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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
“Note: The story of ‘The Vanishing Lady’ is a fair specimen of folklore in the making. For such a story to travel round the world by word of mouth, it is necessary that each teller of it must believe it true, and it is a common practice for the artless teller to seek to impart that belief to his listeners by affecting kinship. . .with the protagonist of the adventure related.” Alexander Woollcott, “The Vanishing Lady” “Bravo, Paris Exposition!” Long-running and recurrent Fair, Centennial gift of freedom to the world--Eiffel Tower après le Bastille! Gamelan music! Buffalo Bill and Annie... Continue reading
Posted 48 minutes ago at The Best American Poetry
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Phil Silvers, who wrote the lyrics for "Nancy (with the Laughing Face)," took this photo. . . Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at The Best American Poetry
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Jimmy Kimbrell (left) and Kerry James Evans (right) Back with a few more impertinent Interviews With Poets. I’m in New York for a few days, getting up with friends (and thank you to the collectively lovely John Deming, Melinda Wilson, and Cate Marvin for their comfy spare rooms and fluffy pillows), and doing a reading for the KGB poetry series tonight (7:00, should anyone like to join us). I’m reading with Josh Bell who is by far one of my favorite poets writing today. Andhe KGB series is my favorite reading series. Two for two! Held on Monday evenings in... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at The Best American Poetry
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We're delighted that Erin Belieu has agreed to continue the popular series of posts from a coupleof weeks ago. Erin is the author of four poetry collections published by Copper Canyon Press, including Infanta, One Above & One Below, Black Box, and the forthcoming Slant Six, due in early November. She has been selected for the National Poetry Series, Bread Loaf and Sewanee conference fellowships, the Rona Jaffe Foundation award, the Ohioana Book Award, and the Midlands Author Award, and was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Her work has appeared in places such as The New... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at The Best American Poetry
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Tonight in 1957 one of the all-time great Broadway musicals made its debut: West Side Story, with music by Leonard Bernstein (left, in 1947), lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, book by Arthur Laurents, and choreography by Jerome Robbins. The show translated Romeo and Juliet into a Broadway show -- but with a tragic soul and a socially-conscious purpose absent from the most notable previous instance of Shakespeare transmuted into musical comedy: Cole Porter's Kiss Me, Kate, which took as its text The Taming of the Shrew. This is not to denigrate Porter's wonderful show, with its immortal "Brush Up Your Shakespeare,"... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at The Best American Poetry
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photo 2009 (c) Star Black Star Black took this photograph at the opening of John Ashbery's first show of his collages at the Tibor de Nagy gallery, November, 2009. Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at The Best American Poetry
Oz, Shangri-La, Bedford Falls, Pleasantville—how many ambiguous imagoes Hollywood has fashioned of itself! Our golden age, but darkened by sites under stress. Tonight I saw how it feels to suffer the brute force of a hundred screws; the eden of boyish complaisance, of glad obedience, broken by a warden on high. I get it, these tumultuous dining halls and prison yards are the commissary and studio lot, my neighborhood and your dream factory, my university and your corporate HQ. You bang your cup like Beery; I bang my plate like Chester Morris in a seething dame’s riotous script. Eventually the... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at The Best American Poetry
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Poets on stage at the BAP 2014 Launch. L to R: David Lehman, Ross Gay, Eileen Myles, Cornelius Eady, Joel Dias-Porter,Shara McCallum, Major Jackson, Lucie Brock-Broido,Jane Springer. Not visible: Mark Doty, Natalie Diaz, Sean Thomas Dougherty, Le Hinton, Yusef Komunyakaa, Hailey Leithauser, Frannie Lindsay, Cate Marvin,Valzhyna Mort, D. Nurkse, Gregory Pardlo, Roger Reeves, Patrick Rosal, Jon Sands, Afaa Michael Weaver, Rachel Zucker. Photo by Stacey Harwood On September 18th, twenty-four poets joined David Lehman at the New School for what has become an annual fall rite: the launch of the year’s The Best American Poetry. Each of the poets shared... Continue reading
Posted Sep 23, 2014 at The Best American Poetry
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David Lehman is looking for a line beginning with "D" -- in iambic tetrameter or pentameter preferably -- for the American Scholar's crowd-sourced acrostic poem spelling out Ralph Waldo Emerson's middle name and relating to his celebration of "Whim" in his essay "Self-Reliance." You can read the acrostic to date and enter your line at the American Scholar's site. -- sdh Continue reading
Posted Sep 23, 2014 at The Best American Poetry
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This week we welcome Daniel Brown as our guest author. Daniel's poems have appeared in Poetry, Partisan Review, PN Review, Parnassus, The New Criterionand other journals, as well as a number of anthologies including Poetry 180 (ed. Billy Collins) and Fathers (ed. David Ray). His work has been awarded a Pushcart prize, and his collection Taking the Occasion won the New Criterion Poetry Prize. A new collection, What More?, is forthcoming from Orchises Press in January. Brown’s criticism of poets and poetry has appeared in The Harvard Book Review, The New Criterion, and the onlineContemporary Poetry Review. His Why Bach?... Continue reading
Posted Sep 20, 2014 at The Best American Poetry
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JGO: Cave Canem was formed in 1996. What was the inspiration for creating “a home for black poetry?” AM: Toi Derricotte and Cornelius Eady recognized that African American poets were profoundly under-represented in the literary canon, academia, workshops, the world of publishing and literary awards, and elsewhere. Though the Dark Room Collective, founded in 1988, made a historic impact, in 1996, most African American poets were still writing in isolation. In her introduction to The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South, editor Nikky Finney writes, “Derricotte and Eady wanted to bring Black poets of all ages, abilities and backgrounds together... Continue reading
Posted Sep 20, 2014 at The Best American Poetry
Saturday market In Union Square: Cantaloupes Alongside apples. Confused by weather The woman on the subway Wears socks and sandals. Turning a corner, Into Sixth Avenue wind, The man holds his hat. At Gonzo cafe On Thirteenth, outdoor tables Are empty by eight. Looking up, nothing. On the horizon, two lights Grow brighter, then dim. (from the New York Times, October 4, 2004) Continue reading
Posted Sep 19, 2014 at The Best American Poetry
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(Ed note: Lisa's father is very much with us this week so I thought I would bring back this post from 2009.-- sdh) L-R: Illia Mazurek, Lisa Vihos, Georg Vihos (Photo by Stephan Mazurek) I met Lisa Vihos when David and I visited Lakeland College in Wisconsin last October. We were in a workshop together and I loved her poems. Later we talked about food and cooking and I was thrilled when she agreed to contribute a recipe. Lisa's poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Free Verse, Lakefire, Wisconson People and Ideas, Seems, and Big Muddy. She loves to... Continue reading
Posted Sep 18, 2014 at The Best American Poetry
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This just in: Terrance Hayes, guest editor of the Best American Poetry 2014, has been named a MacArthur fellow. By Michael A. Fuoco / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Terrance Hayes, a nationally renowned poet and a University of Pittsburgh writing professor, was in a Highland Park coffee shop a little more than a week ago when he got the call of a lifetime. Stunned, he turned to his wife, Yona Harvey, likewise a poet and Pitt professor, and shared the incredible news — he had been named one of 21 recipients of the prestigious MacArthur fellowships awarded to individuals “who show exceptional... Continue reading
Posted Sep 17, 2014 at The Best American Poetry
It is hard to believe that six years have passed since the day Lehman’s employees emptied their desks into banker’s boxes and triggered the Great Recession the worst threat to our banking system since the runs on banks in 1933, the worst crisis of credit and confidence with bad debts, loans irresponsibly made, credit swaps, the use of derivatives so complicated it makes options trading look like checkers in Fort Tryon Park, and on this unhappy anniversary you may wonder whether mind-sets have changed in risk management? I look around and see a lot of highly-leveraged balance sheets, and as... Continue reading
Posted Sep 15, 2014 at The Best American Poetry
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Lisa Vihos' poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Big Muddy, Forge, Main Street Rag, Red Cedar, Red Fez, Seems, The Camel Saloon, Verse Wisconsin, and Wisconsin People and Ideas.Her poems appear in two anthologies,Villanelles (Everyman's Library Pocket Poets) and Echolocations (Cowfeather Press) and she has published two chapbooks,A Brief History of Mail(Pebblebrook Press) andThe Accidental PresentShe has twice been nominated for a Pushcart prize and has had two previous stints as guest blogger here. By day she is a grant writer at Lakeland College in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. Lisa is the poetry and arts editor for Stoneboat literary journal, an... Continue reading
Posted Sep 14, 2014 at The Best American Poetry
(Ed note: When Erin inteviewed Mark Bibbins, he asked her to include one of her own poems. This was not to be so here is a Motionpoems video of Erin's terrific "When at a Certain Party in NYC" which first appeared in 32 Poems and which Kevin Young picked for The Best American Poetry 2011. --sdh) Continue reading
Posted Sep 12, 2014 at The Best American Poetry
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So I took this photo the first time I met Erin. It was shortly after I had moved to New York City and I was quite nervous. We were at David's Greenwich Village apartment, about to go to Quantum Leap for lunch. Erin let me try on her gloves, which were made out of Polar Fleece and lined with Thinsulate. They were extremely warm and confirmed that Erin was up on the latest in cold weather fashion. In case you're wondering about the title of this post, for some reason this song popped into my head so I went with... Continue reading
Posted Sep 11, 2014 at The Best American Poetry
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The American Scholar's Next Line, Please contest continues with a crowd-sourced five-line acrostic poem. Here's how David Lehman introduced the contest: We are going to write an acrostic based on an epigraph. The poem will have five lines when complete. The first letters of the lines, read vertically, shall spell out “Waldo,” the middle name of the man who wrote the essay from which this distinguished journal takes it name. That’s the acrostic part. The poem’s epigraph is from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Self-Reliance”: “I would write on the lintels of the door-post, Whim.” Lehman invited readers to submit a line... Continue reading
Posted Sep 10, 2014 at The Best American Poetry
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Beginning tomorrow, Alan Zeigler will join us as a regular contributor. Alan's posts earlier this year were quite popular so we are delighted that he has agreed to return. He is the editor of Short: An International Anthology of 500 Years of Short-Short Stories, Prose Poems, Brief Essays, and Other Short Prose Forms (Persea Books); his other books include Love At First Sight: An Alan Ziegler Reader; The Swan Song of Vaudeville: Tales and Takes (with an introduction by Richard Howard); The Green Grass of Flatbush (winner of the Word Beat Fiction Book Award, selected by George Plimpton); So Much... Continue reading
Posted Sep 10, 2014 at The Best American Poetry
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On September 3rd, a full house of eager poets, professors, students, and friends gathered at The New School for the season’s first poetry forum, featuring Edward Hirsch, poet, critic, anthologist, and president of the Guggenheim Foundation. Hirsch and moderator David Lehman spoke like old friends, for over an hour, without missing a beat between questions and comments. Lehman began by asking Hirsch to read the poem with which he opens his recent anthology A Poet’s Glossary (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014). It is a love poem, to poetry: “I have loved you my entire life” Hirsch writes. “Without even knowing what... Continue reading
Posted Sep 10, 2014 at The Best American Poetry
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(Ed note: The Inquisitive Eater is one website I visit often. It publishes a brilliant mix of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, visual art, news. This piece recently captured my attention and I contiue to return to it so it seemed worthwhile to share it here. sdh) Consider the Lobster. © Anna Cypra Oliver 2014. Oil on canvas 18″x20″. Haut-cuisine extravaganzas like Plaza-Athéneé Lobster Soufflé are not usually my thing, either as a diner or as a cook—too rich, too fattening, too much of a production—but when my neighbor Stan and I attempted to make it one New Year’s Day and failed,... Continue reading
Posted Sep 9, 2014 at The Best American Poetry
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This week we welcome Erin Belieu as our guest author. Erin is the author of four poetry collections published by Copper Canyon Press, including Infanta, One Above & One Below, Black Box, and the forthcoming Slant Six, due in early November. She has been selected for the National Poetry Series, Bread Loaf and Sewanee conference fellowships, the Rona Jaffe Foundation award, the Ohioana Book Award, and the Midlands Author Award, and was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Her work has appeared in places such as The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Atlantic, Ploughshares, Slate,... Continue reading
Posted Sep 7, 2014 at The Best American Poetry