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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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This week we welcome Abdul Ali as our guest author. Abdul is the author of Trouble Sleeping, winner of 2014 New Issues Poetry Prize. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Gargoyle, Plume, The Journal, Gathering of Tribes, New Contrast (South Africa), Poet Lore and the new anthology, Resisting Arrest, among other publications. He is the recipient of two Literature fellowships from the DC Commission of the Arts and Humanities and is a fellow of the Cave Canem Foundation. He teaches High School English at a private college preparatory school in Baltimore, MD. Find out more about Abdul Ali here. Welcome, Abdul. -- sdh Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at The Best American Poetry
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85 East 4th Street New York, NY David Lehman is the author of many collections of poems, including New and Selected Poems (Scribner, 2013), Yeshiva Boys (Scriber, 2011), When a Woman Loves a Man (Scribner, 2005), Jim and Dave Defeat the Masked Man (with James Cummins, Soft Skull Press, 2005), and The Evening Sun (2002). Among his books of non-fiction are Sinatra’s Century: One Hundred Notes on the Man and His World, A Fine Romance: Jewish Songwriters, American Songs (Shocken Books, 2009) and The Last Avant-Garde: The Making of the New York School of Poets (Doubleday, 1998), which was named a “Book to Remember 1999” by the New York Public Library. He edited The Oxford Book of American Poetry (Oxford University Press, 2006), and is the series editor of The Best American Poetry. He is on the core faculty of the graduate writing programs at the New School and New York University. He lives in New York City and Ithaca, NY. Elizabeth A. I. Powell is the author of The Republic of Self, a New Issue First Book Prize winner, selected by C.K. Williams. Her second book Willy Loman’s Reckless Daughter: Living Truthfully Under Imaginary Circumstances won the Robert Dana Prize in poetry, chosen by Maureen Seaton, and will be published by Anhinga Press in 2016. In 2013, she won a Pushcart Prize. Powell has also received a Vermont Council on the Arts grants and a Yaddo fellowship. Her work has appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, Barrow Street, Black Warrior Review, Ecotone, Harvard Review, Handsome, Hobart, Indiana Review, Missouri Review, Mississippi Review, Slope, Sugarhouse Review, Ploughshares, Post Road, and elsewhere. She is Editor of Green Mountains Review, and Associate Professor of Writing and Literature at Johnson State College. She also serves on the faculty of the low-residency MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Nebraska-Omaha and the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA in Writing and Publishing. Born in New York City, she has lived in Vermont since 1989 with her four children. David Lehman and KGB series co-host poet Matthew Yeager, 2011 Continue reading
Posted Dec 2, 2016 at The Best American Poetry
Zealous Young Xenophobes Write Verse. Useless Threats. Shouted Recriminations. Questionable Practices. Odious Nefarious Masquerading Liars. Kiss-ass Jurists Invent History. Generations Faulted. Expert Deniers Clearly Benefit. Again. -- 10/2001 Continue reading
Posted Nov 30, 2016 at The Best American Poetry
<<< Nazis burn books; philosophers write them. But Heidegger did both. -- Adam Kirsch >>> Excellent piece by Adam Kirsch (in Tablet) on Heidegger's "metaphysical" anti-Semitism and on attempts to reconcile what is valuable in Heidegger's writing with the undeniable fact that he was a Nazi in thought and deed. The piece is entitled "Heidegger Was Really a Real Nazi." It was posted on September, 21, 2016. -- DL Continue reading
Posted Nov 27, 2016 at The Best American Poetry
Stacey speaks the truth. -- DL
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Frank Sinatra In Israel in 1962 Host Dan Crane tells the story of two strangers in the night, a bag full of cash, and a ship full of weapons bound for the fledgling state of Israel, in this special episode dedicated to Frank Sinatra’s Jewish activism. Guests: Anthony Summers, David Lehman, Shalom Goldman, Paul Karolyi, and Tony Michaels. Sinatra planting a tree in Histadrut Forest of Jerusalem Continue reading
Posted Nov 24, 2016 at The Best American Poetry
First, a poem: Thanksgiving Later, after dinner, we examine your uncle’s photos of trees, flowers, waterfalls, birds until I just can’t stand it another second. I am not at one with nature. Never was. Some of the people can be fooled all of the time, even when you yawn right in their faces. Guests, or ghosts, have taken over the house, lounging in the living room, watching t.v. Ugly images of war and politics are all I see. Cancel the rest of the holidays, please, until this knot can be untied and our hearts released. -- Terence Winch Boxed in, Blue Humorous and Bleary Eyed (Bildungsroman Holiday by Jessica Piazza), (2010) How to Chop a Fuckton of Onions (more Bildungsroman Holiday, by Jessica Piazza)(2010) Bildungsroman Holiday (by Jessica Piazza, 2010) Thanksgiving, 1977, Albany NY (by Stacey Harwood, 2010) A Poem for Thanksgiving (by Martha Silano, 2009) Happy Thanksgiving (by Jennifer Michael Hecht, 2009) A Poem for Thanksgiving Week (by Laura Orem, 2009) Venerdi Nero (?) by Moira Egan (2009) Happy Thanksgiving (2009 - photograph) "We Gather Together" (2009 - video) A Thanksgiving Post (by Laura Orem, 2008) Thanksgiving and Black Friday (by Jennifer Michael Hecht, 2008) Your Brain on Turkey and Fixings (by Martha Silano, 2008) Live Poetry Blogging on Thanksgiving (by Sharon Mesmer, 2008) (Not so) Live Blogging, 10:54 pm [(by Sharon Mesmer, 2008) Live Thanksgiving Blogging 12:26 pm (by Sharon Mesmer, 2008) Happy Spanksgiving, from the flarflist [by Sharon Mesmer, 2008] Pre-Thanksgiving Emergency Narrowly Averted (by Martha Silano, 2008) This post first appeared on Thanksgiving 2011 Continue reading
Posted Nov 23, 2016 at The Best American Poetry
Hysterical Literature is a video art series by NYC-based photographer and filmmaker Clayton Cubitt. It explores feminism, mind/body dualism, distraction portraiture, and the contrast between culture and sexuality. Each video features a woman sitting at a table reading aloud from a book of her choosing. However, under the table, there is an unseen person equipped with a vibrator who is assigned to distract the reader as she reads.(These are really fun to watch.) --sdh From Marne: "For my appearance in Hysterical Literature I chose to read “Self Portrait in a Convex Mirror”, the long form poem by John Ashbery, which is not sexy per se, but is aesthetically “hot” to me in its many layers of perception on vision, art, self-portraiture, reflection, abstract poetry, time and space. It is a gorgeous text that requires considerable focus and a love of deconstructed, yet lyrical words.The poem refers to the 16th century painter Francesco Parmigianino’s painting "Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror," and is also the title of Ashbery’s Pulitzer Prize winning book of poems. John Ashbery has a long history of involvement with the arts; he was an arts writer and collaborated with many artists. Ashbery said "I have perhaps been more influenced by modern painting and music than by poetry." It seemed right as rain to me, to read a poem about a painting of an artist’s self-portrait, read by an artist who makes artist portraits and self-portraits in mirrors, while having an orgasm!" "Thank you John Ashbery and thank you Clayton Cubitt for an interesting addition of my life cycle, to the stars and back again…" Find more Hysterical Literature here. -- sdh Continue reading
Posted Nov 21, 2016 at The Best American Poetry
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On May 2, 2013, CNN proleptically ran a news segment in which Henry Kissinger advised Hillary Clinton on the life she may expect to lead after serving as secretary of state. It is an amusing piece not only because of the jokes he and she made but also because of a book published almost secretly in 1974 entitled President Kissinger, a satirical piece of political fiction that I found riveting atthe time. Somehow the poet Andrei Codrescu got hold of some advance copies of the book, in mass-market paperback form, and he gave me two of them. As I recall the plot, a constutional amendment makes it possible for Kissinger -- born in Germany and therefore ineligible to become president -- to overcome the rule that eliminating foreign-born citiens fom pursung the White House. Teddy Kennedy is Kissinger's vice-president, in charge of domestic affairs, and Kissinger ends up as President of the World, certified as such by the UN General Assembly. The writing of the book is quite ordinary and it depends for its effects entirely on a scenaro that seemed far-fetched but oddly in line with where the nation was in August 1974, the month Richard Nixon resigned as president. I pitched a piece on the book and even interviewed its publisher, Maurice Girodias, but New York magazine, which wanted me to write for them, nixed the idea because of Girodias's chequered career as a sensationalist. It is a pity because as a publishing stunt -- though by no neas as an artistic achievement and as a vision of political paranoia President Kissinger was effective in the way of Oliver Stones's brilliant Oliver Stones's JFK, though nowhere near the artisic success that Stone achieved in the film. -- DL <<< Washington (CNN) – Former Secy. of State Henry Kissinger gave a very public nod Wednesday night to a 2016 Hillary Clinton presidential campaign – saying that secretaries of state have a good track record of moving into the highest office in the land. “At least four secretaries of state became president,” the foreign-born Kissinger joked during remarks at the annual Atlantic Council awards dinner in Washington. “And that sort of started focusing my mind even though there was a constitutional provision that prevented me from doing it. I thought up all kinds of schemes to get around that.” Then, adopting a more serious tone, he continued. “I want to tell Hillary that when she misses the office, when she looks at the histories of secretaries of state, there might be hope for a fulfilling life afterwards.” Kissinger, himself a former secretary of state, was presenting Clinton with a Distinguished Leadership Award. >> for more, inckuding Clinton's response, click here Continue reading
Posted Nov 20, 2016 at The Best American Poetry
Updike is a seriously undervalued poet. Snotty reviewers perpetuating conventional wisdom have put him down, overlooking or downplaying his rare ability to write lyrically and well about such authentical blue-collar things as athletics and filling stations. An added pleasure, for me, in reading this poem is the suspicion that this represents Updike's road not taken. This is how he sees himself if he hadn't the blessings of the muse and the elegant persistence of the ideal courtier. -- DL
Pearl Avenue runs past the high-school lot, Bends with the trolley tracks, and stops, cut off Before it has a chance to go two blocks, At Colonel McComsky Plaza. Berth’s Garage Is on the corner facing west, and there, Most days, you'll find Flick Webb, who helps Berth out. Flick stands tall among the idiot pumps— Five on a side, the old bubble-head style, Their rubber elbows hanging loose and low. One’s nostrils are two S’s, and his eyes An E and O. And one is squat, without A head at all—more of a football type. Once Flick played for the high-school team, the Wizards. He was good: in fact, the best. In ’46 He bucketed three hundred ninety points, A county record still. The ball loved Flick. I saw him rack up thirty-eight or forty In one home game. His hands were like wild birds. He never learned a trade, he just sells gas, Checks oil, and changes flats. Once in a while, As a gag, he dribbles an inner tube, But most of us remember anyway. His hands are fine and nervous on the lug wrench. It makes no difference to the lug wrench, though. Off work, he hangs around Mae’s Luncheonette. Grease-gray and kind of coiled, he plays pinball, Smokes those thin cigars, nurses lemon phosphates. Flick seldom says a word to Mae, just nods Beyond her face toward bright applauding tiers Of Necco Wafers, Nibs, and Juju Beads. Continue reading
Posted Nov 18, 2016 at The Best American Poetry
Brilliant piece. "Hineni" ("here I am") is what Abraham said to God when he was commanded to take his son to Mount Moriah. At the Yeshiva, where I studied for eight years before moving on to Stuyvesant High School, the students said "hineni" when attendance was taken. Thank you, Lawrence.-- DL
Excellent piece. I love what you say about Merrill -- a great poet -- and about ballroom dancing in Rita's poem. It has often struck me (and Stacey) that two extraordinary poets, Lincoln Kirstein and Edwin Denby, were totally committed to ballet. Poems that perform a dance is one category. And on the other, of course, a dance that is a poem. -- DL
Hail to thee, Kathlen Heil! -- DL
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Now, perhaps more than ever, Brian Fanelli’s second full-length collection of poetry, Waiting for the Dead to Speak, is a much-needed celebration of hope and humanity in small-town America. This collection set mostly in rural Pennsylvania, is a coming of age, a young man growing up, growing a social conscience, learning what it means to lose, but always sifting through the rubble to find that last shred of hope. In the current political climate, where plain empathy is sorely lacking, Waiting for the Dead to Speak is a much-needed relief from hateful, one-sided views; Fanelli’s ability to direct our attention to the other side, as well as the possibility of change, whether we are battling a bully, advocating for political change, or listening for ghosts to speak, is infinitely human. Making the personal universal has always been Fanelli’s strength in his stream-lined narrative poems. Through his tight, precise language, rich images, and balanced narrative voice, we can’t help but experience with him the bully, or the Pennsylvania winter as a member of the working class. In “For Jimmy, Who Bruised My Ribs and Busted My Nose,” he understands and empathizes with his bully, just as much as his dying father and grieving mother in later poems. He gives us no choice but to follow suit: This poem is for the bully who never cried, who hid belt lashes from us, who ran from the sound of his father’s battered Ford tracking him down, the son whose hands tightened to fists like his father’s, who uncurled his fingers to study my blood, and then extended a hand to lift me up. In this ugly election year, full of polarized political parties and venomous speeches, Fanelli’s ability to make us recognize the humanity of the bully, whether physical or metaphorical, is a well-timed gift. Poems like “Adjunct Blues,” and “Listening to Springsteen on I-81,” remind us of Fanelli’s Scranton roots, and that he is tuned into the problems concerning our country today. These and other poems, like “Mid-Winter Scene,” give humanity to the working class that politics can’t seem to grasp, while simultaneously tapping into the power of nature to remind us of our human failings: Today, my car inches over dirt roads, as I slow down and eye fields of white and ponder the dead- my father, who laced up boots, slipped on black gloves, shoveled the sidewalk in front of our countryside home. A kid, I peered out the bedroom window, spotted the green of his Packers jacket, watched puffs of his breath rise as he hunched over. I helped when I felt guilty. Today, I think of the dead, grandfathers I never met, and how their backs must have bent like my father’s as they labored in mines, stopping only to wipe sweat and breathe. The voice in Waiting for the Dead to Speak reverberates long after the book is closed making it a collection aimed at beginnings rather than endings. Understanding, compassion, and hope glimmer in a gray... Continue reading
Posted Nov 7, 2016 at The Best American Poetry
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Sara Mearns in Alexei Ratmansky’s Fandango. At back: (L to R): Scott Borg, Elena Heiss, and Felix Fan of the FLUX Quartet. Photo: Erin Baiano “Wartime, here as abroad, made everyone more eager for the civilized and peaceful excitement of ballet. More people could also afford tickets. And in wartime the fact that no word was spoken on the stage was in itself a relief.” from Looking at Dance by Edwin Denby Last Thursday morning I went online and impulsively bought a single ticket to that evening’s Vail Dance Festival: ReMix NYC, at New York City Center. The theater was mostly sold out; the best available seat was in the nosebleed section but I took it anyway, hopeful that I would find a single seat closer to the stage during the first intermission. As curtain time approached, I began to regret my purchase. Wouldn’t it be nice to stay home? My husband would be out for the evening and I had laundry to do. I imagined myself folding and sorting while watching Law & Order reruns followed by the Kelly File. Perhaps I would phone the box office and tell them to donate my ticket. Then, at the last minute, I shook off my malaise and made a mad dash to the theater, settling into my seat just as Leto was giving birth to Apollo to the strains of Stravinsky’s Apollo Musagete. I’ve seen this Balanchine ballet many times over the years and each time it’s a revelation. Last night was no exception with the versatile New York City Ballet principal Robert Fairchild stepping into the lead for the injured Herman Cornejo. Damian Woetzel, a former premier danseur with the New York City Ballet and the director of the Vail program, wisely restored the opening birth scene that Balanchine had omitted from later productions because he was “bored with it.” There’s a narrative line to the ballet that follows Apollo’s growth—together with Calliope, Terpsichore, and Polyhymnia--from boyhood to maturity. Here’s how the brilliant dance critic Edwin Denby described Apollo in 1945: Apollo is about poetry, poetry in the sense of a brilliant, sensuous, daring, and powerful activity of our nature. It depicts the birth of Apollo in prologue; then how Apollo was given a lyre, and tried to make it sing; how three Muses appeared and showed each her special ability to delight; how he then tried out his surging strength; how he danced with Terpsichore, and how her loveliness and his strength responded in touching harmony; and last, how all four together were inspired and felt the full power of the imagination, and then, in calm and with assurance left for Parnassus, where they were to live. . . So Apollo can tell you how beautiful classic dancing is when it is correct and sincere; or how the power of poetry grows in our nature; or even that as man’s genius becomes more civilized, it grows more expressive, more ardent, more responsive, more beautiful. As I had hoped, a... Continue reading
Posted Nov 6, 2016 at The Best American Poetry
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moystrela; Berlin, Oct 2016 This week we welcome Kathleen Heil as our guest author. Kathleen is a writer, translator, and dancer based in Berlin. Recent poems appear or are forthcoming in The New Yorker, Hayden’s Ferry Review, and Burnside Review, recent translations in The Brooklyn Rail, Two Lines, and SAND, recent fiction in Five Points, NANO Fiction, and Green Mountains Review, and recent essays in MAKE, the Collagist, and MAP - media / archive / performance. Heil has performed in New York, New Orleans, Berlin, and Madrid, and her current artistic research investigates the space(s) between writing and dance. More at kathleenheil.net. Martin Stannard is an English poet and critic. His most recent collection of poetry is Poems for the Young at Heart (Leafe Press, UK, 2016). He has been living and teaching at a university in China since 2005. Martin will be posting about his selections for Decals of Desire, a new on-line literary journal for which he is poetry editor. Welcome, Kathleen and Martin. -- sdh Continue reading
Posted Nov 6, 2016 at The Best American Poetry
Thoughts on Being a Cubs Fan Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow In The Great Gatsby, when Jordan Baker asks if she is missed in Chicago, Nick Carraway says, “The whole town is desolate. All the cars have the left rear tire painted black….” Well, today the whole town is ecstatic, and the tires are all blue. People are weeping for joy at the drop of a hat, breaking into tears in public places and on public airwaves recalling granddads and first games and lost bleacher friends and decades of memories. The sports talk hosts have just opened the spigots and let the catharses flow. Actually, that was yesterday. Today the whole town is relieved. Our long ordeal is over and our shame is gone. Yes, shame. I’m not sure we knew we ever had it, but we sure know we don’t have it anymore. Now the question is, what are we going to do without it? That’s because with the shame came all the character building stuff: self-deprecation, an ability to laugh at ourselves, an inability to take ourselves too seriously, both pleasure and joy of a wry, ironic sort, and the clear, definite knowledge that “it’s only baseball.” After all, with struggle and hardship come wisdom and humility, and without struggle and hardship…well, look at Donald Trump. Once when I was living in Mexico City in 1974 watching the washed-out Cub Adolfo Phillips play center field for the Mexico City Tigres, I saw a pudgy American tourist in a Cincinnati Reds ball cap approach two well-dressed Mexican teenagers who were leafing through a Sports Illustrated article on Cincinnati’s juggernaut Big Red Machine in the newsstand of the Hotel Camino Real. “Hey,” the tourist said pointing at his hat, “I’m from Cincinnati! That’s my team!” He beamed at them as if they would be impressed. They weren’t. His wide-eyed gung-hoism embarrassed me. Maybe for the first time I was proud to be a Cubs fan. Now I am again, but in a new and different and not entirely comfortable way. I mean, we’re winners! Little ol’ us! The Little Blue Machine! The woeful, pathetic Cubbies! The team that has tried to win public sympathy as loveable losers as in, “well, at least we play day baseball (no longer so true), and the average guy can still afford a seat (no longer true at all) and we have a cute ball park.” Cute! Great arenas where epic battles are waged cannot be cute. So what are we left with? There is the relief, yes, and that morning-after feeling that Peggy Lee sings about in “Is That All There Is?” And there is a hole in our identity, one that used to be filled with the knowledge that unlike the soft, spoiled cities, we didn’t need winning or success to feel whole, that we didn’t need sunshine and palm trees to go outside, that we didn’t need warmth to put our tops down on the first day of spring, that we had survived... Continue reading
Posted Nov 5, 2016 at The Best American Poetry
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<<< David Lehman, poet and columnist for our website, is writing a book about his cancer diagnosis and recovery. “In a way, the book has the logic of a poem,” he says. “But the illness and the treatments are really a springboard for memory, dream, fantasy, invention—all the ways we try to escape—and for taking stock of your life and the ultimate questions that face you when you take seriously the fact that you may die sooner than you thought.” The following passage is from Lehman’s manuscript in progress. >>> Click here to read the excerpt as posted on the website of The American Scholar, home of and host of "Next Line, Please" among many other notable weekly features. Continue reading
Posted Nov 4, 2016 at The Best American Poetry
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No sooner was it announced last month that Bob Dylan had won the Nobel Prize in Literature than the fighting began. Enthusiasts cited the way Mr. Dylan has entered and modified the culture. How his phrases linger in the air. The times they are a-changin’. There are no truths outside the Gates of Eden. You don’t need to be a weatherman to know which way the wind blows. He not busy being born is busy dying. But the cries of dismay were predictable if only because the poetry community is marked by bile and resentment. Any American poet—even our grand old master Richard Wilbur, now 95—would get his share of Bronx cheers if he were to win the Nobel. It was said of Mr. Dylan that he didn’t need the prize, that he is yet another old white guy, that he is arrogant, that he composes songs not poems. Purists would say that what he writes are lyrics, which depend on their musical setting for coherence and are inextricably bound up with their performance. I would counter that the best of Mr. Dylan’s songs work on the page, not only because of their originality but equally because they constitute the autobiography of a personality that is rebellious, ornery, intense and remarkably attuned to our rapidly shifting zeitgeist. Along comes “Bob Dylan: The Lyrics 1961-2012” to help us to adjudicate. Released today in unquestionably the most fortuitous publication timing in memory, the book contains all of Mr. Dylan’s songs, organized album by album from his eponymous 1962 debut to his most recent efforts, “Together Through Life” (2009) and “Tempest” (2012). The transcendent period was the stretch between 1964 and 1967—the period of “Like a Rolling Stone,” “Desolation Row,” “Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands,” “Visions of Johanna,” “Just Like a Woman” and “All Along the Watchtower.” The collected lyrics make the primary case for Mr. Dylan’s achievement. But “Chronicles” (2004), the first volume of Mr. Dylan’s projected three-volume memoirs, offers a valuable window into the writer’s brain. . “Truth was the last thing on my mind, and even if there was such a thing, I didn’t want it in my house,” he wrote of trying to compose songs. “Oedipus went looking for the truth and when he found it, it ruined him. It was a cruel horror of a joke. So much for the truth. I was gonna talk out of both sides of my mouth and what you heard depended on which side you were standing. If I ever did stumble on any truth, I was gonna sit on it and keep it down.” Not for nothing did he discard his birth name (Zimmerman) in favor of the first name of the wild Welsh poet Dylan Thomas. A natural surrealist, Mr. Dylan is a put-on artist, a joker, enigmatic, elusive and full of belligerence. “Maggie’s Farm” (1965), for instance, elevates “I quit” into poetry: He “hands you a nick­el, / He hands you a dime, / He asks you with a... Continue reading
Posted Nov 1, 2016 at The Best American Poetry
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If you're like me, you get tired of baseball cliches recited solemnly by TV announcers who ignore the action on the field to focus on a dumb-ass interview with a guy in the dugout. Prior to the fifth game of the World Series, the announcer quotes a statistic. "The team that wins game five goes on to win the World Series fifty nine per cent of the time," he intones. Yes, and you can never have enough pitching. Clayton Kershaw (pictured left) is the "best pitcher on the planet," but he has struggled in October unlike Giants' ace Madison Bumgarner. The team with a four run lead going into the ninth inning has won forty six out of forty eight times. The smart hitter doesn't "try to do too much." The smart pitcher "expands" the strike zone. And everybody knows that the worst way to slide into a base is head first, which is why nearly all baserunners do it. As one who has successfully calculated the odds of a stock's rising 10% or more if its trailing p/e ratio is below the industry average and if the balance sheet shows strong cash flow and an unbroken record of paying dividends, I have given much thought to the possibility of predicting the outcome of a series based on any one of the games. There are, after all, precedents to consider. In 1965, the team that lost the first two games of the World Series went on to recover and win it all. In 1966, the same squad in the same predicament got swept. There are instances of teams coming back from the three games to one deficit that the Cubs faced going into Sunday night's action. Again it happened in back-to-back years. In 1957 the Milwaukee Braves of Aaron, Mathews, Adcock, Spahn, and Burdette rallied to beat the Yankees of Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford, who promptly turned the tables in 1958. As for losing the first two games, the Dodgers were in that hole in 1955, yet Johnny Podres shut out the Bronx Bombers in game seven, Gil Hodges drove in a pair of runs, and Brooklyn had its first and only World Championship flag. A year later the scenario was neatly flipped when, in game seven, the Yanks' Yogi Berra hit two home runs and Don Newcombe's greatest season ended in a career-threatening crisis of the nerves. There is a structural uncertainty principle at work in post-season play, and if there is anything a gambler dislikes it's uncertainty. Professional gamblers resemble Wall Street veterans in precisely this way. In search of an algorithm that eliminates some of the known unknowns and minimizes the unknown unknowns without resorting to guesswork, I have accumulated data weighing game six and game seven results in eight contests played since 1980: those of 1981, 1982, 1985, 1986, 1991, 1996, 2001, and 2002. Tomorrow night the Chicago Cubs play the Cleveland Indians in the latter's ballpark. The odds of either team winning the game... Continue reading
Posted Oct 31, 2016 at The Best American Poetry
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This week we welcome back Kristina Marie Darling as our guest author. Kristina is the author of over twenty books of poetry, most recently DARK HORSE (C&R Press, 2017). Her awards include three residencies at Yaddo, where she has held the Martha Walsh Pulver Residency for a Poet, as well as a Hawthornden Castle Fellowship and multiple residencies at the American Academy in Rome. She is the recipient of grants from the Whiting Foundation and Harvard University’s KIttredge Fund. Her poems appear in New American Writing, The Mid-American Review, Poetry International, Passages North, Nimrod, and many other magazines. She has published essays in Agni, The Gettysburg Review, The Los Angeles Review of Books, The Iowa Review, The Literary Review, and elsewhere. She is Editor-in-Chief of Tupelo Quarterly and Grants Specialist at Black Ocean. Welcome back, Kristina. -- sdh Continue reading
Posted Oct 30, 2016 at The Best American Poetry
When Rocky Colavito was hitting forty-two home runs a year, a dark-eyed, rifle-armed right fielder for the Cleveland Indians, my monthly sports magazine said he made the bobby-soxers swoon. I wasn’t sure what that meant. I was nine or ten. And when Rocky Colavito was traded to the Detroit Tigers, even up, for the American League batting champion, a crew-cut mean-eyed shortstop with a cheekful of chaw, the magazine said the Cleveland bobby soxers were in mourning. Rocky hailed from the tough Crotona Park section of the Bronx, they said. One night he leaped the fence at Yankee Stadium, bat in hand, because he saw his dad fighting with some bum in the stands. The Rock always looked like he needed a shave. Charming but dangerous. He was the clean-up batter. The slugger. Struck out a lot, too. And when it was over, after he finished up back home in the Bronx, we never heard another word about him. And where are those bobby-sox grannies who swooned for Rocky Colavito and mourned for him, too? -- Jamie Katz Continue reading
Posted Oct 29, 2016 at The Best American Poetry