Synopses & Reviews
The Best American Poetry
series is a beloved mainstay of American poetry. This year's edition was edited by one of the most admired and acclaimed poets of his generation, Charles Wright. Known for his meditative and beautiful observations of landscape, change, and time,Wright brings his particular sensibility to this year's anthology, which contains an ecumenical slant that is unprecedented for the series. He has gathered an astonishing selection of work that includes new poems by Carolyn Forché, Jorie Graham, Louise Glück, Frank Bidart, Frederick Seidel, Patti Smith, and Kevin Young and showcases a dazzling array of rising stars like Joshua Beckman, Erica Dawson, and Alex Lemon.
With captivating and revelatory notes from the poets on their works and sage and erudite introductory essays by Wright and series editor David Lehman, The Best American Poetry 2008 will be read, discussed, debated, and prized for years to come.
"In his bullet-pointed introduction to this year's volume in this popular annual anthology series, prolific Pulitzer winner Wright makes it known that he is interested in emotional intensity, and its capacity to give poems shape and beauty, more than in any particular aesthetic camp: 'cleverness is not what endures. Only pain endures. And the rhythm of pain.' Poems here might be called confessional, hip, avant-garde, edgy and conservative. Powerful if hairy poems by Marvin Bell, Alex Lemon and D. Nurkse are good examples of the range of what Wright likes, as is Rae Armantrout's stark and hurting elegy for Robert Creeley: 'The present is cupped// by a small effort/ of focus // its muscular surround.// You're left out.' Many of the usual suspects Ashbery, Glck, Merwin, Graham, Charles Simic are represented by strong poems. Also here are representatives of the generation now entering mid-career, like D.A. Powell, Natasha Trethewey and Kevin Young. Some of the most exciting poems come from writers whose stars are still rising, such as an extraordinary meditation on love by Mary Szybist: 'The Puritans thought that we are granted the ability to love/ Only through miracle,/ But the troubadours knew how to burn themselves through,/ How to make themselves shrines to their own longing.' (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Wright and renowned editor Lehman present the 21st edition of the Best American Poetry series, which Robert Pinsky calls, as good a comprehensive overview of contemporary poetry as there can be.
About the Author
David Lehman, who founded The Best American Poetry series in 1988, is the editor of The Oxford Book of American Poetry and the author of seven books of poetry, including When a Woman Loves a Man. He teaches in the graduate writing program at the New School and lives in New York City and in Ithaca, New York.