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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
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I had to laugh out loud when I was reading State of the Art by David Lehman, and I came across this quote from Nicholoson Baker's The Anthologist. Continue reading
Posted yesterday at The Best American Poetry
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This week we welcome Don Freas as our guest author. Don is a poet and sculptor, and was a furniture designer-craftsman for forty years. Raised in Pennsylvania, he migrated in 1972 to the Pacific Northwest where he lives and works along the shores of Puget Sound in Olympia, Washington. He holds a 1996 MFA from Bennington College. His most recent book of poems is SWALLOWING THE WORLD: NEW AND SELECTED POEMS (Lost Arts Design, 2015). You can find more information about his poetry at donfreaspoetry.com, sculpture and furniture at donfreas.com. Follow Don on twitter @donfreas. Welcome, Don. sdh & DL Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at The Best American Poetry
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PHOTO: YAO XIAO If our age is apocalyptic in mood—and rife with doomsday scenarios, nuclear nightmares, religious fanatics and suicidal terrorists—there may be no more chilling statement of our condition than William Butler Yeats’s poem “The Second Coming.” Written in 1919, in the immediate aftermath of the epoch-ending disaster that was World War I, “The Second Coming” extrapolates a fearful vision from the moral anarchy of the present. The poem also, almost incidentally, serves as an introduction to the great Irish poet’s complex conception of history, which is cyclical, not linear. Things happen twice, the first time as sublime, the second time as horrifying, so that, instead of the “second coming” of the savior, Jesus Christ, Yeats envisages a monstrosity, a “rough beast” threatening violence commensurate with the human capacity for bloodletting. continue reading at the Wall Street Journal (If you're not a subscriber, a Google "News" search using "WSJ David Lehman" as your terms will take you to the full piece. sdh) Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at The Best American Poetry
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The day was momentous, but parties were mixed blessings. You got presents, all right—pick-up sticks, or crayons, or flat boxes of modeling clay in many colored strips—but they were the lesser presents of party admissions. And we all had to sit at the table with ridiculous pointed paper hats, and paper plates and noisemakers and popping balloons and pretend to a joyful delirium. In fact, a birthday party was a satire on children directed by their mothers, who hovered about, distributing Dixie Cups and glasses of milk while cooing in appreciation for the aesthetics of the event, the way each child was dressed for it and so on; and who set us upon one another in games of the most acute competition, so that we either cried in humiliation or punched each other to inflict pain. And it was all done up in the impermanent materials of crepe paper, thin rubber and tin, everything painted in the gaudy color of lies. And the climax of the chaos, blowing out candles on the cake, presented likely possibility of public failure and a loss of luck in the event the thing was not done well. In fact, I had a secret dread of not being able to blow out the candles before they burned down to the icing. That meant death. Candles burning down to the end, as in my grandmother’s tumblers of candles, which could not be tampered with once lit, memorialized someone’s death. And the Friday-night Sabbath candles that she lit with her hands covering her eyes, the shawl over her head, suggested to me her irremediable grief, a pantomime of the loss of sight that comes to the dead under the earth. So I blew for my life, to have some tallow left for the following year. My small chest heaved and I was glad for my mother’s head beside mind, adding to the gust, even though it would mean I had not done the job the way one was supposed to, with aplomb. from World's Fair (Random House, 1985) Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at The Best American Poetry
Great to have you on board, Anna. -- DL
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I became a convert to James Tate’s poetry when he published Constant Defender and Reckoner in 1983 and ’86 respectively. I was asked to review his work for the Washington Post Book World, and this in part is what I wrote: “Tate brings to his work an extravagantly surrealistic imagination and a willingness to let his words take him where they will. Nonchalant in the midst of radical uncertainty, he handles bizarre details as though they were commonplace facts. [Tate’s poetry draws upon] so rich a fund of comic energy that it may well prove an antidote to the anxiety some readers feel with poems that refuse to lend themselves to instant analysis.” What I did not suspect was the break-out success that occurred a few years later with Distance from Loved Ones. Tate had always had a unique comic sensibility – he was hilarious but with an edge, almost a menacing edge. He continued to write poems that enlarged the boundaries of the comic imagination. But suddenly there was an overflow of wonderful prose poems – the title poem of Distance from Loved Ones, for example -- and for the next twenty-five years, Jim managed to reinvent the prose poem as a form while turning them out at an astonishingly prolific rate. Some could be read as parables, some as shaggy dog stories; there were those that depended on a single idea carried to an extreme and others in which the dialogue took over. He was a master of the uncanny. It is quite possible that no poet of our time has done more to integrate narrative and poetry than has James Tate. Poets are greater than the sum of their influences, but to get an idea of where Tate comes from you would need to consider the tales of the "grotesque and arabesque" of Edgar Allan Poe, the French surrealists with their exaltation of chance and accident, the casual diction of New York School poets and the value they place on variety and possibility, and the wild fabulism of certain South American writers – an assemblage that suggests a diversity of impulse while conveying only the vaguest idea of what Tate was up to when he undertook to satirize a concept in such prose poems as “National Security” or “Bounden Duty." For the writer interested in the prose poem there is no one’s work that will prove as rewarding as that of James Tate. In Dome of the Hidden Pavilion, Jim’s latest book, scheduled to appear from the Ecco Press in August, there is a poem entitled “Invisible,” which I find charming although it doesn’t have the metaphoric richness of, say, “The Key to the Universe” in the same book. The story in “Invisible” is deliberately banal, concerning the chance meetings of two men. One of them knows the other, or acts as if he does; but the speaker tells us he “didn’t know the man,” so the encounters are always just this side of ghostly. When the... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at The Best American Poetry
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In his wonderful book, State of the Art, David Lehman writes: After observing that "every revolution in poetry" is at base "a return to common speech," T.S. Eliot in "The Music of Poetry" (1942) goes on to give the rationale for this sort of "talk poetry": "No poetry, of course, is ever exactly the same speech that the poet talks and hears" but it has to be in such a relation to the speech of his time that the listener or reader can say 'that is how I should talk if I could talk poetry.'' Continue reading
Posted Jul 20, 2015 at The Best American Poetry
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This week we welcome Anna Cypra Oliver as our guest author. Anna is the author of the acclaimed memoir Assembling My Father (Houghton Mifflin, 2004; Mariner Books, 2006). Her essays have appeared in The Inquisitive Eater (published along with her painting, “Consider the Lobster,”), Tupelo Quarterly, Fourth Genre, and dislocate. She received a 2001 fellowship in nonfiction literature from the New York Foundation for the Arts and holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of Minnesota. These days, she spends most of her time painting instead of writing. Welcome, Anna. -- sdh Continue reading
Posted Jul 19, 2015 at The Best American Poetry
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Alex and Paul Violi Earlier this year I created my first class with Paul Violi, which was an attempt to know more about the poet’s inventive writing style and strategies for navigating life’s great joys and uncertainties. I scoured the Internet for clues on Violi’s literary habits, international forays, and teaching work. The search returned extensive praise for his poetry and overwhelming anecdotes on who he was as a friend and colleague. Continuing my hunt, a website listing the poet’s surname surfaced. I was curious, as the site had nothing to do with creative writing. It was instead for a personal trainer named Alex Violi. The photos on the site revealed an extremely fit individual, someone who pushed himself to the limits of physical prowess. Might this be the grown-up version of the Alexander mentioned in Violi’s “Little Testament”? I wondered. Responding to my inquiry, Alex confirmed that he was indeed the poet’s son, and in true Violi fashion, he amiably agreed to speak with me. We met one evening last February at Saint Alp’s Teahouse in the East Village. Alex wore all black and his head was shaved except for a mohawk leading into a braided ponytail. He spoke with a quiet confidence, and it wasn’t long before I saw the “golden attitude” that his father had used to describe him. Alex’s own sly humor flashed in between reflections of his father’s life and insights into the ways their lives converged. The following is an excerpt of our conversation. How do you feel that you and your dad are alike? He told me that we were alike in the way that we knew right away who we would like and who we wouldn’t like – who we could be around and who we knew we couldn’t be around. I guess he had a good read on people, and he said that I did as well. I think that just comes from being in New York. You learn how to read people throughout the years. Eventually you just get good at it. But we would debate as well. Are there ways that you see yourself as being different from your dad? Yeah. I don’t smoke. I don’t drink. He was a heavy, heavy smoker. I couldn’t stand it. I don’t eat meat. He was a huge meat eater. He hated gyms. I hate gyms, but it’s also like a love-hate thing. He drove in. I take the subway. I also lost my license for speeding, so I guess in that way we’re really similar, too. He lost his. He used to get really mad at me for my habit of getting speeding tickets. And then I found out he was getting his license suspended around the same time. So that argument stopped. I guess it was genetic. I don’t know. This is interesting because there’s his poem “Extenuating Circumstances,” which is directed to a police officer who’s just pulled him over: I don’t know how fast I was going but,... Continue reading
Posted Jul 15, 2015 at The Best American Poetry
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The Chicago-based Poetry Foundation has named an interim president and a new board chairman. Henry Bienen, acting president, served as president of Northwestern University for fifteen years from 1995 to 2009. "I started out in undergraduate school at Cornell University thinking poetry might be a vocation of sorts for me," Bienen says. "The great poet W.D. Snodgrass disabused me of that idea." Before coming to Northwestern, Bienen taught at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. The new board chairman is Richard Kiphart, whose successful career at William Blair & Company in Chicago prefigured an active role as a philanthropist. A Milwaukee native, Kiphart attended Dartmouth -- "My favorite poet, given I am a Dartmouth guy, is Robert Frost," he says -- and went on to take his MBA at Harvard. Asked to explain the Poetry Foundation's mandate -- to serve "poetry rather than poets" -- Kiphart says, "By building the largest possible audience for poetry, we believe that we are serving all poets." The first item on his agenda moving forward is "a national search for a new president." A Vietnam veteran, who served as an officer aboard a US Navy minesweeper, Kiphart responded warmly to the suggestion that the Poetry Foundation should support an effort to distribute books of poetry to US servicemen, as was done during WWII: "What an interesting idea! Happily, through our digital programs, we offer more than 13,000 poems for free, as well as every issue of the magazine, podcasts and lots of other content. This is another point of pride for the Foundation’s great work in building an amazing poetry archive." Since a monumental bequest by pharmaceutical heiress and poetry lover Ruth Lilly twelve years ago, the Poetry Foundation has been the nation's wealthiest organization devoted solely to poetry. It is worth noting that Kiphart lives in Chicago and that Northwestern, which Bienen headed, is in Evanston, part of the greater Chicago community. One implication is that the foundation recognizes that a part of its mission is Chicago-specific. A second implication is that there was a culture clash between the organization and its former president, Robert Polito, who served for a surprisingly abbreviated term of two years. Continue reading
Posted Jul 14, 2015 at The Best American Poetry
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Drawing by Dastan Abaskavov This week we welcome Alex Cigale as our guest author. Alex's English-language poems have appeared in Colorado, Green Mountains, and The Literary Reviews, and online in The Common, Drunken Boat and McSweeney's. His translations from the Russian can be found in Cimarron Review, Literary Imagination, Modern Poetry in Translation, New England Review, PEN America, TriQuarterly, Two Lines, andWorld Literature Today. He is on the editorial boards of MadHat Press, Plume, Springhouse Journal, St. Petersburg Review, Third Wednesday, and Verse Junkies. He is the editor of the Spring 2015 Russia Issue of the Atlanta Review and a 2015 NEA Translation Fellow, for his work on the poet of the St. Petersburg philological school Mikhail Eremin. From 2011 until 2013, he was an Assistant Professor at the American University of Central Asia in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. You can follow him on twitter @cigalex Continue reading
Posted Jul 13, 2015 at The Best American Poetry
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In The State of the Art, David Lehman writes: "Whitman recalls the moment when, as a boy alone on the shore of Long Island, he heard two mockingbirds sing, and then one stopped singing and the other missed his mate and sang elegiac songs to her, and suddenly Whitman understood his purpose in life, "what I am for." Continue reading
Posted Jul 13, 2015 at The Best American Poetry
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My mother told me years back that things are better nowadays than in the past. Though I reckon she was thinking of the bad-tempered draught-horses that scared her as a little girl, her words have bucked me up through the trouble I’ve seen so far. Besides, I can’t remember a moment when that woman has been straightforward about what concerned herself. There seem to have been things in the worse old days that disturbed her little-girl self even more than her Dad’s horses. I’m maybe meeting Karine for lunch, I believe, unless she can’t. It’s already late morning, so I’ll walk both toward possible lunch and the office. Up, then, down, the rue de Belleville. Karine has the strongest, most competent and loveliest woman-hands in the world. No woman under 50 can have hands like hers. Just in front of me: a very patient mother taking her good-humored 8 or 9-year old to school. She’s trailing her long-fingered unadorned right hand to feel the special smoothness of a worn metal fence-rail – nice, sure but some beauty can only be acquired by aging. Looking away, right: concrete public housing. All oblique walls, water stains & grey dust & business-like businesses on the ground floors. Everybody here is living off the side-effects of life as it’s organized today: medical services & fluid analyses, computer-repair and copies, nicotine injectors, unblocked cell-phones. There’s a little communal garden at the south-west corner, on rue Haxo, I think it is. A big hand-painted sign, now part-hidden by bushy roses tremière, reads “Nous sommes tous Charlie” – “We are all Charlie”. “We all” underlines Charlie’s inclusive nature, I guess, for the middle-aged, white French women who keep this garden going for this heavily-immigrant neighborhood. The fact is, all over the world les femmes d’un certain âge, white or not, keep the sweet things of ordinary life going. I bet a lot of them have hands almost as lovely and skillful as Karine’s. Charlie. To the astonishment of the world, Woodstock brought together a half million young people to have fun & listen to music & nothing but fun and music. “Je suis Charlie” brought together almost three million men, women & children to show publicly their belief that Liberté, Egalité, Solidarité are universal values. To my knowledge, this has never been done in such a straightforward way in such circumstances & spontaneously. And no-one was even sick. And, as far as I know, never in the checkered history of this lovely country have political murderers provoked so little fulmination against the friends, families and presumed ethnicity & religious orientation of the murderers. Fulmination ranging from the truly venomous to unintended comical being something people here will do against their political and cultural enemies. Viz., Charlie Hebdo. And then, too, Charlie were a mass of self-organized people standing up for right, not against wrong. “My golly,” a woman spoke to me as I shuffled there in the crowd. Quite bon ton, bon genre, she is, but old... Continue reading
Posted Jul 12, 2015 at The Best American Poetry
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NA: Tell me about YesYes Books. HB: YesYes Books publishes poetry, prose, & visual art that make us excited for the day. We publish in print & innovative electronic formats. We have full-length titles, chapbooks, e-books, music, and graphic poetry, and we’re always looking for what’s emerging and how best to show it to the world. NA: How did the press come about? Heather Brown HB: The press was founded by KMA Sullivan, a visionary dynamo of a woman--a storm, really--who raised a family of five and then went to graduate school, studied poetry, and decided she needed to start a press that would create art that makes life better. I joined two years ago as a volunteer and have become better acquainted with the press as its Publicist. We work with an amazing team of people all across the country who are writers and artists themselves, all very talented and tuned in to so many exciting new voices. Stevie Edwards, our Acquisitions Editor, is also the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Muzzle Magazine. She has a real talent for spotting work we should be paying attention to. Jill Kolongowski, our Managing Editor, is working on a many aspects of our distribution and internal organization. She is a nonfiction writer herself and is currently helping us usher our first nonfiction title into the world as we publish Ross Robbins’ Mental Hospital: A Memoir this fall. We turn five next year! Watch for the celebration at AWP. NA: How many books do you publish per year? HB: So far it has varied from year to year. Last year we published three (The Bones of Us by J. Bradley and Adam Scott Mazer, American Barricade by Danniel Schoonebeek, and [insert] boy by Danez Smith). This year we’ve already published five full-length books, and we have two more full-lengths (including our first nonfiction title) and three chapbooks coming up this fall. We are hoping to get into a standard pattern of four full-lengths, three print chaps (Vinyl 45s), The Pamet River Prize (a full-length), and one experimental project per year. We’ll see how close we come to sticking to that pattern. It’s hard to say no to new work that we fall in love with! NA: If you could describe a YesYes book, what makes it unique, what would you say? HB: Our aesthetic as a press is constantly evolving and expanding. Each book is its own work of art; they’re designed independently with artwork chosen specifically to be in conversation with the collection, so the books are distinct from one another, yet all of them speak intensely from the heart of each writer. We look for working where everything is at stake. We often publish first collections by authors who are just emerging and whose voices are just beginning to take the world by storm. YesYes Books titles are stealthy that way. I think they have a bit of a tendency to sneak into the world and then all of a sudden people... Continue reading
Posted Jul 11, 2015 at The Best American Poetry
22 de Marco A primeira vez que li o poema de Wallace Stevens “Esthetique du Mal” li mal eu li “a maior poesia* ´e n˜ao viver num mundo f´ısico” quando o que ele escreveu foi “a maior pobreza**´e n˜ao viver num mundo f´ısico” com globos de fruta na mesa ou um cacho de bananas e uvas azuis numa ta¸ca de cristal *poetry **poverty tr. Francisco José Craveiro de Carvalho from fanzine #16 March 22 The first time I read Wallace Stevens's poem "Esthetique du Mal" I misread it I read "the greatest poetry is not to live in a physical world" when what he wrote was "the greatest poverty is not to live in a physical world" with globes of fruit on the table or a bunch of bananas and blue grapes in a crystal bowl. "March 22" by David Lehman, from The Evening Sun: A Journal in Poetry (Scribner 2002) Continue reading
Posted Jul 10, 2015 at The Best American Poetry
Jim just loves to garden, yes he does. He likes nothing better than to put on his little overalls and his straw hat. He says, "Let's go get those tools, Jim." But then doubt begins to set in. He says, "What is a garden, anyway?" And thoughts about a "modernistic" garden begin to trouble him, eat away at his resolve. He stands in the driveway a long time. "Horticulture is a groping in the dark into the obscure and unfamiliar, kneeling before a disinterested secret, slapping it, punching it like a Chinese puzzle, birdbrained, babbling gibberish, dig and destroy, pull out and apply salt, hoe and spray, before it spreads, burn roots, where not desired, with gloved hands, poisonous, the self-sacrifice of it, the self-love, into the interior, thunderclap, excruciating, through the nose, the earsplitting necrology of it, the withering, shriveling, the handy hose holder and Persian insect powder and smut fungi, the enemies of the iris, wireworms are worse than their parents, there is no way out, flowers as big as heads, pock-marked, disfigured, blinking insolently at me, the me who so loves to garden because it prevents the heaving of the ground and the untimely death of porch furniture, and dark, murky days in a large city and the dream home under a permanent storm is also a factor to keep in mind." James Tate, "The Definition of Gardening" from Shroud of the Gnome (The Ecco Press, 1997) Continue reading
Posted Jul 9, 2015 at The Best American Poetry
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The inspiration for this comic comes from Chapter 2011 in David Lehman's State of the Art in which he quotes famous poets' definitions of great poetry. I have the woman in the comic quoting Stevens. The man is quoting Whitman. Continue reading
Posted Jul 6, 2015 at The Best American Poetry
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This week we welcome back Kate Angus as our guest author. Kate is a founding editor of Augury Books. She has been awarded A Room of Her Own Foundation’s Orlando prize and the Southeastern Review’s Narrative Nonfiction prize. A former Writer in Residence at Interlochen Arts Academy, she has also received residencies from the Writer’s Room at the Betsy Hotel in South Beach, the Wildfjords trail in Westfjords, Iceland, and the BAU Institute in Otranto, Italy. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Indiana Review, Subtropics, Court Green, Verse Daily, Quarterly West, The Awl, The Hairpin, The Rumpus, The Toast, failbetter, Best New Poets 2010 and Best New Poets 2014. Welcome back, Kate. -- sdh Continue reading
Posted Jul 5, 2015 at The Best American Poetry
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The Wall Street Journal reported last week that Sealed Air will introduce iBubble, a version of Bubble Wrap that will not pop under pressure. In the early 1960s, when my father was a salesman for Ethyl Visqueen Corporation, Sealed Air was one of his customers (along with Orchids of Hawaii, the makers of plastic leis). Whenever he returned from a sales call to Sealed Air's New Jersey factory, he brought home samples of Bubble Wrap that I could take to school and distribute like contraband to my classmates. Whatever brief periods of grade-school POPularity I experienced I owe to Bubble Wrap. The samples were packaged like pages in a loose-leaf notebook and smelled like gasoline. Once, the company experimented with Bubble Wrap in primary colors that it hoped to introduce as gift wrap; another time Sealed Air came up with sheets comprising large “bubbles” roughly one-inch in diameter. These were more difficult to pop and were more likely to deflate than to burst, which may not have hurt its value for packaging but was disappointing from the point of view of children wanting to disrupt the classroom with a chorus of fart noises. My suburban childhood home was partially furnished by Bubble Wrap. When we discovered my mother’s allergy to feathers, we removed the offending filling from our living-room furniture and replaced it with wads of Bubble Wrap. Drafty windows? Bubble Wrap. One day my father arrived home with two extra-large rolls of the stuff. These my mother turned on their sides and disguised with slip-covers fashioned from yellow fake fur, for lightweight portable seating. --sdh Continue reading
Posted Jul 4, 2015 at The Best American Poetry
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In her brilliant introduction to State of the Art (Pittsburgh, 2015) by David Lehman, Denise Duhamel writes: David takes his cue from Charles Baudelaire who advised, "Always be a poet, even in prose." I love that quote--it sounds so sexy yet true. Continue reading
Posted Jun 29, 2015 at The Best American Poetry
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I’m thrilled to announce that I have been named the first poet laureate of the New York City Greenmarkets, the largest and most diverse outdoor urban farmers market network in the country, with over 50 locations throughout the five boroughs. My job is to select poems of high literary merit that showcase foods and beverages that are seasonal and specific to our region. The poems will be printed along with recipes by noted cookbook authors and chefs and distributed free at all markets. One of the first poems I’ve picked is “Nettles” by Katha Pollitt from Antarctic Traveller (Knopf,1982). Katha has graciously allowed GrowNYC reprint it. To read her poem and the accompanying recipe, click on the link below: "Nettles" by Katha Pollitt Do you have a favorite food poem? Please enter the title and poet in the comment field. -- sdh Continue reading
Posted Jun 24, 2015 at The Best American Poetry
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This week we welcome back Sandra Simonds as our guest author. Sandra is the author of four books of poetry including the forthcoming Steal It Back from Saturnalia Books, The Sonnets (Bloof Books, 2014), Mother Was a Tragic Girl (Cleveland State Poetry Center, 2012) and Warsaw Bikini (Bloof Books, 2009). Her poems have appeared in the Best American Poetry 2015 and 2014, American Poetry Review, Boston Review, Poetry, Fence, The Chicago Review, The Awl, and other places. Follow her on twitter @sandmansimonds. Welcome back, Sandra. -- sdh Continue reading
Posted Jun 21, 2015 at The Best American Poetry
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For last week's "Next Line, Please" contest over the Amercan Scholar, David Lehman challenged readers to submit poems with secret messages embedded in them. He announced the winner on Tuesday, June 16. He also announced his summer hiatus, during which Angela Ball will run the show. In addition to being a talented poet and distinguished professor, much loved by her students at the University of Southern Mississippi, Angela is an imaginative editor, who has assembled special issues of Mississippi Review and Valley Voices. Here's what Lehman had to say about this week's winner: “Conscience versus Consequence” To say I am impressed with the ingenuity on display in this week’s entries is to risk understatement. I’ll just say that the decision to pick a winner gets more difficult each week—and that the association of poetry and secrecy remains a fruitful one. I opted for a tie this time between two acrostic poems that could not be less alike: Christine Rhein’s clandestine investigation of secrets and Millicent Caliban’s high-spirited tip of the cap to the nation that was born on the 4th of July. Continue reading over at the American Scholar. -- sdh Continue reading
Posted Jun 19, 2015 at The Best American Poetry
for Stacey “What kind of poems do you write?” she asked and I said occasional poems each day is an occasion take today The sun shone on my face shielded by a Panama hat made in Ecuador and the fate of a leaf in a hurricane was the day’s best simile for financial markets where the value of green keeps going up. The trees and the grass are vying in the green competition because “good is as visible as green” and the lawns are emerald like the eyes of my beloved when she saw the ring with two hearts and an emerald crescent in the jeweler’s case. The food tasted good and simple: beans and rice, chicken, coconut sorbet, white cherries, lemonade, and Matthew’s concoction with Cynar and jalapeno-infused gin. The ice cubes in the glass sounded like nothing but themselves. The sky was blue The shirt fit I washed the car. The newspaper reported that Cambridge is catching up to Oxford in real-estate prices and my thousand words on “To His Coy Mistress” were nicely illustrated as I sat and sipped in the sun. And then I read the new bio of Duke Ellington and Helen Forrest’s own story and tilted my hat as I walked celebrating the day the occasion for taking a walk enjoying the light and my new Panama hat. -- David Lehman The poem appears in Jujubes http://static1.squarespace.com/static/52508ca0e4b078f5507265fc/t/556d8f00e4b0d78223bf0089/1433243392043/JuJuBes+Magzter.pdf Continue reading
Posted Jun 15, 2015 at The Best American Poetry