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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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Frank O'Hara exits the Museum of Modern Art in NYC Why bring New York School poetry to the University of Southern Mississippi? Because, in a sense, it’s already here. Named for the New York School of painters, The New York School of Poets includes Frank O’Hara, John Ashbery, Kenneth Koch, and James Schuyler. These four poets came to prominence in the Fifties and Sixties; of the four, John Ashbery is still living and prolific. Some years ago, while reading these poets, I began to see glints and shadows of their work in poems without ties to the city, by poets... Continue reading
Posted 6 hours ago at The Best American Poetry
The Incredible Sestina Anthology (Sestina) Reader, you hate sestinas? Read these. Take a chance: show up, see the show. Gentle reader, give them a chance, redress your hatreds: read no more sestinas if these sestinas fail to show how rewarding a read they are. Reluctant reader, although you hate them, is there a slim chance, a fat chance, all sestinas are not hateful? May we show you, skeptical reader, lines worth reading and rereading? Not a chance? Biased readers disparage the sestina, delight to show how hatefully its hateful framework shows through whenever we read one. Chances are, sestinas irritate... Continue reading
Posted 7 hours ago at The Best American Poetry
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Archie Rand, “July” from “The Months” series by Archie Rand 2011. Acrylic, enamel, chalk, charcoal, appliqué on fabric, 26 x 70” Rhombus Space is pleased to present Thought Bubbles, an exhibition featuring Archie Rand’s complete series “The Months.” Curated by Katerina Lanfranco. 183 Lorraine Street 3rd floor, #33 Red Hook, Brooklyn, N.Y. 11231 Exhibition Dates: March 28 – April 27, 2014. Rhombus Spaceis pleased to present Thought Bubbles, an exhibition featuring Archie Rand’s complete series “The Months.” Curated by Katerina Lanfranco. 183 Lorraine Street 3rd floor, #33 Red Hook, Brooklyn, N.Y. 11231 Exhibition Dates: March 28 – April 27, 2014. Continue reading
Posted 12 hours ago at The Best American Poetry
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Since 1978, when Mark Strand was denied a Pulitzer Prize in poetry for his book The Monument on the grounds that the poems were not in verse, prose poetry has fought a battle—which it has largely won—for legitimacy in the eyes and heart of the reading public. It has won in no small part because prose poetry blurs the boundaries between genres. On April 8 at The New School poetry forum, Alan Zeigler read to us from his new anthology, Short: An International Anthology of five Centuries of Short-Short Stories, Prose Poems, Brief Essays, and Other Short Prose Forms, the... Continue reading
Posted 13 hours ago at The Best American Poetry
Regrets OMG What’ve I done? Agreed to write 5 sestinas on the Incredible Sestina Anthology?Time’s almost up. I really fucked up big, OMG, this time. Have I ever done anything so incredibly stupid? Write five? What’ll I write? Am I up to this incredible task? OMG Will they be done on time? How find time to write? But it’s a done deal. I’m in up to my ears, OMG. What incredible honor, what incredible luck to be chosen this time OMG, Daniel Nester, to write up what you’ve done. Dan, you’ve done it! What an incredible anthology. Stand up, take... Continue reading
Posted yesterday at The Best American Poetry
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Fortunately for the family, my uncles and brothers had liquidated most of their holdings in the firm by the time of its collapse in September 2008. Nevertheless, whether out of nostalgia or pure forgetfulness, or perhaps just in order to keep getting annual reports and the like, a few of us kept some odd lots and attended shareholder meetings once in a while. And I maintained friendships with old friends, including the source of some scuttlebutt that I am now legally entitled to share. One villain in the tale is the little known Phillip Rubella, who headed the firm's missing... Continue reading
Posted yesterday at The Best American Poetry
Dear David How gracious you are to ask me to write five blogs about the sestinas in Dan’s book his incredible book. As you know, sestinas are what I write. I’ve never written a blog. I’m filled with terror: five! Will five do justice to his book? What would I say in a blog? You honor me, but I’d rather write sestinas. I’ve practiced sestinas two score years and five. I’d gladly write a book for you, but a blog? Blogs are not my thing. Sestinas are. I could send you five from my unpublished book or happily write new... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at The Best American Poetry
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This week we welcome Nick Courtright as our guest author. Nick is the author of Let There Be Light (Gold Wake, 2014), called "a continual surprise and a revelation" by Naomi Shihab Nye, and Punchline (Gold Wake), a 2012 National Poetry Series finalist. His work has appeared in The Southern Review, AGNI, Boston Review, and Kenyon Review Online, among numerous others, and a chapbook, Elegy for the Builder’s Wife, is available from Blue Hour Press. He lives with his wife, Michelle, and sons, William and Samuel, in Austin, Texas, where he teaches at Concordia University. Feel free to find him... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at The Best American Poetry
David Lehman doesn’t think poetry should be lazy. His collections Evening Sun and Daily Mirror are a testament to this: both were the children of a five-year commitment to writing a poem a day. During an evening reading on April 1, 2014, for the students, faculty, and guests of Keystone College, in La Plume, PA, Lehman imparted to the audience his almost mathematically precise treatment of language and verse, a starkly dry sense of humor, and a great deal of wisdom on writing as a craft. Early in the evening, Lehman spoke of his experience writing for Newsweek, explaining that... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at The Best American Poetry
We're pleased to learn that Ron Padgett's Collected Poems (Coffee House Press) has won the prestigious L.A. Times Book Prize in Poetry. Here's an excerpt from David Lehman's recent Publishers Weekly review of Padgett's prize winning collection: Long a mainstay of the New York School’s second generation, Ron Padgett—the self-styled “Tulsa Kid,” as the title of one of his books has it—left Oklahoma to attend Columbia University and become a big city poet. He studied with Kenneth Koch, met Frank O’Hara, made the pilgrimage to Paris, read and translated Reverdy, Apollinaire, Cendrars. From the start his poems had a joyous... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at The Best American Poetry
Josephine Miles, a vastly underrated Berkeley-based poet, who was A. R. Ammons's teacher, is the subject of an excellent post on Tom Clark's blog today, always worth checking out! Here's her poem "Reason." And if you go to Tom 's blog and scrol down a bit, you will find some choice works by Joseph Ceravolo. -- DL Said, Pull her up a bit will you, Mac, I want to unload there. Said, Pull her up my rear end, first come first served. Said, give her the gun, Bud, he needs a taste of his own bumper. Then the usher came... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at The Best American Poetry
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NA: You are a senior content editor at F + W Media. Could you talk a little bit about your editing position? What it entails? RB: My main job is handling the Writer’s Digest Market Books. I specifically edit Writer’s Market, Writer’s Market Deluxe Edition, Poet’s Market, and Guide to Self-Publishing. In addition, I’m the resident expert on managing the database for all the Market Books, including Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market, Guide to Literary Agents , Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market, Photographer’s Market, Artist’s & Graphic Designer’s Market, and any other Market Book-related projects. I’m the online editor... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at The Best American Poetry
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(Ed note: This week Edward Hirsch is presenting terms from his new book, A Poet’s Glossary, a compendium of forms, devices, groups, movements, isms, aesthetics, folklore, rhetorical terms. Find yesterday's post here. sdh) I’d like to close my week with the notion of sincerity and the idea of the accursed poet. sincerity Sincerity, which Lionel Trilling defines as “a congruence between avowal and actual feeling,” was a negligible term in criticism until the second half of the eighteenth century when it came into vogue with Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Confessions, an autobiography of unprecedented frankness completed in 1769, and Goethe’s The Sorrows... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at The Best American Poetry
My socks didn’t match. That was my first mortifying thought as I shucked my shoes in John Ashbery’s foyer. They were almost the same color, but not quite, and this was not how I’d hoped to greet a living legend. The mood during Ashlab’s first pilgrimage from Manhattan to Hudson, N.Y., had been exuberant. Like kids on a field trip, we were visiting Mr. Ashbery’s house to see how the poems are made. Yet as our van pulled up to the Victorian mansion, a hush rushed through the group. We stepped inside, slid off our shoes and nearly tip-toed onto... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at The Best American Poetry
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(Ed note: This week Edward Hirsch is presenting terms from his new book, A Poet’s Glossary, a compendium of forms, devices, groups, movements, isms, aesthetics, folklore, rhetorical terms. Find yesterday's post here. sdh) Metaphors and similes, which are sometimes confused with each other, are two different modes of poetic thinking. metaphor A figure of speech in which one thing is described in terms of another—as when Whitman characterizes the grass as "the beautiful uncut hair of graves." The term metaphor derives from the Greek metaphora, which means "carrying from one place to another," and a metaphor transfers the connotations of... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at The Best American Poetry
Poem in the Manner 
 of Dorothy Parker Dorothy Parker who wrote witty stories, did not foresee that spectacles would be- come fashion accessories. "Men seldom make passes At girls who wear glasses." And today, in Washington Square Park I thought of her, Miss Parker, and what she might say assessing the spectacles of our day: "Even the nicest lasses Have tattoos on their asses." --David Lehman from the Village Voice poetry issue. Click here to see and hear this as well as poems by Billy Collins, Jonathan Galassi, Edward Hirsch, Marie Howe, Donna Masini, Joshua Mehigan, Victoria Redel and... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at The Best American Poetry
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(Ed note: This week Edward Hirsch is presenting terms from his new book, A Poet’s Glossary, a compendium of forms, devices, groups, movements, isms, aesthetics, folklore, rhetorical terms. Find his previous post here. sdh) Here are two forms from the poetry of everyday life: the humble proverb and the overlooked riddle. proverb A terse didactic statement that embodies a general truth, the proverb is short and pithy, akin to the aphorism and the maxim, and draws attention to itself as a formal artistic entity. Folk and traditional proverbs are well-known expressions, usually the length of a simple sentence, that function... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at The Best American Poetry
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Too much journalism gets written for pure consumption -- on the toilet, or seat-belted on a plane, or in the waiting room -- and then flushed down or thrown away. Yet journalism, if only because of medical and dental waiting rooms, has a half-life far beyond the misleading date on the magazine cover. So on the eighth of April 2014 I read The New Yorker of October 21, 2013 and I see that the biography of Norman Mailer is the challenge facing the house critic. This is an enjoyable assignment if only because of the chance to blend narrative with... Continue reading
Posted Apr 8, 2014 at The Best American Poetry
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(Ed note: This week Edward Hirsch is presenting terms from his new book, A Poet’s Glossary, a compendium of forms, devices, groups, movements, isms, aesthetics, folklore, rhetorical terms. Find his previous post here. sdh) Today I’d like to juxtapose the ideas of pure and impure poetry. In 1925, the Abbé Henri Bremond delivered a lecture entitled “Pure Poetry” (or in French Poésie Pure), which he followed up the next year with Prayer and Poetry. Two years later, Paul Valéry clarified the idea that poetry aims “to give the impression of a complete system of reciprocal relations between our ideas and... Continue reading
Posted Apr 8, 2014 at The Best American Poetry
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We're thrilled to once again be working with the Library Hotel and Tweetspeak on promoting its annual poetry month Haiku Contest! The Library Hotel is a NYC boutique hotel in a great location with a genuine commitment to books, and reading, writers and writing. See the details below and visit The Library Hotel to find out why you should put together your very best seventeen syllables to win this contest. Tweet your Haiku to @LibraryHotel and be sure to include #PoetryMonth and #haiku to be considered. For complete rules, go here. Continue reading
Posted Apr 7, 2014 at The Best American Poetry
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"Hillary Clinton is Gladys Knight, and all the rest of them are the pips." -- Robert Zimmerman (alias Bob Dylan). See Peter Nicholas, "Clinton Freezes Rest of '16 Field" in the Wall Street Journal, April 7, 2014, front page (above the fold). On Billie Holiday's birthday no less!That's Gladys on the left. Where are the pips? Can't find 'em, but . . .that's the point. -- DL Continue reading
Posted Apr 7, 2014 at The Best American Poetry
In honor of Susan Sontag, who introduced the logic of camp (something so bad that it's good) into the cultural discourse, may I propose a bad line contest? It is remarkable how many bad lines one encounters. Usually I let myself be guided by Frank O'Hara's advice: ignore it, and let it slip into oblivion, rather than call attention to a bad poem. But sometimes a bad line is bad in a particularly exemplary way, and if that is the case the author of the bad line should not feel insulted, should feel even honored, to have produced sonething worthy... Continue reading
Posted Apr 7, 2014 at The Best American Poetry
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This week I will be presenting terms from my new book, A Poet’s Glossary, a compendium of forms, devices, groups, movements, isms, aesthetics, folklore, rhetorical terms. It is a repertoire of poetic secrets, a vocabulary, some of it ancient, which proposes a greater pleasure in the text, deeper levels of enchantment. baroque The word baroque probably derives from the Portuguese barroco, a jeweler’s term for a rough and irregular pearl, which was imported from Goa to Portugal in the sixteenth century. In the eighteenth century, the French started using the word as an adjective meaning “bizarre” or “odd.” The term... Continue reading
Posted Apr 7, 2014 at The Best American Poetry
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photo (c) Julie Dermansky This week we welcome Edward Hirsch as our guest author. Edward, a MacArthur Fellow, is the author of eight poetry books, including The Living Fire: New and Selected Poems (Knopf, 2010), and five prose books, among them How to Read a Poem and Fall in Love with Poetry (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1999), a national bestseller, and A Poet’s Glossary (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014). Welcome, Ed. In other news . . . Tuesday, April 8, 6:30 PM: Alan Zeigler reads from and discusses Short: An International Anthology of 500 Years of Short-Short Stories, Prose Poems, Brief Essays,... Continue reading
Posted Apr 6, 2014 at The Best American Poetry