Every year since 1988 a major poet has selected seventy-five poems for publication in The Best American Poetry. The series has quickly grown in both sales and prestige, as poetry itself has seen a remarkable resurgence in popularity and vitality, fueled by established poets at the peak of their powers and a new generation of daring voices. As we approach the millennium, now is the opportune moment to take stock of american poetry and choose the work that will stand the test of time. Harold Bloom, a commanding presence on the American literary state, has read all 750 poems in the series and has picked the "best of the best." He precedes his selections with a compelling and highly provocative essay on the state of American letters, in which he fiercely champions the endangered realm of the aesthetic over the politically correct. Diverse in style, method, and metaphor, the seventy-five poems Bloom has chosen go a long way toward defining a contemporary canon of American poetry. This exciting volume reflects not only the taste of the current editor, but the predilections of the all-star list of poets who have contributed their time and intellect to make this series what is today: a "valuable, invaluable, supervaluable" "(Beloit Poetry Journal)" record of an ever-changing, always exciting art.
Harold Bloom was born in the Bronx in 1930. He is Sterling Professor of Humanities at Yale University and Berg Professor of English at New York University. In his first book, Shelley's Mythmaking (1959), Bloom made a spirited case for a poet then out of favor with the academic critical establishment. His subsequent books include The Visionary Company (1961), The Anxiety of Influence (1973), A Map of Misreading (1975), Poetry and Repression (1976), and The Western Canon (1994). He has edited numerous volumes, including several hundred critical studies of major authors that appear under the Chelsea House imprint. Ruin the Sacred Truths (1989) presents the lectures Bloom delivered as the Charles Eliot Norton Professor at Harvard. In The Book of J (1990), Bloom speculated that the author of the oldest portions of the Hebrew Bible may have been a woman in the court of King Solomon. He has also written on religion in two other books, The American Religion (1992) and Omens of Millennium; The Gnosis of Angels, Dreams and Resurrection (1996). Bloom, who has held a MacArthur Fellowship, is currently finishing a study of Shakespeare under the title Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human.
Foreword by David Lehman Introduction by Harold Bloom Jonathan Aaron, "Dance Mania" A. R. Ammons, "Anxiety's Prosody" A. R. Ammons, "Garbage" A. R. Ammons, "From Strip" John Ashbery, "Baked Alaska" John Ashbery, "Myrtle" John Ashbery, "The Problem of Anxiety" Elizabeth Bishop, "It Is Marvellous..." George Bradley, "The Fire Fetched Down" Lucie Brock-Broido, "Inevitably, She Declined" Anne Carson, "The Life of Towns" Amy Clampitt, "My Cousin Muriel" Douglas Crase, "True Solar Holiday" Carolyn Creedon, "litany" Thomas M. Disch, "The Cardinal Detoxes: A Play in One Act" Irving Feldman, "Terminal Laughs" Aaron Fogel, "The Printer's Error" Alice Fulton, "Powers of Congress" Allen Ginsberg, "Salutations to Fernando Pessoa" Louise Glück, "Celestial Music" Louise Glück, "Vespers" Jorie Graham, "Manifest Destiny" Jorie Graham, "What the Instant Contains" Allen Grossman, "The Piano Player Explains Himself" Donald Hall, "Prophecy" Donald Hall, "The Porcelain Couple" Vicki Hearne, "St. Luke Painting the Virgin" Anthony Hecht, "Prospects" Edward Hirsch, "Man on a Fire Escape" John Hollander, "Kinneret" John Hollander, "An Old-Fashioned Song" John Hollander, "The See-Saw" Richard Howard, "Like Most Revelations" Donald Justice, "Nostalgia of the Lakefronts" Donald Justice, "Invitation to a Ghost" Brigit Pegeen Kelly, "The White Pilgrim: Old Christian Cemetery" Jane Kenyon, "Three Songs at the End of Summer" Galway Kinnell, "When One Has Lived a Long Time Alone" Karl Kirchwey, "Sonogram" Kenneth Koch, "One Train May Hide Another" Yusef Komunyakaa, "Facing It" Ann Lauterbach, "Psyche's Dream" Philip Levine, "Scouting" Harry Mathews, "Histoire" J. D. McClatchy, "An Essay on Friendship" James Merrill, "A Room at the Heart of Things" James Merrill, "The 'Ring' Cycle" James Merrill, "Family Week at Oracle Ranch" W. S. Merwin, "The Stranger" Susan Mitchell, "Havana Birth" A. F. Moritz, "Protracted Episode" Thylias Moss, "The Warmth of Hot Chocolate" Brighde Mullins, "At the Lakehouse" Molly Peacock, "Have You Ever Faked an Orgasm?" Bob Perelman, "Movie" Carl Phillips, "A Mathematics of Breathing" Kay Ryan, "Outsider Art" Grace Schulman, "The Present Perfect" David Shapiro, "The Seasons" Charles Simic, "Country Fair" Charles Simic, "The Something" Gary Snyder, "Ripples on the Surface" Mark Strand, "Reading in Place" Mark Strand, "From Dark Harbor" Mark Strand, "Morning, Noon and Night" May Swenson, "Sleeping with Boa" Derek Walcott, "Omeros" Rosanna Warren, "The Cormorant" Rosanna Warren, "Diversion" Susan Wheeler, "What Memory Reveals" Richard Wilbur, "Lying" Richard Wilbur, "A Wall in the Woods: Cummington" Charles Wright, "Disjecta Membra" Jay Wright, "Madrid" Jay Wright, "The Cradle Logic of Autumn" Contributors' Notes and Comments Excerpts from the Introductions with Headnotes by David Lehman John Ashbery Donald Hall Jorie Graham Mark Strand Charles Simic Louise Glück A. R. Ammons Richard Howard Adrienne Rich James Tate David Lehman Acknowledgments Cumulative Series Index
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