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The Best American Poetry 2009

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David Wagoner writes about regular lives with plain grace and transcendent humanity, and the seventy-five poems he has chosen for the 2009 edition of The Best American Poetry grapple with life, celebrate freedom, and teem with imaginative energy. With engaging notes from the poets, Wagoner's superb introductory essay, series editor David Lehman's astute foreword about the David Wagoner writes about regular lives with plain grace and transcendent humanity, and the seventy-five poems he has chosen for the 2009 edition of The Best American Poetry grapple with life, celebrate freedom, and teem with imaginative energy. With engaging notes from the poets, Wagoner's superb introductory essay, series editor David Lehman's astute foreword about the current state of poetry and criticism, and cover art from the beloved poet John Ashbery, The Best American Poetry 2009 is a memorable and delightful addition to a series dedicated to showcasing the work of poets at their best.


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David Wagoner writes about regular lives with plain grace and transcendent humanity, and the seventy-five poems he has chosen for the 2009 edition of The Best American Poetry grapple with life, celebrate freedom, and teem with imaginative energy. With engaging notes from the poets, Wagoner's superb introductory essay, series editor David Lehman's astute foreword about the David Wagoner writes about regular lives with plain grace and transcendent humanity, and the seventy-five poems he has chosen for the 2009 edition of The Best American Poetry grapple with life, celebrate freedom, and teem with imaginative energy. With engaging notes from the poets, Wagoner's superb introductory essay, series editor David Lehman's astute foreword about the current state of poetry and criticism, and cover art from the beloved poet John Ashbery, The Best American Poetry 2009 is a memorable and delightful addition to a series dedicated to showcasing the work of poets at their best.

30 review for The Best American Poetry 2009

  1. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    Nothing like a literary feud to kick things off. I have no idea how this year's edition of the BAP will go (I'm predicing the usual 3 stars), but it's probably a keeper due to Lehman's wreck-on-the-highway opening essay. (Seriously, it's right up there with Bloom's years ago tirade at Rich.) Clearly Lehman doesn't like bad boy poetry critic William Logan. But other than saying he, like so many suffering others, has been a target, he doesn't give specifics regarding his outrage. After a little de Nothing like a literary feud to kick things off. I have no idea how this year's edition of the BAP will go (I'm predicing the usual 3 stars), but it's probably a keeper due to Lehman's wreck-on-the-highway opening essay. (Seriously, it's right up there with Bloom's years ago tirade at Rich.) Clearly Lehman doesn't like bad boy poetry critic William Logan. But other than saying he, like so many suffering others, has been a target, he doesn't give specifics regarding his outrage. After a little detective work, I'm guessing the Big Hate comes from this Logan review: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/04/16/boo... After reading this review, which seems both brutal and fair, Lehman seems to be the one with thin skin. There's nothing like a good anthology, but a poorly balanced one -- as Logan suggests the Oxford Book of American Poetry is, is a failure that should be underlined. Given the intended scope of the Oxford book, the omissions of some poets and the over representation of others that Logan points out in his review, ultimately, in the end, betray the reader. A discerning reader has to ask whether the editor is playing favorites or just being lazy (or both). Whatever. Now, I know Logan is a controversial figure. I once had a poetry friend tell me that after reading through one of Logan's chainsawings, he had to wonder if Logan even liked poetry. That in itself was sort of funny, but in general I disagree. Logan likes poetry, he just has a very high bar. If you read positive reviews from him on, as examples, Gjertrud Schnackenburg or Geoffrey Hill, you come away from such reviews thinking the poets being praised have no better friend. But getting back to the BAP 2009. Lehman's opening essay actually does have something to say, you just have to wade through the first half of its "gaseous" Logan bashing to get to it. It seems to me Lehman should of followed guest editor David Wagoner's low-key approach. Right now, after Lehman's fireworks, the poetry almost seems an afterthought. Lehman owed Wagoner, and the poets represented in this collection, better service as an editor. So perhaps Logan, without even trying this time, makes again his points regarding the duties and obligations of editing. Update -- 3 stars. Started out lame w/ yet another Ashbery poem which is clearly in the book for who wrote, and not what he wrote. But the next poem, Beasts and Violins, by Caleb Barber (a newbie), is a keeper. Actually, Guest Editor David Wagoner did well w/ the name poets this time. Mark Doty ("Apparition"), Albert Goldbarth ("Zones"), Philip Levine ("Words on the Wind" (might be my favorite this time around)), Barbara Hamby ("Ode to Airheads" (most interesting)). Adrienne Rich offered up a stinker ("Tonight no Poetry will Serve"), which is almost as bad Ashbery's effort. A couple of other newbies that I liked: Christine Marshall ("Sweat"), and Michael Johnson ("How to be Eaten by a Lion"). I don't know if it was an alphabet thing or not, but in the last third of the book I found few poems that held my interest.

  2. 4 out of 5

    B.

    Overall, I would give this collection a B- average (technically an 82.4% 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 started a mission in October of 2016 to read the entire Best American Poetry series so that I can begin to get a better sense of A) what m Overall, I would give this collection a B- average (technically an 82.4% 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 started a mission in October of 2016 to read the entire Best American Poetry series so that I can begin to get a better sense of A) what my taste in poetry is, and B) my own poetic voice. Oof. Although I respect David Wagoner's lifetime of contributions to American poetry (God knows he has done more for it than I have so far), I cannot endorse his 2009 selections as a whole. In fact, I feel that this is by far the worst edition of Best American Poetry that I have read so far. Just in case somebody is keeping tabs on me, yes, I realize that BAP 2015 (80.8%) has a lower average score than this 2009 entry. BUT, BAP 2015 also had a 36& proportion of poems that I would absolutely to highly recommend as opposed to the comparatively paltry 24% that this 2009 edition offers. When I rank all of the editions, I will have to take into account both numbers. Mr. Wagoner and I are at odds when it comes to our tastes in poetry. An overwhelming feeling of sameness and tameness rules this edition. More often than not, his selections simply didn't float my boat. Many of them just didn't have an entry point for me, whatever that means exactly. I acknowledge freely that these points are both difficult to articulate and different for everyone. It all comes down to language (obviously). Nothing is formally exciting or innovative. I noted multiple times throughout my reading that I had, in one way or another, seen most of these poems before somewhere. With all due respect to Mr. Wagoner, I also have critical qualms (and constructive solutions!) concerning a few of the more, to my mind, irresponsible poems that he chose for this edition. The culprits are Jim Harrison's "Sunday Discordancies" and Pamela Sutton's "Forty". My main issue with Harrison's poem is not his meandering, but where he consciously chooses to meander to about midway through. In the midst of his lines about birds, voles, and notes for a novel, Harrison chooses to casually refer to the war in Iraq and American soldiers: "[...] I was wondering at how the dogs often pretend that Sandhill Cranes don't exist despite their mighty squawks, like we can't hear the crying of coal miners or our wounded in Iraq. A friend on his deathbed cried and said it felt good. He was crying because he couldn’t eat, a lifelong habit." I understand the message that Harrison is trying to send with these lines, but I take umbrage with it for a few reasons. First, the message itself is a trite one. Obviously, there are people who ignore (willfully or otherwise) the plights of American soldiers in foreign wars. However, the annoying thing about this line is that it simply reminds the reader of this and then putters off to another distraction. The cries of the wounded are merely used as a segue for the speaker to jump to the cries of somebody that is closer to him. In the end, nothing is done. The thought remains a trite flittering and nothing more. If Harrison feels the need to mention this issue at all, then why doesn't he devote a whole poem to it? As is, Harrison comes off as another “empathetic” liberal (I am by no means conservative by the way) who takes the time to briefly and seriously mention X WAR IN THE MIDDLE EAST without attempting to resolve any of the ignorance or comment on it in any productive way. Instead, Harrison opts for casual exhale. This is the kind of attitude that far too many Americans take towards our wars. The fact that somebody of Harrison's linguistic talent and intellect wastes the opportunity to say anything productive on the matter is frankly irresponsible. The poem would be better off had he not mentioned the war at all, or the coal miners for that matter. Luckily, BAP 2009 is not without a poem that demonstrates exactly what Harrison neglects to do: a poem that pays proper, extended attention America's wars. This poem is Craig Morgan Teicher's stellar "Ultimately Justice Directs Them." In this poem, Teicher does not simply drop in America's wars as a peripheral detail. Instead, Teicher shows the intellectual respect and consideration that wars and our soldiers deserve. Take note Harrison: If you don't have something interesting to say about topics like war, terrorism, and tragedy then don't say anything at all. Unfortunately for us, Harrison's poem is not the chief offender when it comes to using headlines for throwaway pathos. The winner of that title goes to Pamela Sutton and her scattershot numbers poem "Forty." In this poem, Sutton feels that it is aesthetically pertinent to inject the specter of 9/11 into her numerical rambling: "One Colossus consecrated to the sun: One Rome, thousands of Visigoths. 911 2 towers 101 stories 2 planes 3 thousand dead. One evening in Florida the sun, hand over hand, drags notes from doves' throats like strands of tears." While Harrison was irresponsible as a poet and intellectually lazy with his throwaway mention of the Iraq war, Sutton turns unproductive headline-dropping into exploitation with her 9/11 mention. In part, this is the result of the poem's general lack of focus; the use of numbers relating to the Sutton's life is the only formal/ideological through line. But beyond the poem's mediocrity, there is something more concerning at play here. Being a genre built on ideas and emotional evocation, poetry and its writers should not stoop to the level of hack politicians who use 9/11 to sway voters into the doldrums of humanity's emotional range. Unfortunately, this is exactly what "Forty" appears to be doing. Using 9/11 as a cheap source of pathos has been ridiculed by satirists many times over the past decade (almost two). Apparently, Sutton did not get the message. Again, like Harrison, Sutton is simply using tragedy as a prop. A cheap shot that serves as a catch-all for readers and their unavoidable emotional associations with particularly ubiquitous numbers/words. Fortunately, just as Teicher's poem served as antidote to Harrison's offense, the reliable Bruce Bond provides a much-needed model with how to thoughtfully explore tragedy with the elegiac "Ringtone.” While Sutton drops in a tragedy as a cheap attempt at evoking the reader’s broad emotional range and then moves on to her next number, Bond takes time with a tragedy and provides a thoughtful glimpse at the aftermath of the Virginia Tech shooting. Here is Bond’s poem in full: "As they loaded the dead onto the gurneys to wheel them from the university halls, who could have predicted the startled chirping in those pockets, the invisible bells and tiny metal music of the phones, in each the cheer of a voiceless song. Pop mostly, Timberlake, Shakira, tunes never more various now, more young, shibboleths of what a student hears, what chimes in the doorway to the parent on the line. Who could have answered there in proxy for the dead, received the panic with grace, however artless, a live bird gone still at the meeting of the strangers." Bond does everything that Sutton did not stop to consider with "Forty." With “Ringtone”, Bond does what poets should: Bring to light new angles and perspectives from which to consider objects, animals, events, historical figures, etc. Tragedy is, for Bond, not a throwaway pathos-inducer, but a topic that is worth respect and meditation. Bond is exemplary for his care and empathy. He is a responsible poet and intellectual. I just wish that the same could be said for all of the poets who are selected to be in a series that claims to represent the "best" of our country's current poetic output. Thanks to another Goodreads review of this edition, I was lucky enough to find out about the most interesting aspect of this 2009 entry: a feud between David Lehman and William Logan. Typically, I merely skim the surface of Lehman's introductions and dive wholeheartedly into the guest editor's intros. Upon my initial skim, I missed out on what must be the most contentious critical fight of the century so far: Two poetry critics, duking it out viciously over their taste in American poetry. Logan had recently attacked Lehman for his questionable selections for the Oxford Book of American Poetry, and he did not hold back. While I disagree with Logan on many of his stances or at least some of his unnecessarily savage diction, it is nice to see a Simon Cowell in a field that desperately needs it. However, after reading Logan's review of Lehman's edition back to back with the three or so pages that Lehman devotes to striking back at Logan in his introduction, it is clear that Lehman rules the day when it comes to the strength of his argument (the basis of which being that Logan does not have very strong arguments). Regardless of the victor, it was invigorating to see true contention exist at all in today's critical landscape. Masterpieces (4) "Ringtone" by Bruce Bond "How It Will End" by Denise Duhamel "Insomnia" by Linda Pastan "Holding Action" by Jeanne Murray Walker Masterful (8) "Definition of Terms" by Michael J. Grabell "How to Be Eaten by a Lion" by Michael Johnson "Why do you keep putting animals in your poems?" by Lance Larsen "On Mercy" by Kevin Prufer "Heartlines" by Alexandra Teague "Ultimately Justice Directs Them" by Craig Morgan Teicher "No Pegasus" by Ronald Wallace "Cinderella's Last Will & Testament" by Debbie Yee Masters Candidates (6) "The Book of Steve" by Catherine Carter "The Great American Poem" by Billy Collins "Lingering Doubts" by J.D. McClatchy "Pickled Heads: St. Petersburg" by Susan Blackwell Ramsey "A Sea-Change" by Derek Walcott "Leaving Saint Peter's Basilica" by Lisa Williams Overall, I would absolutely to highly recommend approx. 24% of the poems contained in this volume.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Tristan

    Another solid installment in the Best American Poetry series. Decidedly less impressive than the last one, I read, but still good and I am still pleased to have read it. As always, it was a hodgepodge of new names and old, better poems and less good ones. My favorite poems were: "Concerning the Land to the South of Our Neighbors To the North" by Mark Bibbins, "The Book of Steve" by Catherine Carter (my very favorite, I cried), "Freud" by James Cummins, "Grave Goods" by Dolores Hayden, "A House i Another solid installment in the Best American Poetry series. Decidedly less impressive than the last one, I read, but still good and I am still pleased to have read it. As always, it was a hodgepodge of new names and old, better poems and less good ones. My favorite poems were: "Concerning the Land to the South of Our Neighbors To the North" by Mark Bibbins, "The Book of Steve" by Catherine Carter (my very favorite, I cried), "Freud" by James Cummins, "Grave Goods" by Dolores Hayden, "A House is Not a Home" by Terrance Hayes, "How to Be Eaten by a Lion" by Michael Johnson, "To Yahweh" by Tina Kelley, "What I Think of Death, If Anyone's Asking" by Maud Kelly, "Words on the Wind" by Philip Levine, "Tell the Bees" by Sarah Lindsay, "On Mercy" by Kevin Prufer", Turn" by Keith Ratzlaff (but this is recommended with a warning, see below), "Tonight No Poetry Will Serve" by Adrienne Rich, "Subject, Verb, Object" by James Richardson, "A Blind Astromomer in the age of the Stars" by Pattiann Rogers, "Ultimately, Justice Directs Them" by Craig Morgan Teicher (aggressive and gorgeous), "Liturgy" by Natasha Trethewey, and "Cinderella's Last Will and Testament" by Debbie Yee. This list is a tad longer than usual--the book is the library's, so I'm more interested in preserving titles and authors that I liked than in securing a reasonable list of genuine favorites today. Okay, to the three poems that I think particularly important to discuss (although previous updates contain excerpts from "To Yahweh" and "Concerning the Land to the South of Our Neighbors to the North" as well). "The Book of Steve" was really great, for one, because it is very important that LGBTQ+ people have non-tragic narratives, and while this was a serious poem, it does deliver that. Additionally, it is simply a fluid and musical poem:The end of the book is torn out; there are marks of fire. No one knows who defiled the Book of Steve, but in some stories it is said the Eden has other quadrants and that Steve is in one of them. Steve, and the snakes with feet, and other people who missed the next book: the roc pressing its iridescent plumes, the unicorn lipping apples, the manticore having a dustbath. They say that somewhere among the leaves of western Eden was found a helpmate for Steve, who was not fruitful, who did not multiply, who had no dominion over the earth. With regards to "Turn", the poem is one of elegance and horror and the second to last stanza includes (cw: homophobic slurs)(view spoiler)[ This is about the last, red words we wrung from him, the confession blotched on the alley side of the house: "I am not a queer. I am not a faggot"-- when faggot is just the broken end of a string, a lump, a bundle. And queer is the twist in us, the turn, the oblique torch we light and lift like a lamp beside the open door. (hide spoiler)] Finally, "Ultimately Justice Directs Them" is a searing and humorous attack on unjust wars, particularly American involvement in the Middle East (especially Iraq). This poem includes, in section 13, the lines, "Operation America. / Operation With Extra Cheese. // Operation With fries With That. / Operation No Child Left Behind" and this is not the only moment of bitter and fascinating commentary on the wars in the poem, making it a stand-out piece in the collection .

  4. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    I was a little underwhelmed with this year's selection, mostly with some of the overtly political poems. I thought David Lehman's introduction was very good and was, as usual, temporarily overcome with optimism about the state of American poetry that will fade, I'm sure, by next November, just in time for Lehman to prop me up again. My favorite poems in the anthology were: 1. "Freud" by James Cummins: a wide-ranging sestina that I feel provides a good counterpoint to the anti-Freud double abeceda I was a little underwhelmed with this year's selection, mostly with some of the overtly political poems. I thought David Lehman's introduction was very good and was, as usual, temporarily overcome with optimism about the state of American poetry that will fade, I'm sure, by next November, just in time for Lehman to prop me up again. My favorite poems in the anthology were: 1. "Freud" by James Cummins: a wide-ranging sestina that I feel provides a good counterpoint to the anti-Freud double abecedarian published in Best American by Julie Larios a few years ago. . . 2. "Zones" by Albert Goldbarth: any poet who is courageous enough to write about love and the universe gets my vote. . . 3. "What I Think of Death, If Anyone's Asking" by Maud Kelley: love, the universe, and cows in a field. 4. "Heartlines" by Alexandra Teague: a morning-after poem that's really about the speaker's parents 5. "No Pegasus" by Ronald Wallace: as sad and lovely as an ars poetica should be.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Erik Akre

    Three stars here means "Pretty good!" Rating anthologies is difficult, and this one came to me quite randomly as a $2 clearance, but brand new. I bought it on a whim, and I guess that's how I would review it: Sometimes it's good to just branch out by trying something unintentionally. And it was indeed good. I recognize that this is kind of a "dead book" now, with Best American Poetries coming out every new year. There is a timeless nature to poems, and these were still fresh in that sense. Nothin Three stars here means "Pretty good!" Rating anthologies is difficult, and this one came to me quite randomly as a $2 clearance, but brand new. I bought it on a whim, and I guess that's how I would review it: Sometimes it's good to just branch out by trying something unintentionally. And it was indeed good. I recognize that this is kind of a "dead book" now, with Best American Poetries coming out every new year. There is a timeless nature to poems, and these were still fresh in that sense. Nothing seemed out of date in the same way that no good poem ever gets old. Each poem is its own world/moment of expression, no matter the year. Each has value in that way. At the end of the day, this book of poems might be worth the same as any other Best of, but in that it still holds value. Choose it--or any poetry anthology--at random, to enjoy the medium, and enjoy it for that.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Rosario Villaluz

    a good read and a nice collection of poetry. -Rosario B. Villaluz, co-author, Semper Fi, Poetry

  7. 5 out of 5

    Z

    A lackluster collection with not enough diversity of voice.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Telly

    With an anthology like this, you're going to have hits and misses, and I've read both the positive and negative reviews here and in the various media outlets. However, overall, I have to give it four stars for the clarity and crispness of the poets. Several of them, to me, felt as if they were bringing something new to poetry writing. I noticed one of the other reviewers commented about the interesting habit of falling in love with one "section" more than an other, which is somewhat hard to do g With an anthology like this, you're going to have hits and misses, and I've read both the positive and negative reviews here and in the various media outlets. However, overall, I have to give it four stars for the clarity and crispness of the poets. Several of them, to me, felt as if they were bringing something new to poetry writing. I noticed one of the other reviewers commented about the interesting habit of falling in love with one "section" more than an other, which is somewhat hard to do given that there aren't any "sections." Instead, the poems are arranged alphabetically by the authors' last names. Still, I, too, found areas were there was a heavier habit of earmarking pages. Mine occurred mostly in the mid-section, say around page 50 through page 110. Among these, my favorite poems included the following: 1. Billy Collins' "The Great American Poem" 2. James Cummins' "Freud" 3. Alice Friman's "Getting Serious" 4. Barbara Goldberg's "The Fullness Thereof 5. Jim Harrison's "Sunday Discordancies" 6. K.A. Hays' "The Way of All the Earth" 7. Maud Kelly's "What I Think of Death, If Anyone's Asking" 8. Lance Larsen's "Why do you keep putting animal's in your poems?" 9. Philip Levine's "Words on the Wind" 10. Sarah Lindsay's "Tell the Bees" 11. Mary Oliver's "Red" 12. Susan Blackwell Ramsey's "Pickled Heads: St. Petersburg" 13. Keith Ratzlaff's "Turn" 14. Debbie Yee's "Cinderella's Last Will and Testament" If I were to pick the top three, it would be Yee, Ramsey, and a very, very close toss up between Lindsay, Goldberg, Hays, and Kelly (picking one of the last four is very difficult).

  9. 5 out of 5

    C

    An on again - off again series for me, yet a series that I have to check out each year - even if it only introduces me to one or two poets that I hadn't read before. I really liked this year's volume quite a bit, folding over many pages and adding many books to my Amazon wishlist. Interesting notes: I always find it fascinating in a collection like this - where it is arranged alphabetically - that I would find sections that I prefer. In this particular collection, I found that I vastly preferred t An on again - off again series for me, yet a series that I have to check out each year - even if it only introduces me to one or two poets that I hadn't read before. I really liked this year's volume quite a bit, folding over many pages and adding many books to my Amazon wishlist. Interesting notes: I always find it fascinating in a collection like this - where it is arranged alphabetically - that I would find sections that I prefer. In this particular collection, I found that I vastly preferred the first half of the alphabet to the second half. The vast majority of folded pages occur before page 53. I folded over the page of a poem by Craig Morgan Teicher before I realized I had given his book 2 stars. This poem was not included, but I felt it was much stronger than the book I read. The gender breakdown: my favorites in this collection included 9 female and 10 male poets. I found myself having less interest in the author's notes this time around. Me? Or the writing?

  10. 5 out of 5

    SmarterLilac

    Good. David Wagoner is an old favorite of mine from way back--I first read his poem, 'Staying Alive' in ninth grade and thought it was epic. He did a great job findings these selections. Many longer poems in this collection, more than I usually find in the BAP anthologies. Not a lot of strong emotion, although some, like Fleda Brown's terrific 'Roofers' stand out for that reason. More nature poetry than I care for, but at least the poems that have the environment as their theme go very deep. Also Good. David Wagoner is an old favorite of mine from way back--I first read his poem, 'Staying Alive' in ninth grade and thought it was epic. He did a great job findings these selections. Many longer poems in this collection, more than I usually find in the BAP anthologies. Not a lot of strong emotion, although some, like Fleda Brown's terrific 'Roofers' stand out for that reason. More nature poetry than I care for, but at least the poems that have the environment as their theme go very deep. Also, it was nice to see experts like Sharon Olds and Kevin Young continue to be represented in this series.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Lee

    I keep reading this series habitually, even though I haven't really enjoyed most of a collection in years. Just for my own reference, the poems I found interesting: "Ring Tone", Bruce Bond "Mum's the Word", Bob Hicok "How to Be Eaten by a Lion", Michael Johnson "Red", Mary Oliver (usually don't like her work) "On Mercy", Kevin Prufer "Love", Martha Silano "Like a Monkey", Mitch Sisskind "At the New York Public Library, I heard Derek Walcott dismiss the prose poem", Vincent Stanley "Ultimately Justice Dir I keep reading this series habitually, even though I haven't really enjoyed most of a collection in years. Just for my own reference, the poems I found interesting: "Ring Tone", Bruce Bond "Mum's the Word", Bob Hicok "How to Be Eaten by a Lion", Michael Johnson "Red", Mary Oliver (usually don't like her work) "On Mercy", Kevin Prufer "Love", Martha Silano "Like a Monkey", Mitch Sisskind "At the New York Public Library, I heard Derek Walcott dismiss the prose poem", Vincent Stanley "Ultimately Justice Directs Them", Craig Morgan Teicher "A Sea-Change", Derek Walcott

  12. 4 out of 5

    martha

    I found the selections in here really prosaic; lots of plodding, unmemorable narrative poems. Where are the poems having fun with language? Where are the interesting, experimental, make-you-sit-up-and-take-notice poems? I know it's BAP, so it's going to play it fairly safe, but I think they could have done much better. Of course there were a few great finds in here, but mostly I felt meh. For a rundown on the entertaining literary drama/feud being played out in the opening essay, see this review: I found the selections in here really prosaic; lots of plodding, unmemorable narrative poems. Where are the poems having fun with language? Where are the interesting, experimental, make-you-sit-up-and-take-notice poems? I know it's BAP, so it's going to play it fairly safe, but I think they could have done much better. Of course there were a few great finds in here, but mostly I felt meh. For a rundown on the entertaining literary drama/feud being played out in the opening essay, see this review: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...

  13. 4 out of 5

    Edward

    I wasn't too impressed by the selection of poetry selected for 2009. Was it just me (I have to admit I read most of the poems before going to bed and they usually put me to sleep) or was it the poems. I did like the first one, though, a poem by John Ashbury, made up entirely of movie titles which began with "they". The good thing about a poetry collection like this, though, is that the poems are short, and if you don't like one, you haven't expended a lot of time or energy on it. I wasn't too impressed by the selection of poetry selected for 2009. Was it just me (I have to admit I read most of the poems before going to bed and they usually put me to sleep) or was it the poems. I did like the first one, though, a poem by John Ashbury, made up entirely of movie titles which began with "they". The good thing about a poetry collection like this, though, is that the poems are short, and if you don't like one, you haven't expended a lot of time or energy on it.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ingrid Keir

    This version of BAP has a great discussion of poetry in America as well as the role of the critic. In the introduction by the series editor, David Lehman, he picks apart the role a critic should play. He goes on to give the big middle finger to one pessimistic-jerky-critic (aka William Logan) who is less interested in constructive feedback and writes like Howard Stern. Read it! It is a great and sensitive response to the naysayers out there.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    I've read a few of these elsewhere and they are good, though there are a number of poems in this collection that don't hit for me at all. On the whole, the poems are precise with a clear point of view. There is a voice, rather than an excess of narration or imagery. Not much play here, though, either in humor or quirks of language. I've read a few of these elsewhere and they are good, though there are a number of poems in this collection that don't hit for me at all. On the whole, the poems are precise with a clear point of view. There is a voice, rather than an excess of narration or imagery. Not much play here, though, either in humor or quirks of language.

  16. 5 out of 5

    James

    Love David Wagoner, and he's picked some good stuff: "Beasts and Violins," "The Safe-House," "Sweat," "Love". Some of the contributors' comments were out-of-control long, though. Be forewarned. Love David Wagoner, and he's picked some good stuff: "Beasts and Violins," "The Safe-House," "Sweat," "Love". Some of the contributors' comments were out-of-control long, though. Be forewarned.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Tiffany Hickox

    At first I wasn't too pleased, but once I got further into the book the poems were written in a more favorable style. The editor groups poems of particular styles together, and they seemed to progress from more traditional to those that have a more modern flavor. At first I wasn't too pleased, but once I got further into the book the poems were written in a more favorable style. The editor groups poems of particular styles together, and they seemed to progress from more traditional to those that have a more modern flavor.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kyle Brandon Smith

    I thought I didn't like poetry. Never mind. There are a good amount of poems in this book that are simply fantastic. These poets are doing incredible things for the world of modern poetry. Barring these poems, the rest of this book is a lot of the trite shit one would expect. I thought I didn't like poetry. Never mind. There are a good amount of poems in this book that are simply fantastic. These poets are doing incredible things for the world of modern poetry. Barring these poems, the rest of this book is a lot of the trite shit one would expect.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kevin

    A writer friend of mine suggest writer's read a little poetry everyday, and this was my most recent poetry book. The poems were hit or miss for me. I loved the Insect Collector's Demise by Jude Nutter. A writer friend of mine suggest writer's read a little poetry everyday, and this was my most recent poetry book. The poems were hit or miss for me. I loved the Insect Collector's Demise by Jude Nutter.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Nina

    This is a wonderful series, edited by David Lehman, who consistently writes a provocative and interesting foreword. The 2009 edition, guest edited by David Wagoner, is one of the strongest in the series. Poet bios include standard info as well as the poet's thoughts on the included selection. This is a wonderful series, edited by David Lehman, who consistently writes a provocative and interesting foreword. The 2009 edition, guest edited by David Wagoner, is one of the strongest in the series. Poet bios include standard info as well as the poet's thoughts on the included selection.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

    Honestly, I wanted to see what is out there in the poetry, and I am convinced today's poets now all live boring lives, and half scratch at something but it never turns raw. But I shouldn't criticize right? I should write, right? Honestly, I wanted to see what is out there in the poetry, and I am convinced today's poets now all live boring lives, and half scratch at something but it never turns raw. But I shouldn't criticize right? I should write, right?

  22. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    Wherein I learn that Elizabeth Bird's (Fuse #8) mom is a poet. I also read a lot of good poems. Wherein I learn that Elizabeth Bird's (Fuse #8) mom is a poet. I also read a lot of good poems.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Tracy

    Ok, some good stuff.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Dave

    ‘It was the night I embraced Ron’s wife a bit too long / because he’d refused to kiss me goodbye / that I realized the essential nature of sound.’

  25. 5 out of 5

    Therese Broderick

    I liked best the poems by Bond, Boruch, Hayden, Lux, Nutter, Trethewey, and Young. The Forward and Introduction were good.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Hughes

    I've been out of the poetry scene for a while, bit I picked this up on a lark at the library and thoroughly enjoyed it. I've been out of the poetry scene for a while, bit I picked this up on a lark at the library and thoroughly enjoyed it.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Cami

    A well-compiled collection. This is something I'd love to own. Many of these were very striking. A well-compiled collection. This is something I'd love to own. Many of these were very striking.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Joannmullis

    An interesting collection of poems. I liked the essay by David Lehman, thought provoking.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Katy

  30. 5 out of 5

    Patrick Kennedy

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