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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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The Auditorium at 66 West 12th Street, Alvin Johnson/J.M. Kaplan Hall New York, NY 10011 Series editor and School of Writing professor David Lehman joins contributors to The Best American Poetry 2014 to launch the 27th edition of this acclaimed annual anthology. Readers will include Lucie Brock-Broido, Mark Doty, Joel Dias-Porter, Sean Thomas Dougherty, Cornelius Eady, Ross Gay, Le Hinton, Major Jackson, Yusef Komunyakaa, Hailey Leithauser, Frannie Lindsay, Cate Marvin, Shara McCallum, Valzhyna Mort, Eileen Myles, D. Nurkse, Sharon Olds, Greg Pardlo, Roger Reeves, Patrick Rosal, Jon Sands, Jane Springer, Afaa Michael Weaver, and Rachel Zucker. Sponsored by the School... Continue reading
Posted yesterday at The Best American Poetry
08 / 22 / 08 Today in 1862 Claude Debussy was born. I remember where I was and what I was doing one hundred years and two months later: elementary algebra, trombone practice, Julius Caesar on the record player with Brando as Antony, simple buttonhook patterns in football, the French subjunctive, and the use of "quarantine" rather than "blockade" during the Cuban Missile Crisis. It was considered the less belligerent word. Much was made of it in 1962, centenary of Debussy’s birth. And if today I play his Rhapsody for Saxophone and Orchestra for the ten minutes it requires of... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at The Best American Poetry
The world is too much with us; late and soon, Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers; Little we see in Nature that is ours; We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon! This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon, The winds that will be howling at all hours, And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers, For this, for everything, we are out of tune; It moves us not. --Great God! I'd rather be A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn; So might I, standing on this pleasant lea, Have glimpses that would make me less... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at The Best American Poetry
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Last week the American Scholar continued its Next Line, Please contest with an invitation to readers to submit their best haiku. Here's what David Lehman has to say about this week's winning haiku and the rules for next week's tanka contest. Remember, if you want to enter, please do so at the American Scholar's page: Wow. I love writing haiku and am not surprised that others find the form appealing. Still, I didn’t expect to see 236 entries, some of them containing as many as five haiku, not to mention others that came in over the transom. And the quality... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at The Best American Poetry
Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990) wrote poems -- good ones, too -- as you'll learn if you pick up The Leonard Bernstein Letters, edited by Nigel Simeone (Yale University Press). And today is Lenny's birthday -- and STACEY'S! She had the good sense to pick the 18th of August to come into this world. Sinatra sent Lenny birthday congratulations when he turned 70. The letter began: "Dear Genius." The genius arrived ninety-six years ago on this day, and we can do worse than to honor him with a poem he wrote to and for Stephen Sondheim. Wunderkind Steve wrote the lyrics for... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at The Best American Poetry
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Even though it's high summer, you may be thinking about a winter escape to Florida. You should consider staying at the Betsy, in South Beach, where David and I have stayed and where, in the interest of preserving the legacy of poet Hyam Plutzik, the people behind the scenes have established the Writers Room to support writers. Since its official opening in April 2012, the Writer’s Room has hosted over one hundred writers—poets, novelists, journalists, playwrights among them— during which these writers have presented readings of their work, published or in-progress. The Betsy Hotel makes the room available to visiting... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at The Best American Poetry
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At 3:15 in the morning, in London, England, one hundred and fifteen years ago today (August 13), the great film director Alfred Hitchcock was born, a solid Leo with a macabre imagination (moon in Scorpio). When August 13 falls on a Friday, as in 1993 and 1999, you may expect bats to fly in through the slightest opening in the bathroom window, and the phone will ring at 11 PM and it will be someone you have never met, who asks you for a job and sounds drunk. Hitchcock was short (5'5) and stout and perhaps unaware that he shared... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at The Best American Poetry
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Sara Eliza Johnson's poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Boston Review, Ninth Letter, New England Review, Best New Poets 2009, Crab Orchard Review, Pleiades, Meridian, TriQuarterly Online, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers' Award, a Winter Fellowship from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, a work-study scholarship to the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, and an Academy of American Poets Prize from the University of Utah, where she is PhD student in the Literature & Creative Writing program. Her first book, Bone Map, was selected for the 2013 National Poetry Series and will... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at The Best American Poetry
Deadline tomorrow Midnight in contest for best Haiku of August. -- David Lehman (Enter your haiku at the American Scholar.) Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at The Best American Poetry
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Here in New York’s Finger Lakes, corn season arrives late and leaves early. If you're like me, when you spot the first ears at a farmers market or roadside stand, you go a little crazy. Even though I’m usually cooking for just my husband and myself, I tend to buy dozens of ears at a time. My favorite comes from Ed Fedorka (above, also known as "the corn dude"), of Rainbow Valley Ranch, because corn is all he sells. Ed is living proof in my experience that if you make just one thing, you’re going to strive for perfection (think... Continue reading
Posted Aug 15, 2014 at The Best American Poetry
"When you have this menu for your guest's dinner, stick to the contents of each course as you serve it--no strawberries in the soup. . . . You must treat every topic once and be done with it--so you can build on top of it and not have to re-lay the foundation already set." Jacques Barzun, from a letter to Helen Hazen, The American Scholar, Spring 2013. -- sdh Continue reading
Posted Aug 14, 2014 at The Best American Poetry
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(Ed note: Jennifer Michael Hecht, author of Stay: A History of Suicide and the Philosophies Against It has written extensively about suicide here. In this piece, published yesterday in the New York Daily News, she cautions that celebrity suicides can trigger more deaths.) Losing Robin Williams hurts. Many millions of people loved him wholeheartedly. Others saw him as brilliant but a little too earnest, which now seems like a lovely offense. So the pain is widespread. It makes sense that we are talking about it in the media and on the Internet. But it is also a real problem. Mass... Continue reading
Posted Aug 14, 2014 at The Best American Poetry
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At 3:15 in the morning, in London, England, one hundred and fifteen years ago today, the great film director Alfred Hitchcock was born, a solid Leo with a macabre imagination (moon in Scorpio). When August 13 falls on a Friday, as in 1993 and 1999, you may expect bats to fly in through the slightest opening in the bathroom window, and the phone will ring at 11 PM and it will be someone you have never met, who asks you for a job and sounds drunk. Hitchcock was short (5'5) and stout and perhaps unaware that he shared his birthday... Continue reading
Posted Aug 13, 2014 at The Best American Poetry
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The American Scholar today announced that its Next Line, Please contest will continue with David Lehman as judge. Contestants are invited to submit a haiku. Here's what David has to say about the form and the rules for the contest: Sometimes a strict adherence to the rules is the only method that makes sense. That’s the case, I submit, with the haiku—the subject of this week’s “Next Line, Please” contest. A rarity among poetic forms, the haiku is indifferent to patterns of meter and rhyme and dependent entirely on syllabic count. The rules of the three-line form are few. The... Continue reading
Posted Aug 12, 2014 at The Best American Poetry
I don't know when David and I first found our way to Frédéric Bouché's Ports of New York winery. It certainly wasn't during a tour of the many wineries around the Finger Lakes wine region. The tiny building where Bouché makes his red and white Meleau Port wine sits on a small lot in the midst of an urban industrial landscape, near an auto-repair shop and a production studio. Behind the building's welcoming facade, Bouché uses state-of-the-art techniques and equipment to produce his rich and flavorful wines. We left our first visit with two bottles and over the years have... Continue reading
Posted Aug 11, 2014 at The Best American Poetry
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The Indie Poetry Bestseller List Compiled by the American Booksellers Association, and based on sales at hundreds of independent bookstores across the United States, for the twelve-week sales period ending August 3, 2014. For information on more titles, please visit IndieBound.org. 1. Dog Songs, Mary Oliver, Penguin Press, $26.95, 9781594204784 2. Aimless Love, Billy Collins, Random House, $26, 9780679644057 3. A Thousand Mornings: Poems, Mary Oliver, Penguin, $16, 9780143124054 4. The Prophet, Kahlil Gibran, Knopf, $15, 9780394404288 5. The Night Before College, Sonya Sones, Ava Tramer, Grosset & Dunlap, $9.99, 9780448461472 6. Poems That Make Grown Men Cry: 100 Men... Continue reading
Posted Aug 10, 2014 at The Best American Poetry
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This week we welcome Janet R. Kirchheimer as our guest author. Janet is the author of “How to Spot One of Us” (Clal 2007) and currently producing BE•HOLD, a cinematic poetry film. She received Honorable Mention in the String Poet Prize 2014, and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2007. Her work has appeared in a wide range of journals and online including Atlanta Review, Potomac Review, Limestone, Connecticut Review, Kalliope, Common Ground Review and beliefnet.com, and forthcoming in the anthology The Poet’s Quest for God. Janet teaches poetry, creative writing and memoir writing workshops in New York City,... Continue reading
Posted Aug 10, 2014 at The Best American Poetry
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Hamlet was born in Copenhagen, Denmark, on August 10, a Monday, at 8:11 AM. He wrote two novels and a book of poems, but it was as an actor and director that he gained the greatest recognition. He won two "best actor" Oscars, one for "best director," and a Grammy for his part in an ensemble performance of the best "best song" Oscars from 1936 until 1965. His career as a secret agent for the Americans in Vienna in the years immediately following World War II was disclosed only after his death in an affair of intrigue centering on the... Continue reading
Posted Aug 10, 2014 at The Best American Poetry
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On Tuesday, May 6, The American Scholar launched a website experiment in writing crowd-sourced poetry—in this case, a rhyming sonnet. David Lehman supplied the first line and picked subsequent lines from reader submissions. Last week, the sonnet had its fourteen lines. The New York Times joined in the fun. Today, David Lehman announced his choice for the title. Here is the poem in its entirety: Monday How like a prison is my cubicle, And yet how far my mind can freely roam: From gaol to Jerusalem, Hell to home. Freedom ends or starts with a funeral. Say what must die... Continue reading
Posted Aug 5, 2014 at The Best American Poetry
From today's Writer's Almanac: Today in 1884, the cornerstone of the Statue of Liberty's pedestal was laid. It was largely funded by an auction of contributed art and literary works. Emma Lazarus, 34 years old at the time, donated a poem for the occasion, which she titled "The New Colossus." Lazarus was devoted to the plight of Jewish immigrants, and she imagined that the statue would become a symbol of hope for all Ellis Island arrivals. The poem was forgotten for nearly 20 years, after which Lazarus' friends lobbied to have it emblazoned on a plaque and hung in the... Continue reading
Posted Aug 5, 2014 at The Best American Poetry
Today we have naming of parts. Yesterday, We had daily cleaning. And tomorrow morning, We shall have what to do after firing. But today, Today we have naming of parts. Japonica Glistens like coral in all of the neighboring gardens, And today we have naming of parts. This is the lower sling swivel. And this Is the upper sling swivel, whose use you will see, When you are given your slings. And this is the piling swivel, Which in your case you have not got. The branches Hold in the gardens their silent, eloquent gestures, Which in our case we... Continue reading
Posted Aug 5, 2014 at The Best American Poetry
Those long uneven lines Standing as patiently As if they were stretched outside The Oval or Villa Park, The crowns of hats, the sun On moustached archaic faces Grinning as if it were all An August Bank Holiday lark; And the shut shops, the bleached Established names on the sunblinds, The farthings and sovereigns, And dark-clothed children at play Called after kings and queens, The tin advertisements For cocoa and twist, and the pubs Wide open all day; And the countryside not caring: The place-names all hazed over With flowering grasses, and fields Shadowing Domesday lines Under wheat's restless silence;... Continue reading
Posted Aug 4, 2014 at The Best American Poetry
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Some time around July 15, we lost Tom Weatherly; his heart gave out. His fiancee Linda Murphy hadn’t heard from him in a few days; no one had—where were all his phone calls, emails, posts? People heard from Weatherly. But he was gone, alone, in the big house he’d inherited from his mother near his birthplace of Scottsboro, Alabama. But we’d just heard from him the week before! He’d called and talked to our son twice. He’d talked to so many people. We have emails from him that we were about to reply to. He’d just sent me a link... Continue reading
Posted Aug 4, 2014 at The Best American Poetry