offering as broad a slice of American works as possible, with a particular focus on what it means to be American. Thus, readers are treated to poets traditionalist and avant-garde, young and old, and everything in between, and are free to make their own evaluations of what form of poetry suits them. Not to say that all the selections represented are equally good. Timothy Donnelly’s “Apologies from the Ground-Up,” Dorothea Lasky’s “Poem for Anne Sexting,” and James Tate’s “The Baby” stand out as among the most impressive overall. Meanwhile Aaron Smith’s “What It Feels Like to Be Aaron Smith,” and Sherman Alexie’s “Pachyderm” acquit themselves especially well for teens. Overall, this volume should be of particular interest to students and teachers of high school English classes, which often only make it up to modernism, as it offers dramatic evidence of the continued vitality and relevance of several strains of American poetry.-Mark Flowers, John F. Kennedy Library, Vallejo, CA

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ren

    I was pleasantly surprised by the contents of this book. While there were some poems that did not connect with me, for the most part reading this book felt as if I was being introduced to both some new masters and friends. If you are looking for a book that can offer you an eclectic taste, confuse you, bring you to near tears once and take you on a few journeys then give this anthology a try. You just might find yourself either stumbling across an old favorite that you recognize (J. Allyn Rosser I was pleasantly surprised by the contents of this book. While there were some poems that did not connect with me, for the most part reading this book felt as if I was being introduced to both some new masters and friends. If you are looking for a book that can offer you an eclectic taste, confuse you, bring you to near tears once and take you on a few journeys then give this anthology a try. You just might find yourself either stumbling across an old favorite that you recognize (J. Allyn Rosser) or even discover a few new favorites. I for one am encouraged since I am new to poetry. A girl told me once that we do not grow up with poetry and I agree. This book is a good chance to find the kind of author you want to lead you through poems from an outright yell to curl-your-toes. I could not say I loved every poem, but I got something from each one anyway. This is definitely a book that I will not throw away. Consider it a gateway to new realms of poetry. I for one am incredibly interested in visiting the lands of Dorianne Laux, David Wagoner, Adrienne Su, D. Nurkse, Tim Seibles, Mitch Sisskind, Major Jackson, Amy Lemmon, Sally Wen Mao, Rebecca Hazelton, David Hernandez, Nin Andrews, Wendy Barker and Martha Collins. As a Shakespeare fan I must strongly recommend Sotto Voce: Othello, Unplugged by Tim Seibles. I also have to give extra props to David Wagoner for Casting Aspersions and Dorianne Laux for Song. Both of these poems were not only beautiful but made me laugh. New favorites. :)

  24. 4 out of 5

    Chelsea K.

    Solid, solid poetry collection. There are some duds obviously, but there are also gems, which I've narrowed down to three above the rest. "Pachyderm" by Sherman Alexie. Just in general, I have a huge literary crush on Mr. Alexie. Here, he takes up a unique literal list form of poetry, and employs a sort of free-floating stream of consciousness writing that starts off extremely humorous and gets dark and serious extremely fast. He manages it subtly though somehow, and without unwanted abruptness. Solid, solid poetry collection. There are some duds obviously, but there are also gems, which I've narrowed down to three above the rest. "Pachyderm" by Sherman Alexie. Just in general, I have a huge literary crush on Mr. Alexie. Here, he takes up a unique literal list form of poetry, and employs a sort of free-floating stream of consciousness writing that starts off extremely humorous and gets dark and serious extremely fast. He manages it subtly though somehow, and without unwanted abruptness. He is a master in poetry and in prose. "In Praise of Small Gods" by Jesse Millner. I've never read a Millner piece before so I came into this poem with no expectations, and truth be told, I'm not sure if I can even explain why I love it so much. It just effortlessly and simply expresses this fundamental love for the world in the now, as it is -- heaven is in the details of the space around us, what we feel and smell and think and see, more than in heaven itself. Finally, "The Kind of Man I Am at the DMV" by Stacey Waite. In spite of the fact that I generally actively seek out lgbt themed literary pursuits, I had no idea that's what this was -- the title just jumped out at me in the ToC. But Stacey crafts this very needed take in transgender life. Waite doesn't adopt any anger or hate toward this little boy at the DMV, but instead, a rather hopeless, human, and relate-able tone permeates the poem. It's full of surprising turns and unexpected narrative and language choices. Really great.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Abby

    My copy of this book, which I read solely because of obscure connections to the guest editor, kind of looks like a dragon now because of all the corners of paper sticking out the top. I just keep leafing through it over and over like some kind of addict. Lately I have ditched all my normal reading for poems...which is weird because I was going to give them up for Lent in order to escape being stalked by love poems...but I have utterly failed at caring for myself. So, poetry. Billy Collins wants My copy of this book, which I read solely because of obscure connections to the guest editor, kind of looks like a dragon now because of all the corners of paper sticking out the top. I just keep leafing through it over and over like some kind of addict. Lately I have ditched all my normal reading for poems...which is weird because I was going to give them up for Lent in order to escape being stalked by love poems...but I have utterly failed at caring for myself. So, poetry. Billy Collins wants to know if anyone picks up this anthology other than poets. I don't know. I'd like to meet the person who has not written at least small quantities of bad poetry--pretty sure we all fall into that category at one point or another. That's certainly the category I'm in, and I still keep reading Dorianne Laux's "Song" (which is the most wonderful love poem of my life) and Adrienne Su's "On Writing" (which explains why I hate love poems) and Terrance Hayes' "New Jersey Poem" (which is the reason I have hope, because it is still being made in certain quarters of New Jersey). So everyone stop analyzing whether or not you're a poet and pick up the anthology. Then pursue the writers you like, because there is amazing stuff going down on paper these days. You won't want to miss it.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Karen Douglass

    Every year I wait for the current volume in this series. This year Denise Duhamel is the guest editor, and she's done a good job selecting a new crop of best poems. Finding that Kim Addonizio leads the alphabetical pack pleases me. "Divine" is just that, although not the divinity of Dante, thankfully. Some of the entries feel all too familiar--Ashbery, for example, seems to own beachfront property in BAP land. However, complaints aside, each volume offers the front matter by series editor David L Every year I wait for the current volume in this series. This year Denise Duhamel is the guest editor, and she's done a good job selecting a new crop of best poems. Finding that Kim Addonizio leads the alphabetical pack pleases me. "Divine" is just that, although not the divinity of Dante, thankfully. Some of the entries feel all too familiar--Ashbery, for example, seems to own beachfront property in BAP land. However, complaints aside, each volume offers the front matter by series editor David Lehman and an introduction by the guest editor, often insightful commentary on the state of contemporary American Poetry. It's not the whole world of poetry, but it's always good to read the writers' comments about how the poems came about, and to see where these favored poems first appeared. I notice that most of the work included is by folks with impressive publication credentials, which makes me wish that the selections could be made without the guest editor's knowing all of this collateral stuff, just give us the best poems and credentials be damned.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Sally Ember

    Didn't know I was missing rhymes until Richard Wilbur provided his four perfect, sweetly rhyming couplets, an ode to everything's having its own time, especially sap waiting in winter in "Sugar Maples," January": "It's not time, as yet, for rising sap And hammered spikes. There's nothing there to tap." Stacey Waite delights, troubles and provokes with "The Kind of Man I am at the DMV" with these kinds of stanzas: "because, yes that man is a girl. I, man, am a girl I am the kind of man who is a girl Didn't know I was missing rhymes until Richard Wilbur provided his four perfect, sweetly rhyming couplets, an ode to everything's having its own time, especially sap waiting in winter in "Sugar Maples," January": "It's not time, as yet, for rising sap And hammered spikes. There's nothing there to tap." Stacey Waite delights, troubles and provokes with "The Kind of Man I am at the DMV" with these kinds of stanzas: "because, yes that man is a girl. I, man, am a girl I am the kind of man who is a girl and because the kind of man I am is patient with children I try not to hear the meanness in his voice, his boy voice that sounds like a girl voice because his boy voice is young and pitched high like the tent in his pants will be years later because he will grow to be the kind of man who is a man, or so his mother thinks." Thank you, Denise Duhamel, for curating this interesting collection from published poems in 2013 which may or may not be the "best" from that year. Thanks most of all to all these and all other, unpublished or published poets.

  28. 4 out of 5

    May

    A short review this time - A poetry anthology is like a great, big international conference: you have poems from various states, countries and cultures present, each sitting in their respectful pages, their presence contributing to the literary atmosphere of the room. Some poems are absolutely outstanding, the kind of people you want to talk to over and over again at such a gathering. Some are the guests you speak to once and then forget about soon afterwards. Others seem like they are putting on A short review this time - A poetry anthology is like a great, big international conference: you have poems from various states, countries and cultures present, each sitting in their respectful pages, their presence contributing to the literary atmosphere of the room. Some poems are absolutely outstanding, the kind of people you want to talk to over and over again at such a gathering. Some are the guests you speak to once and then forget about soon afterwards. Others seem like they are putting on airs, trying too hard, communicating at you from a level that is both inaccessible and convoluted. Yet as it always is with meeting new people, it is always a matter of personality - I don't blame the poems any more than I blame myself. From this collection, notables include "Foundling" by the ever-reliable Billy Collins, the very relatable "Why I Write Poetry" by Major Jackson, the stunningly powerful "The Kind of Man I Am at the DMV." Anthologies offer such a wide variety of different styles and voices that one reads not only for pleasure, but also for discovery and guidance.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Tracy St Claire

    I got this as a "blind date" book from the library. I do not usually read poetry and so the rating is lower than it might be from a poetry fan. I have a liberal arts education from a fine college, so I think I am qualified to review, One reviewer in the book asked if only poets would read that book, and after reading the book I'm asking the same question. With poetry you have to read every word, no skimming, and concentrate. I did that. Even so, I did not understand the concept of nearly half the I got this as a "blind date" book from the library. I do not usually read poetry and so the rating is lower than it might be from a poetry fan. I have a liberal arts education from a fine college, so I think I am qualified to review, One reviewer in the book asked if only poets would read that book, and after reading the book I'm asking the same question. With poetry you have to read every word, no skimming, and concentrate. I did that. Even so, I did not understand the concept of nearly half the poems. Sorry. Many of the poems looked like prose, lists, paragraphs or other word paraphernalia that I find in my notebooks. Perhaps I should submit. I did find about five that touched me and I will take away. Irony is Christopher Reeves. Superman to quadriplegic.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Alarie

    The Chicago Tribune said, “A ‘best’ anthology that really lives up to its title.” I don’t agree, but I’m used to being disappointed by anthologies simply because I don’t share the editor’s taste. However, there were some poems I was glad to read. Two of them in particular, “Pachyderm” by Sherman Alexie and “When the Men Go Off to War” by Victoria Kelly, justified my purchase. In case you’re wondering, 180 Poems edited by Billy Collins and The Art of Losing edited by Kevin Young are two anthologi The Chicago Tribune said, “A ‘best’ anthology that really lives up to its title.” I don’t agree, but I’m used to being disappointed by anthologies simply because I don’t share the editor’s taste. However, there were some poems I was glad to read. Two of them in particular, “Pachyderm” by Sherman Alexie and “When the Men Go Off to War” by Victoria Kelly, justified my purchase. In case you’re wondering, 180 Poems edited by Billy Collins and The Art of Losing edited by Kevin Young are two anthologies that did get top ratings from me. Both Young and Collins had poems I liked in this collection, too.

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