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The Best American Poetry
Welcome to The Best American Poetry blog. We launched this blog in January, 2008, to create a place where we and friends can exchange, discuss, and argue about poems and poetry. We soon discovered that it would be even more fun to post about anything that fuels our passions, be it movies or sex or baseball or ballet or cocktails or finance or music, because these are, after all, the same subjects that generate poems. Then we flung the doors open and invited others to join in. And we decided that contributors to the blog need not be poets as long as they share a love of good writing and poetry. The only things we ask our regular and guest bloggers to avoid are personal attacks. You'll find enough of that stuff elsewhere. We celebrate freedom of expression. The opinionS of our contributors are their own and not necessarily those of the blog's editorial team or of other contributors. We welcome comments as long as they keep within the bounds of civil discourse. Our roster of correspondents is always changing. We are large! We contain multitudes! Please visit often.Our roster of correspondents is always changing. We are large! We contain multitudes! Please visit often.
Interests: music, food, finance, cocktails, movies, baseball, sex, poetry, mad men.
Recent Activity
Thank you for the wonderful review -- astute, insightful and generous. I love thinking of the book as both "a grand map of misreading" and "a pheasant disappearing in the brush." That latter phrase is one of Stevens's definitions of poetry, and I love it. As for the former, why don't I have a copy sent t hard-to-pleas Harold and see what he says.
Eternity---is a Neighbor’s plot— Sleeping in one Trench-- a Wish— Bisected by the Plow—then Doubt— The Sun---a peering Dish. My Apron--holds the Horizon— And in my Eye—a Globe— Then Corn-- a tall Procession-- Seraphim-- of the Ground-- -- Billy Collins Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at The Best American Poetry
This comes to us from poet Bernard Welt via Terence Winch: [O]ur friend and colleague Doug Lang faces serious medical issues, and his expenses exceed his resources—as so often is the case with those who have devoted themselves to writing and teaching. We are reaching out to you, the community for whom Doug so often proved a tireless advocate and ally, to donate what you can to defray the expenses of his care at Springvale Terrace in Silver Spring MD. Doug Lang, born in Swansea, Wales, came to the US in 1973, and quickly became the most American of poets. In Washington, DC, he has been for many years a human hub of the local community of writers and artists. The reading series he directed at Folio Books helped establish the DC-New York-Bay Area poetry axis that fostered the work of dozens of emerging poets in the ‘70s and ‘80s. His own work, in collections like Hot Shot, Magic Fire Chevrolet, and Dérangé, and in many small-press and zine publications, has influenced American poets and poetry for decades. His erudite command of literature, cinema, music, and visual art, his wit, and his indefatigable spirit of patience and good will have inspired the admiration of writers throughout the US and around the world. Please help Doug Lang's friends reach their fundraising goal so that Doug can get the medical help he needs. Find out more about this campaign here. And please spread the word. -- sdl Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at The Best American Poetry
There will never be another you, softly crooned the singing star, and there will never be another me, muttered the poet alone at the bar. -- Billy Collins Continue reading
Posted Apr 14, 2017 at The Best American Poetry
Johnny Podres, 1955 World Series Game 3 We have our friend Jim Cummins to thank for this podcast of baseball-inspired poems that comes to us from University of Cincinnati Elliston Project. Jim is the innovator who curated the Elliston Poetry Collection for over three decades, beginning in the mid-1970s. He was inspired to record visiting poets and writers and compile the archive during an especially beautiful reading on a spring afternoon by Lucien Stryk. Alas the Elliston Project as it was shaped and steered by Jim Cummins no longer exists. But thanks to his vision, we have a rich and deep archive (800 hours!) filled with the voices of some of our most celebrated poets. Click on the links to hear these great poems: All tracks Podcast [complete] Track 01 Introduction Track 02 Jim Hall reading Ernest Thayer's "Casey at the Bat" (1985) Track 03 Jim Cummins reading Grantland Rice's "Casey's Revenge" (1985) Track 04 John Drury, "Stadium" (2003) Track 05 John Drury, "Ghazal of Baseball" (2003) Track 06 Wyatt Prunty, "Baseball" (1999) Track 07 Wyatt Prunty, "A Baseball Team of Unknown Navy Pilots, Pacific Theater, 1944" (1999) Track 08 Robert Pinsky, "Night Game" (1991) Track 09 Ada Limón, "The Good Wave" (2017) Track 10 Alan Feldman, "Monday Evening Softball" (1979) Track 11 David Lehman, "Ninth Inning" (1995) Track 12 Arthur Smith, "Extra Innings" (1986) Read Jim Cummin's posts about the Elliston Project here, here, and here, -- sdl Continue reading
Posted Apr 14, 2017 at The Best American Poetry
Elizabeth Lund, in her latest poetry round-up for the Washington Post, reviews the latest collections by David Lehman, Airea D. Matthews, and Robert Wrigley. About David Lehman's collection, she writes, <<< In 2002, David Lehman began an intriguing exercise: to write poems that both honored and mimicked the works of his favorite poets. Lehman’s choices were wide — ranging from Wordsworth, Whitman and Keats to Gwendolyn Brooks, Charles Bukowski and Bob Dylan. His approximations also paid homage to cultural icons, including Marilyn Monroe and the Brooklyn Bridge. Together in one volume, Poems in the Manner Of(Scribner), these works read like an eclectic course in major poets and poetic movements. Lehman, who founded and is the series editor of Best American Poetry, introduces each “poem in the manner of” with notes about the subject’s style and approach, or about what he tried to achieve with his rendition. The strongest work captures the spirit of the original yet also stands on its own merits, as with “Poem in the manner of Basho: “Pond/ Frog/ Splash” or with the lovely translation of Goethe’s “Wandrers Nachtlied,” which begins with quiet coming across the treetops and ends with “Just wait; soon you/ Will be quiet, too.” As the collection continues, readers see how modeling one’s writing after the masters can lead to fascinating discoveries and extend one’s own poetic range. >>> Cick here for her reviews of Matthews and Wrigley. "You have to read the punctuation." Alan Zeigler (r) comments on David Lehman's "Poem in the Manner of Emily Dickinson" during an interview at Book Culture Bookstore, April 6, 2017 Continue reading
Posted Apr 5, 2017 at The Best American Poetry
It didn't happen because of last-minute cancellation.
What a great and unlikely conjunction of names and sensibilities: Bob Dylan opens up about his recent turn to the standards that Sinatra, Ella, Nat Cole, Crosby, Torme, Judy Garland and Jo Stafford sang. Dylan's understanding of the music is impressive, and if only he had a better voice the records would be wonderful. As it is I would sooner listen to Dylan sing an Irving Berlin song than, say, Rod Stewart, who turns everything into elevator music. Dylan can feel the lyrics and knows his job is to serve them as best he can. The voice carries conviction if not always the tune. It is easy to imagine young Bob listening to Sinatra. Bob loved Harold Arlen and no one sang Arlen songs better than Sinatra: 'Blues in the Night,' 'Last Night when We Were Young,' 'That Old Black Magic," 'I've Got the World on a String.' I can't imagine Sinatra listening to Dylan records, but the scene of the blue-eyed boys as described by Dylan below has the smack of truth.-- DL Q&A with Bill Flanagan MAR 22, 2017 Bob Dylan, from an interview with Bill Flanagan, March 22, 2017 Exclusive to Up to the sixties, these songs were everywhere – now they have almost faded away. Do they mean more to you when you hear them now? They do mean a lot more. These songs are some of the most heartbreaking stuff ever put on record and I wanted to do them justice. Now that I have lived them and lived through them I understand them better. They take you out of that mainstream grind where you’re trapped between differences which might seem different but are essentially the same. Modern music and songs are so institutionalized that you don’t realize it. These songs are cold and clear-sighted, there is a direct realism in them, faith in ordinary life just like in early rock and roll. It’s hard not to think of World War II when we hear some of these. You were born during the war – do you remember anything about it? Not much. I was born in Duluth – industrial town, ship yards, ore docks, grain elevators, mainline train yards, switching yards. It’s on the banks of Lake Superior, built on granite rock. Lot of fog horns, sailors, loggers, storms, blizzards. My mom says there were food shortages, food rationing, hardly any gas, electricity cutting off – everything metal in your house you gave to the war effort. It was a dark place, even in the light of day – curfews, gloomy, lonely, all that sort of stuff – we lived there till I was about five, till the end of the war. *** People called Shadows in the Night a tribute to Frank Sinatra. Did you know Sinatra had recorded all those songs when you put that record out? Yeah, I knew he did, but a lot of other people recorded them as well, it just so happened that he had the best... Continue reading
Posted Mar 31, 2017 at The Best American Poetry
Inside sources tell us that Tom Selleck (above left), who plays police commissioner Francis (Frank) Reagan on TV's "Blue Bloods," has established a New York City residence on the down low in order to place his name in nomination for this year's mayoralty race in New York. Selleck has long nursed political ambitions. The surprise is that the actor, wooed by Republicans, is mulling over the idea of running against Mayor de Blasio in the Democratic primary. The rumor has excited fans of the veteran actor. "Staten Island needs more respect," said one islander, Stella Carabella, who noted that the Reagans eat their Sunday night dinners in a big house on Staten Island. "It's the most underrated borough," she told New York Post reporter Jackie Lyons. The Reagan family was said to have discussed the possibility of a mayoral run with yes votes from Danny, Jamie, Erin (played by Bridget Moynihan, pictured right) and Nicky. Grandpa Henry abstained, as did Linda Reagan (Danny's spouse). Jack and Sean, though too young to vote, voiced their support. Vanessa Ray, who plays Eddie Jenko, Jamie's partner, refused to comment though she did call attention to the dubious fundraising tactics of the de Blasio administration. It is conceivable that Eddie and Jamie, who kissed on November 11, 2016, will campaign in tandem for Jamie's dad. Henry Reagan (played by Len Cariou) refused to explain his abstention on the key vote but insisted that, contrary to published reports, the TV Reagans are unrelated to the late Ronald Reagan (above right). The early Ronald Reagan was an FDR Democrat who supported abortion rights during his tenure as governor of California, which means a lot to my wife Stacey. Erin Reagan moved to New York City at age eighteen and began her modeling career with high-profile appearances in Vogue and Elle. "Erin and I are alike," Bridget Moynihan told David Frost, with the crucial difference that unlike the police commissioner's daughter, who is an assistant district attorney, she (Bridget) dated Patriots' quarterback Tom Brady for three years (with an amicable parting of the ways that was duly reported in People in 2006). Brady is the father of their son, John Edward Thomas Moynihan, who turns ten on August 22 of this year. Bridget is unrelated to the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan. She resides in Pacific Palisades and is married to businessman Andrew Frankel. -- Allie Reynolds Ed. note: Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Arthur Krock is a pseudonym for Yankee pitcher Allie ("the Chief") Reynolds. Continue reading
Posted Mar 31, 2017 at The Best American Poetry
What was it like to be interviewed by Nancy Mitchell, the poet and painter whom Nin Andrews profiled on the Best American Poetry blog (Jan 24, 2017)? I loved the exchanges while they were going on and again when Nancy put them together for Plume. Read it yourself and you'll see. It is always a pleasure to be drawn into an unexpected direction, which is what happened. I think both nancy and I were surprised at the turns the conversation took. If you haven't read Nancy Mitchell's stunning poem "What About," here it is as featured by Nin Andrews: --- DL What about sushi with the Merkles merlot or cabernet would be fine with Martin What about taking Max for a stroll at sunset taking Max What about dinner with the dean coffee with Don at ten What about he said he’d call by 11 hopping in the shower at 11:15 dropping the whole thing What about she doesn’t like being on top What about mayonnaise method of removing water stain from wood What about Mother’s face behind a comic book Brother’s face What about lime neon bra with matching panties a doll with my face a full-time phone lover a phone life a phone liar a phony the silence of cold spoons -- Nancy Mitchell Continue reading
Posted Mar 25, 2017 at The Best American Poetry
Excellent piece. I love "What About." -- DL
Love it, Alan. - DL
When you live in a tiny apartment, as I did when I first moved to NYC, it seems that much of your thinking is devoted to how to make the best use of the space. My first apartment in New York City was just under 200 square feet, including the bathroom. Gene Kelly's apartment here looks to be even smaller. You have to admire his design savvy and his dancer's grace makes navigating the space look easy. I love the dresser drawers on the inside of his closet. Also his pajamas. Continue reading
Posted Mar 21, 2017 at The Best American Poetry
Hammerstein's best lyric. Note the similes. The perfect song for Dick Haymes. Rodgers explained the music by saying that it depended on the movement of a puppet on a string. Once he established the musical phrase for that, everything else fell into place. Spring, we'v been been waiting for you a long time and the difference between poetry and prose is the difference between speaking voice and the singing voice. Continue reading
Posted Mar 20, 2017 at The Best American Poetry
The last time I saw Tim Dlugos was 30 December 1989. We met for dinner at Kramer Books & Afterwords, the first bookstore/café in the land (as far as I know). It’s one of the few independent bookstores still going strong in DC, but probably more because of the food than the books. Tim had been battling AIDS for a while, and I remember being a little apprehensive about seeing him, wondering to what extent the disease might have changed him. So his arrival came as a relief, a cause for optimism—he looked better than ever, and seemed full of energy and purpose. Starting in the early 1970s, Tim and I were part of a group of poets who participated in an open reading every Monday night in a room over the Community Book Shop in Dupont Circle in DC. The readings, called Mass Transit, were started by Michael Lally in 1971. Mass Transit was a poetry lab, where all experiments were welcome, or at least tolerated. Many poets came up through Mass Transit, and became friends—Ed Cox, Lee Lally, Beth Joselow, Tina Darragh, Pete Inman, Liam Rector, Lynne Dreyer, Phyllis Rosenzweig, and Bernie Welt, to mention a few. We hosted a reading series at the Pyramid Gallery, bringing poets like John Ashbery to town to read with local poets. We also started a publishing venture called Some of Us Press, bringing out chapbooks by everyone from Ed Cox to Bruce Andrews. Michael left for New York in 1975, and I think Tim left town around the same time. Fortunately, Doug Lang appeared on the scene and, in his capacity as manager of Folio Books, also in Dupont Circle, became the same kind of catalyst that Michael Lally had been. Doug’s Folio readings featured Ted Berrigan, Tom Raworth, Ray DiPalma, Barbara Guest, Maureen Owen, Susan Howe, Fielding Dawson, Ted Greenwald, and dozens of others, each usually paired with a DC poet. Doug, who started a small press called Jawbone and was part of another called Titanic Books, also hosted a number of workshops, whose participants included Diane Ward, Joan Retallack, and others. In fact, Some of Us Press published High There by Tim in 1973, which I believe was his first book, and in 1977, Jawbone brought out Tim’s chapbook For Years. In New York, Tim seemed to flourish. He became editor of the St. Mark’s Poetry Project newsletter for a while, his magnetism and openness as a person always drawing people to him. He also partied hard in the big city. Later, in poems like “Powerless,” he would write with great passion about getting sober. Tim’s masterpiece is the poem “G-9,” named after the AIDS ward at Roosevelt Hospital in NYC. I’m not an expert in the literature to come out of the AIDS epidemic, but it’s hard to believe there is anything in that body of work more vivid and powerful than this poem (here's the text of "G-9"). In November of 1989, Tim sent me a fat... Continue reading
Posted Mar 18, 2017 at The Best American Poetry
"Those famous lovers we'l make them forget / from Adam and Eve to Scarletrt and Rhett. . ." ". . .look at Gershwin, he's as good as Bach or Beethoven. . .best of all it's American" Continue reading
Posted Mar 17, 2017 at The Best American Poetry
We're thrilled to announce that Terence Winch's most recent album, This Day Too: Music From Irish America is now available for download from the Free Dirt site, Spotify, iTunes, and Amazon. You will find in these songs the same talent and insights that we so admire in Terence's poems. I love this video of the tender "Childhood Ground" with its haunting evocation of a lost time and place, made all the more moving by the spare arrangement and Eileen Este's pure, clear soprano. You can purchase This Day Too here. -- sdl Continue reading
Posted Mar 17, 2017 at The Best American Poetry
She: I like Jack Benny's jokes He: To a degree She: I like the common folks He: That includes me She: I like to window shop on Fifth Avenue He: I like banana splits, late suppers at the Ritz, How about you? I'd like to dream of fame, / maybe I'll shine, / I'd like to see your name, / right beside mine, / I can see we're in harmony, / looks like we both agree / on what to do, / and I like it, how about you? (music Burton Lane, lyrics Ralph Freed) Continue reading
Posted Mar 14, 2017 at The Best American Poetry
Ruth Awad and her "disco" bear Hard to believe but it's been 9 years since we have cheered on Bill Cohen, one of our favorite bloggers, as he has assembled an array of tattooed poets for Tattoosday's annual tribute to National Poetry Month. We are once again happy to spread the word to inked poets everywhere. Bill would like to post an image of your tattoo on Tattoosday every day during April. Tattoos need not be literary in nature to qualify. If your ink is featured, Bill hopes to give a little history of your tattoo, some background about you and your poetry, and he'll include links to your own website, books, and poems. With your permission, he'll even post a poem. Thus far, Bill has featured 290 poets! Help him surpass 300 this April. You can see who's been cool enough to join the ranks here . For more details and to express your interest,please contact Bill at -- sdl Continue reading
Posted Mar 10, 2017 at The Best American Poetry
Дэвид Лиман – известный американский поэт и литературный деятель, основатель знаменитой и престижной BestAmerican Poetry (ежегодной антологии современной американской поэзии). Он также является составителем и редактором Оксфордской антологии поэзии, автором нескольких сборников стихов и эссеистики и замечательный переводчик русской поэзии на английский (в особенности – Владимира Маяковского). Ниже мы приводим полный перевод статьи Дэвида Лимана в блоге Wall Street Journal, где он пишет о присуждении Нобелевской премии Бобу Дилану и анализирует творчество выдающегося рок-поэта. Текст публикуется с разрешения автора. Не успело в прошлом месяце появиться известие о том, что Боб Дилан получил Нобелевскую премию по литературе, как начались баталии. Энтузиасты припоминали, как мистер Дилан ворвался в культуру и изменил ее. Как его фразы стали летучими. “The times they are a-changin” («Времена, они меняются»). “There are no truths outside the Gates of Eden” («Нет правды за Райскими Вратами»). “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows” («Не нуженсиноптик, чтобы понять, куда ветер дует»). “He not busy being born is busy dying” («Тот, кто не занят рождением, занят умиранием») for more, click here Continue reading
Posted Mar 9, 2017 at The Best American Poetry
NYU BOOKSTORE Reading, Q&A, Signing Esteemed poet and editor of the Best American Poetry series, David Lehman will read from his new collection POEMS IN THE MANNER OF 726 Broadway, 7th Floor New York, NY 10003 Continue reading
Posted Mar 7, 2017 at The Best American Poetry
for Paul Violi In my thirtieth year, Drunk and no stranger to disgrace, I grin wisely from ear to ear Despite the fear I’ve had to face, Clown that I am, condemned By Thibaud d'Assole’s command Threatened and even damned By the faker with the crozier in his hand. Continue reading
Posted Mar 6, 2017 at The Best American Poetry