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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
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 2 days ago 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 3 days ago 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 5 days ago 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" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Jp3mdo6Q8g Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at The Best American Poetry
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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 6 days ago 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
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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 tattoosday@gmail.com. -- sdl Continue reading
Posted Mar 10, 2017 at The Best American Poetry
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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
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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
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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
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Ron Honing and Christine Kanownik will read from their poems at DIA on Tuesday, March 14, 2017, at 6:30 PM. More information here. Continue reading
Posted Mar 4, 2017 at The Best American Poetry
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“Every man carries with him through life a mirror, as unique and impossible to get rid of as his shadow. “A parlor game for a wet afternoon — imagining the mirrors of one's friends. A has a huge pier glass, gilded and baroque, B a discreet little pocket mirror in a pigskin case with his initials stamped on the back; whenever on looks at C, he is in the act of throwing his mirror away but, if one looks in his pocket or up his sleeve, one always finds another, like an extra ace. “Most, perhaps all, our mirrors are inaccurate and uncomplimentary, though to varying degrees and in various ways. Some magnify, some diminish, others, whatever their owner does, will only return lugubrious, comic, derisive, or terrifying images. “But the properties of our own particular mirror are not so important as we sometimes like to think. We shall be judged, not by the kind of mirror found on us, but by the use we have made of it, by our riposte to our reflection.” [In “Lecture Notes,” in Commonweal, 6 November 1942, Auden begins this sequence of reflections with the sentence: “Every child, as he wakes into life, finds a mirror underneath his pillow.”] Auden also has a parlor game called "Purgatory Mates." More on that soon. Meanwhile, here is one of WHA's observations: << A vain woman realizes that vanity is a sin, and in order not to succumb to temptation, has all the mirrors removed from her house. Consequently, in a short while she cannot remember what she is like. She remembers that vanity is a sin, but she forgets that she is vain. >> So eat, drink, and make merry for tomorrow is time enough for sorrow. Today the fragrance of wild strawberry is in the air. Not every epicurean can become David Ben-Gurion." -- Yoel Halevi (1961) Continue reading
Posted Mar 3, 2017 at The Best American Poetry
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J.R.Ackerley and Tulip Dogs read the world through their noses and write their history in urine. Urine is another and highly complex source of social information; it is a language, a code, by means of which they not only express their feelings and emotions but communicate with and appraise each other. Tulip is particularly instructive in this matter when she is in season, for on these occasions she has numerous callers who leave the marks of their attention round the front door. On her way in and out she reads, with her long black nose, these superimposed stains, and the care with which she studies them is so meticulous that she gives the impression of actually identifying her acquaintances and friends. She has two kinds of urination, Necessity and Social. Different stances are usually, though not invariably, adopted for each. In necessity she squats squarely and abruptly, right down on her shins, her hind legs forming a kind of dam against the stream that gushes out from behind; her tail curves up like a scimitar; her expression is complacent. For social urination, which is mostly preceded by the act of smelling, she seldom squats, but balances herslef on one hind leg, the other being withdrawn or cocked up in the air. The reasons for this seems obvious; she is watering some special thing and wishes to avoid touching it. It may also be that in this attitude she can more accurately bestow her drops. Often they are merely drops, a single token drop will do, for the social flow is less copious. The expression on her face is business-like, as though she were signing a check. -- from My Dog Tulip by J. R. Ackerley -- sdl Continue reading
Posted Mar 3, 2017 at The Best American Poetry
<<< Word golf has always been a reliable way to produce inspiration. This alternative to rhyme—in which the end-words spell out a progression from, say, “kiss” to “love,” moving one letter at a time—combines the pleasures of game-playing with the value of a constrictive form. I am not surprised that the game generated so much creative energy this week. This came in from MQ: MQ’s journey from “fuck” to “love” the last line flips the terms of line one: The difference between love and fuck Depends the most on fate and luck; One’s the door, and one the lock. You may meet many fit to lick (Find the clit, avoid the lice), But fewer those with whom to live The distance between fuck and love For other examples of notable entries, click here. Last week Diana Ferraro wondered whether it would be a “heresy” to admit that she preferred some of “our” couplets to the one Wordsworth composed for “My Hearts Leaps Up.” Although it was not her intent, I’d like to use “Heresy” as our prompt for next week. I believe that many notes filed under that heading have a head start toward tapping the imagination. So … see what happens when you write a brief poem using “Heresy” as your title. If you would like to make things a bit more complicated, why not appropriate the style of either Emily Dickinson or Wallace Stevens, two notable heretics (though this option is strictly optional)? You submit your entries in the comments field. We need to have closer deadlines henceforth, so please send in your entries by midnight on Saturday, March 4th. As always, my appreciation to all for sharing the inspiration.. . . Continue reading
Posted Mar 2, 2017 at The Best American Poetry
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<<< I sip from the cup that Keats says is full of the warm south, mirth, and sun, “With beaded bubbles winking at the brim / And purple-stained mouth,” and I recommend Byron’s remedy for a hangover: “hock and soda water. For every poet a fruit or a sweet, plums for Williams, bananas and pineapples for Stevens; the shape of a pear (Stevens), the burst of “Joy’s grape” (Keats), and the word as delicious as the melon sweet as fresh water to the parched lips of the sailor on the abandoned raft: honeydew. >>> from "Love's Banquet" by David Lehman Read more at The Inquisitve Eater Continue reading
Posted Feb 27, 2017 at The Best American Poetry
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Katha Pollitt & David Lehman KGB Bar 85 East 4th Street (near the NW corner of 4th Street and 2nd Avenue). 7:30 PM. Doors open at 7 PM FREE Continue reading
Posted Feb 27, 2017 at The Best American Poetry
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Monday, March 6, 2017 KGB Bar, 85 East 4th Street (near the NW corner of 4th Street and 2nd Avenue). 7:30 PM. Doors open at 7 PM . Continue reading
Posted Feb 22, 2017 at The Best American Poetry
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"Let the bad remain bad, otherwise it will grow worse." Continue reading
Posted Feb 21, 2017 at The Best American Poetry
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Phone rage: for those times when someone who is texting bumps into you and you trip so you grab their phone and drop it in the sewer. Continue reading
Posted Feb 20, 2017 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 six books of poetry: Orlando, (Wave Books, forthcoming in 2018), Further Problems with Pleasure, winner of the 2015 Akron Poetry Prize and forthcoming from the University of Akron Press, Steal It Back (Saturnalia Books, 2015), The Sonnets (Bloof Books, 2014), Mother Was a Tragic Girl (Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 2012), and Warsaw Bikini (Bloof Books, 2009). Her poems have been included in the Best American Poetry 2015 and 2014 and have appeared in many literary journals, including Poetry, the American Poetry Review, the Chicago Review, Granta, Boston Review, Ploughshares, Fence, Court Green, and Lana Turner. In 2013, she won a Readers’ Choice Award for her sonnet “Red Wand,” which was published on Poets.org, the Academy of American Poets website. She lives in Tallahassee, Florida and is an assistant professor of English and Humanities at Thomas University in Thomasville, Georgia. Welcome back, Sandra. -- sdh Continue reading
Posted Feb 19, 2017 at The Best American Poetry
Thank you, Michael. Well-done. DL