Synopses & Reviews
Robert Pinsky, distinguished poet and man of letters, selects the top 100 poems from twenty-five years of The Best American Poetry
The Best American Poetry is the most prestigious poetry publication in the United States and has been so almost from its inception in 1988. Hotly debated, keenly monitored, ardently advocated (or denounced), obsessively scrutinized, every volume in the series consists of seventy-five poems chosen by a major American poet — from John Ashbery in 1988 to Mark Doty in 2012 with stops along the way for such poets as Jorie Graham, Charles Simic, A.R. Ammons, Louise Gluck, James Tate, Adrienne Rich, Paul Muldoon, Billy Collins, Heather McHugh, and Kevin Young.
Out of the 1,875 poems that have appeared in The Best American Poetry, here are the 100 that Robert Pinsky has chosen for this special edition. Each volume in the series is represented, and the result is a pleasure-giving book of twice-honored poems that readers will find indispensable. The Best of the Best American Poetry is proof positive that the art form is flourishing. The volume is a reminder, too, of the role this anthology series has played in the resurgence of interest in American poetry in the last quarter century.
With valuable introductory essays by guest editor Pinsky and series editor David Lehman, The Best of the Best American Poetry includes up-to-date biographies of the poets along with the comments they made when the poems were originally selected.
"This 25th-Anniversary anthology celebrating Scribner's annual Best American Poetry series, each volume of which is compiled by a different notable poet, with the help of series founder and editor David Lehman, offers one kind of survey of the past quarter-century of American verse and begs the question of what it means for a poem to be among the 'best.' Although, necessarily, this is not a panoramic representation of all that U.S. poets have to offer, it does feature poets as aesthetically disparate as the formalist James Merrill (with a poem from 1991) and the free-form experimenter Lyn Hejinian, whose inclusion dates from 1994. There are plenty of poems by usual suspects John Ashbery, Robert Hass, James Tate as well as a few by late legends, like Allen Ginsberg, Jane Kenyon, Kenneth Koch, Adrienne Rich, and James Schuyler but the book is short on names that will be new to poetry readers, leaving poets like Major Jackson, Sarah Manguso, and C. Dale Young, all now in mid-career, to carry the torches for new poetry. Readers will find, however, many of the standout poems from various volumes, including Anne Carson's incredible 'The Life of Towns' (from 1993) and Rae Armantrout's slippery 'Soft Money' (from 2011). Most of all, this volume attests to what may be the rule of this series: 'the best' is a matter of each editor, and each reader's tastes; no doubt, some readers will discover new favorites here." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
This special edition celebrates twenty-five years of the Best American Poetry series, which has become an institution. From its inception in 1988, it has been hotly debated, keenly monitored, ardently advocated (or denounced), and obsessively scrutinized. Each volume consists of seventy-five poems chosen by a major American poet acting as guest editor — from John Ashbery in 1988 to Mark Doty in 2012, with stops along the way for such poets as Charles Simic, A. R. Ammons, Louise Glück, Adrienne Rich, Billy Collins, Heather McHugh, and Kevin Young. Out of the 1,875 poems that have appeared in The Best American Poetry, here are 100 that Robert Pinsky, the distinguished poet and man of letters, has chosen for this milestone edition.
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. Robert Pinsky was the nation’s Poet Laureate from 1997 to 2000. An acclaimed poet and scholar of poetry, he is also an internationally renowned man of letters. His Selected Poems was published in paperback in March 2012. His other books include The Sounds of Poetry: A Brief Guide and his bestselling translation The Inferno of Dante, which won the Los Angeles Times Book Award. He teaches at Boston University and is the poetry editor at Slate.