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The Best American Poetry 2011

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  The latest installment of the yearly anthology of contemporary American poetry that has achieved brand-name status in the literary world.


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  The latest installment of the yearly anthology of contemporary American poetry that has achieved brand-name status in the literary world.

30 review for The Best American Poetry 2011

  1. 5 out of 5

    Flannery

    I thought for a long time about whether I wanted to review this or if I had the capacity to do so. I feel like there are hordes of poetry fans and critical readers who are waiting in the wings to tell me I’m an idiot and that I don’t understand poetry. Anthologies are always hit and miss for people--it’s near impossible to contain something meaningful to every reader but this collection had enough poems that truly hit it out of the park for me that I felt I should at least write something about I thought for a long time about whether I wanted to review this or if I had the capacity to do so. I feel like there are hordes of poetry fans and critical readers who are waiting in the wings to tell me I’m an idiot and that I don’t understand poetry. Anthologies are always hit and miss for people--it’s near impossible to contain something meaningful to every reader but this collection had enough poems that truly hit it out of the park for me that I felt I should at least write something about it. Is this the definitive collection of the best poems of the year? I really couldn’t say; I am no authority. I’ll leave that to other people to debate and just speak to my reading experience. Thankfully, David Lehman discusses this point in his foreword. The plethora of quotations in the first half of the foreword made it a choppy read for me but I am ecstatic to say that the part I enjoyed most about it was the last few paragraphs that Mr. Lehman wrote which summarized his own feelings on anthologizing poems, the wherewithal of poetry, and the structure and organization of the collection and all while devoid of quotes. It came as quite a surprise to me that this anthology is organized alphabetically. I read the foreword and introduction after the collection and didn’t notice (and constantly wondered about) the connective thread. I'm happy to finally know. Kevin Young, who selected the poems for this work, manages quite a feat in his introduction—he made me want to reread every poem in the book with his discussion and he compared the comeback of the sonnet to the much-hyped and awaited return of the McRib sandwich. Bravo, Mr. Young. My favorite poems are the ones that punch you in the gut in the fewest number of stanzas possible. Tell me in a two pages or less or my eyes will start to glaze over and my mind will start wandering. I read three or four of these poems every few nights before I went to sleep and some I read over and over and over. It is truly a gift to be able to evoke emotions with your words in such a brief format. I must admit that a few of them made me tear up, but the same number dazzled me with their humor and cleverness. For example, Rachel Wetzsteon’s Time Pieces features short haiku stanzas, each a clever play on a heading about the passage of time: “Intermission Time/Guilty admission:/this plunge from art to life’s a/painful transition.” Or “Just give it time/Though I frankly feel/better, there’s nothing sadder/than starting to heal.” (emphasis my own to differentiate headings) For some reason, I am always drawn to poems about loss. I was touched by Yusef Komunyakaa’s A Voice on an Answering Machine, in which he writes of a woman lost but whose voice still remains as a reminder and similarly moved by Gretchen Steele Pratt’s, To my father on the anniversary of his death. I think the common thread for me will always be personal memories. We all like to make that connection with other people and wait patiently for those a-ha moments in literature when writers fascinate us with their perfect statements. I have to admit that I laughed out loud during Erin Belieu’s, When at a Certain Party in NYC…clearly we’ve met some similar people in our travels. (and felt unhip at times) And I was quite surprised, as several of my reader friends may be, that both Sherman Alexie and Julianna Baggott have poems in this collection. I only mention these two specifically as I was familiar with their names before reading their biographical sections. I particularly enjoyed (as much as you can enjoy) Alexie’s Valediction, which goes back to my death-related poem obsession. He writes, “Yes, my sad acquaintance, each dark time is/Indistinguishable from the other dark times./Yesterday is as relentless as tomorrow.” Makes you really want to go to sleep, eh? A few of my other favorites were Eric Pankey’s Cogitatio Mortis (“After awhile, each room is a waiting room.”), James Longenbach’s Snow and Jane Hirschfield’s extremely short The Cloudy Vase, which captures optimism in just four lines. Because each poem is such a singular experience, I could obviously ramble about this anthology for ages. Some were better than others to me and many poems I enjoyed were left out of this review for the sake of brevity. This was my first experience with The Best American Poetry series and it won’t be my last. I’ll just leave you with just one more quote, from James Richardson’s “Even More Aphorisms and Ten-Second Essays from Vectors 3.0,” “What is more yours than what you always hold back?” Thanks to the publisher and Simon & Schuster’s Galley Grab program for reminding me how amazing poetry can be and for a larger collection of favorite quotations.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    Finished. I liked this year's effort slightly better than the last few, but not enough to bump it up a star. Part of the reason for this is that Young invests a lot of pages on long poems I didn't particularly like. As always, Series Editor, David Lehman, starts things off with a 10 page Forward to Kevin Young's 6 page Introduction. I've stopped reading Lehman's junk. I just find him a Look-At-Me windbag. Young's Intro sets the table, but a little misleadingly, mentioning the economic crisis -- Finished. I liked this year's effort slightly better than the last few, but not enough to bump it up a star. Part of the reason for this is that Young invests a lot of pages on long poems I didn't particularly like. As always, Series Editor, David Lehman, starts things off with a 10 page Forward to Kevin Young's 6 page Introduction. I've stopped reading Lehman's junk. I just find him a Look-At-Me windbag. Young's Intro sets the table, but a little misleadingly, mentioning the economic crisis -- and how poets have responded. Yeah, there's a few poems that touch on this, but the overwhelming number of poems in this effort are elegies -- the topic of a recent Young anthology. There are some powerfully sad poems in this collection. So much so that you kind of wanted a little more variety, but overall I think Young did a pretty good job (except for the long poems.) Here's a list of what I liked: Poems I liked (* Means extra-special.): Postlude and Prequel, by John Ashbery (I'm no Ashbery fan, so this is good news.)* To My Lover Concerning the Yird Swine, by Juliana Baggott* Mine is the First Rodeo, Mine is the Last Acolade, by Jaswinder Bolina Here and There, by Billy Collins (I do not like Collins, so again, good news & a good poem.)* Three Sonnets, by Olena Kalytiak Davis. I think I like these (3 poems). (Probably because of the use of the word "fuck" in sonnets. But I'm shallow about stuff like that.) Coffee, by Matthew Dickman Poppies, by Jennifer Grotz* God's Promises, by Paul Hoover* From Holding Company (a group of poems), by Major Jackson* A Voice on the Answering Machine, by Yusef Komunyakaa* (Might end up being the saddest poem of the bunch.) Horn, by Robert Pinsky Ghost Aurora, David St. John.* Nineteen Thirty-Eight, by Charles Simic Dream IV, by Gerald Stern Ecclesiastes II:I, by Richard Wilbur* (I didn't know he was still alive. Really good poem.) Poems I didn't like (by big name poets): Robert Hass, "August Notebook: A Death." Long and boring, and arguably not a poem (and I'm very flexible on that). Jane Hirshfield, "The Cloudy Vase." Too short and slight to deserve a slot in the BAP. Name over content here. Mark Strand, "The Poem of a Spanish Poet." Just plain sucks.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Bryn Donovan

    I expected this to be one of the better volumes in the series because Kevin Young edited it. And OK, there were some very boring poems in here and a few trite ones, but there were enough terrific ones for me to give the collection 5 stars. Patricia Smith's sonnet sequence, "Motown Crown," is fun to read and brilliantly crafted. James Richardson's "Even More Aphorisms and Ten-Second Essays from Vectors 3.0" and Rachel Wetzsteon's "Time Pieces" really inspired me. They are both big poems made up o I expected this to be one of the better volumes in the series because Kevin Young edited it. And OK, there were some very boring poems in here and a few trite ones, but there were enough terrific ones for me to give the collection 5 stars. Patricia Smith's sonnet sequence, "Motown Crown," is fun to read and brilliantly crafted. James Richardson's "Even More Aphorisms and Ten-Second Essays from Vectors 3.0" and Rachel Wetzsteon's "Time Pieces" really inspired me. They are both big poems made up of a bunch of tiny poems, a form I enjoy. My other favorites included: Erin Belieu's "When at a Certain Party in NYC;" Catherine Bowman's "The Sink;" Turner Cassity's "Off the Nollendorfplatz," in heroic couplets; Matthew Dickman's "Coffee;" Denise Duhamel's "My Strip Club" (a little slight, maybe, but I still really liked it); Cornelius Eady's "Emmett Till's Glass-Top Casket;" Jill Alexander Essbaum's "Stays;" K.A. Hays's "Just As, After a Point, Job Cried Out;" Bob Hicok's "Having Intended to Merely Pick on an Oil Company, the Poem Goes Awry;" Paul Hoover's "God's Promises;" Robert Pinsky's "Horn;" Lee Upton's "Drunk at a Party" (but I am a sucker for a sobriety poem); and C.K. Williams's "A Hundred Bones." I am sorry to say I have had enough of Robert Hass. I was over Billy Collins from the getgo. I'm sure they are very nice men of course. They probably wouldn't like my poems either.

  4. 4 out of 5

    B.

    Overall, I would give this collection a B average (technically an 86.1% avg.) as far as the quality of the poems contained. I know that attempting to quantify poetic effect/value is a ridiculous gesture, but I am simply a ridiculous person. Of course, this is purely based off of my own tastes and will not necessarily reflect your average satisfaction rate. I started a mission in October of 2016 to read the entire Best American Poetry series so that I can begin to get a better sense of A) what my Overall, I would give this collection a B average (technically an 86.1% avg.) as far as the quality of the poems contained. I know that attempting to quantify poetic effect/value is a ridiculous gesture, but I am simply a ridiculous person. Of course, this is purely based off of my own tastes and will not necessarily reflect your average satisfaction rate. I started a mission in October of 2016 to read the entire Best American Poetry series so that I can begin to get a better sense of A) what my taste in poetry is, and B) my own poetic voice. BAP 2011 was better than the 2012 edition, but it did not reach the heights of the 2016, 2014, and 1997 editions that I have read. I am starting to at least see that I have a few preferences and beliefs about what makes good poetry. Although, my beliefs about what I don't like to see in poetry may be more clearly defined. What I know that I don't like to see in a poem is perfectly embodied in a few of the poems in this 2011 edition. Stephen Yenser's "Cycladic Idyll: An Aplogia" is perhaps the best example of what I feel is the worst kind of modern poetry. The worst kind of modern poetry tries too hard to revive the urbane modernism of Pound and Eliot. It is filled with pretentious allusions that assume that every reader is well-versed in classical history and literature. To be clear, I too am reasonably educated in these things and I thoroughly enjoy the work of Pound and Eliot, but I feel that poetry is being held back and confined to academia by poems like Yenser's that take their (often dated) artistic sentiments much too far. That and the awkward, unwieldy, mid-size length of "Cycladic" is enough to turn off any non-poetry readers from ever wanting to try again. The stick is up this poem's ass and its lack of a clear thematic throughline and genuine emotion, make this poem structurally unsound. Every longer poem needs a clearer foundation that includes the two latterly mentioned traits, or else it will not stand erected in the reader's mind for years to come. If a poet is to venture into a longer form, then they damn well better ensure that their audience likes them enough to go along for the ride. If this cannot be accomplished, poems must aim to as memorable and crystalline efficient as possible. If poetry is ever to break out of the halls of academia and back into the mainstream, poets must remember their audience. They must make the kind of allusions that are welcoming or at least encourage quick hypertextual reading and not a four-year liberal arts degree from the Ivy League (Which one? Who cares). I say this in hopes that I do not come off an anti-intellectual or anti-classicist, but as a pro-poetry and pro-classicism. There are ways to write poems that make modern readers actually want to learn more about the allusions that poets are making. I strive for this in my own poetry. I feel that Padgett, Carver, and Collins are excellent models for what I am talking about. There are far too many wannabe modernists (that glorious age is over, let us study these masters but we do not ALL need to emulate them in every poem we write) and flighty postmodernists (hit or miss). Let's just focus, as poets, to try and write something that makes people want to feel for and with others, learn about our world, and read more poetry. That being said, there are many poems in this edition (and other editions of BAP) that do attain, or at leats come much closer, to achieving what is necessary to truly resuscitate poetry for modern American audiences. The niche culture of poets and poetry readers (although these are hardly mutually exclusive populations) is all well and good, but there will always be a niche for everything. We must as poets work to bring poetry into the hands of the many. Its beauty can no longer be confined and scorned. Masterpieces (8) "Dead Ass" by Michael Cirelli "In November" by Alan Feldman "The Cloudy Vase" by Jane Hirshfield "Notebooks" by Allison Joseph "Angels" by Katha Pollitt "The Smallest" by James Schuyler "Motown Crown" by Patricia Smith "The Poem of the Spanish Poet" by Mark Strand Masterful (11) "Valediction" by Sherman Alexie "When at a Certain Party in NYC" by Erin Belieu "Here and There" by Billy Collins "My Strip Club" by Denise Duhamel "Poppies" by Jennifer Grotz "Andrew Wyeth, Painter, Dies at 91" by L. S. Klatt "The Complaint Against Roney Laswell's Rooster" by Maurice Manning "Even More Aphorisms and Ten-Second Essays " by James Richardson "Provenance" by Mary Ruefle "The Afterlife" by Mary Jo Salter "Elegy" by Natasha Trethewey Masters Candidates (10) "Three Sonnets" by Olena Kalytiak Davis "Everything is Nervous" by Beckian Fritz Goldberg "Dear Gaybashers" by Jill McDonough "Word" by Jude Nutter "Cogitatio Mortis" by Eric Pankey "Nineteen Thirty-Eight" by Charles Simic "Thoreau and the Lightning" by David Wagoner "Time Pieces" by Rachel Wetzsteon "A Hundred Bones" by C. K. Williams "Mix Tape to Be Brought to Her in Rehab" by David Wojahn Overall, I would absolutely to highly recommend approx. 38% of the poems contained in this volume.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Interesting how the flavor of 10 years ago comes through here. Worth the read for many, if not all.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Tristan

    Like most "general" anthologies, this one was rather hit-or-miss. I found lots of poems I loved and a number of poems I found absolutely no worth in. There is typically little to no continuity in between adjacent poems, but this isn't really surprising given that the anthology is organized alphabetically by author's last name. As a "general" anthology, it was a success, bringing up some previously unknown names to watch for and introducing me to some very enjoyable individual poems. Some of my fa Like most "general" anthologies, this one was rather hit-or-miss. I found lots of poems I loved and a number of poems I found absolutely no worth in. There is typically little to no continuity in between adjacent poems, but this isn't really surprising given that the anthology is organized alphabetically by author's last name. As a "general" anthology, it was a success, bringing up some previously unknown names to watch for and introducing me to some very enjoyable individual poems. Some of my favorite poems were: " "When at a Certain Party in NYC"--a satirical description of the American upper-class; "My Strip Club"--a commentary on sexuality and objectification through the image of an imaginary place were dressing is perceived as erotic; "Poppies"--which speaks for itself; "August Notebook: A Death"--a bit confusing, but a beautiful story of loss; "Just As, After a Point, Job Cried Out"--about nature and weather and resistance; "Notebooks"--a hymn to writing and the possibilities inherent in it; "Dear Gaybashers"--a letter to the speaker's assailants that sings of hope for healing; and Patricia Smith's "Motown Crown"--a sonnet sequence that truly captures the pain and beauty and emotional overdrive associated with growing up. There were many other poems I marked as great (all 4.5 or 5 star poems), but these are some of the very best. Some pieces did not make sense or felt very weak. "What My Heart is Turning" and "To My Lover, Concerning the Yird-Swine" were in that first group of somewhat incomprehensible pieces. As for the second group, I really did not like the poems by Matthew and Michael Dickman, or Olena Kalytiak Davis' contribution. Many of the remaining pieces (like Rae Armantrout's "Soft Money") were neither particularly great nor especially bad, but rather perfectly fine poems that did not speak to me.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Sunni

    Some powerful poems in this collection, along with several that made me wonder (along with some of my students) how these poets ever published a poem let alone got published in "The Best American Poetry." I realize editors' tastes differ from readers and that, even if one doesn't like a poem per se you can still find the craft in it, but there were a few that were so vapid and bizarre that neither the content nor the craft was engaging. Paul Muldoon, are you from outerspace? However, Sherman Ale Some powerful poems in this collection, along with several that made me wonder (along with some of my students) how these poets ever published a poem let alone got published in "The Best American Poetry." I realize editors' tastes differ from readers and that, even if one doesn't like a poem per se you can still find the craft in it, but there were a few that were so vapid and bizarre that neither the content nor the craft was engaging. Paul Muldoon, are you from outerspace? However, Sherman Alexie's "Valediction," Jennifer Grotz's "Poppies," Alan Feldman's "In November" and Patricia Smith's "Motown Crown" stood out as exceptional pieces, among others. For me, though, one of the greatest delights in this collection is a series of sonnets by a little-known (no published book!) older woman who just got her MFA at 60 and wrote what, to me, was the most powerfully personal and lyrical piece, "Thirteen Months" (by Mary Jo Thompson). Thank heavens the editors recognize that there are poets who are not renound (yet) and do not teach at some elite university or in a nationally recognized MFA program but who have created memorable pieces of art that deserve to be read. If only there were a few more....

  8. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl Gatling

    I love these books. I have read most of them. People's tastes in poetry vary so widely that there will never be any consensus about what constitutes the "best." That's the advantage of having a different guest editor for each issue. Usually, if you like the work of the guest editor, you will like that editors picks. I do enjoy reading Kevin Young's work, so I found many of the poems in this anthology moving and/or memorable. They are, for the most part, what they call "accessible." I appreciate I love these books. I have read most of them. People's tastes in poetry vary so widely that there will never be any consensus about what constitutes the "best." That's the advantage of having a different guest editor for each issue. Usually, if you like the work of the guest editor, you will like that editors picks. I do enjoy reading Kevin Young's work, so I found many of the poems in this anthology moving and/or memorable. They are, for the most part, what they call "accessible." I appreciate language that is vivid, or surprising, or just sounds cool, but I only really enjoy it if I am able to understand what I am reading, and this anthology had enough storytelling, and enough plain language that it kept my interest. One of the things I enjoy most about the "Best" anthologies is the author notes at the back. The academic credentials are dry, but the authors each explain what sparked their poem, what they were thinking when they wrote it, and how it came to have the shape it has. Theory says that the poem should stand on its own as a work of art, but in practice, knowing the background almost always enhances my enjoyment of the poem.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Mmars

    I really appreciate what the annual Best American Poetry tries to do. One poet is given the honor/task of selecting poems published in various publications (books/journals) during the previous year. I have never read one from end to end, but have perused them, reading what I was interested in. I actually read this one just past halfway. I bowled my way through a couple selections, but thought most were accessible (i.e. not too post-modern.) It could perhaps be argued that Young played it a little I really appreciate what the annual Best American Poetry tries to do. One poet is given the honor/task of selecting poems published in various publications (books/journals) during the previous year. I have never read one from end to end, but have perused them, reading what I was interested in. I actually read this one just past halfway. I bowled my way through a couple selections, but thought most were accessible (i.e. not too post-modern.) It could perhaps be argued that Young played it a little too safe. I was familiar with most of the poets and would have liked being introduced to a few new faces. I wonder if the published was looking for this - some of the last years seemed to push the opposite direction and were less successful with the reading public. Perhaps they needed to bring back the readership. It worked for me.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Antonia

    There are a few really wonderful poems here and a lot more that are not so wonderful -- and many that I'm sure many people would say, not even good. The catch, of course, is that what I think were the good ones may not be the ones you'd pick. Ain't it the truth? I seem to have a bias against long poems, so wouldn't even try to comment on them. Weirdly, I thought that most of the poems whose authors' last names begin with P were quite good (e.g., Pankey, Pierce, Pollitt, Pratt). Also liked Armant There are a few really wonderful poems here and a lot more that are not so wonderful -- and many that I'm sure many people would say, not even good. The catch, of course, is that what I think were the good ones may not be the ones you'd pick. Ain't it the truth? I seem to have a bias against long poems, so wouldn't even try to comment on them. Weirdly, I thought that most of the poems whose authors' last names begin with P were quite good (e.g., Pankey, Pierce, Pollitt, Pratt). Also liked Armantrout, Essbaum, Goldberg, and Wetzsteon. The real standout for me was Trethewey's "Elegy" (for her father). You can read it here in the New England Review.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Abby

    this is the second book I read of this series dating back to 1986 I believe. and as a poetry lover, and an amateur poet it was absolutely mesmerizing. it shows you the roams and extents of creativity and beauty modern poetry can be, it extends to endless topics and fields and as laid out in the most creative original ways, and it was a pleasure to read. it is emotional it is unique and it is just a plain great experience especially for young poets such as my self to see the diversity at witch poetr this is the second book I read of this series dating back to 1986 I believe. and as a poetry lover, and an amateur poet it was absolutely mesmerizing. it shows you the roams and extents of creativity and beauty modern poetry can be, it extends to endless topics and fields and as laid out in the most creative original ways, and it was a pleasure to read. it is emotional it is unique and it is just a plain great experience especially for young poets such as my self to see the diversity at witch poetry can take place. turning any thing, every day life, little moments, buried memories and the most mundane to the most bizarr of thoughts into poetry. so far in the year 2012 this is one of my favorite reads. and I intend on reading all of the 26 books.

  12. 4 out of 5

    SmarterLilac

    One of the only Best American Poetries I've read in one sitting. It was nice to see a collection of work from younger authors, many born in the '60s, '70s and even the '80s. I also appreciated seeing some names I've long thought should get more recognition, including Allison Joseph. There are some nice, thought provoking pieces in here, my favorite being Cara Benson's 'Banking.' This installment also has the distinction of containing a long poem I actually think was worth the space (Robert Hass' One of the only Best American Poetries I've read in one sitting. It was nice to see a collection of work from younger authors, many born in the '60s, '70s and even the '80s. I also appreciated seeing some names I've long thought should get more recognition, including Allison Joseph. There are some nice, thought provoking pieces in here, my favorite being Cara Benson's 'Banking.' This installment also has the distinction of containing a long poem I actually think was worth the space (Robert Hass' 'August Notebook: A Death.') I'm glad this important series has continued on into the new decade.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Joan Colby

    . I enjoyed the prefaces and many of the poems in this collection—actually one of the best of this series that I have read. Poems I particularly admired include Coffee by Matthew Dickman, August Notebook: A Death by Robert Hass, Having Intended to Merely Pick on an Oil Company, the Poem Goes Awry by Bob Hicok, The Funeral Sermon by Andrew Hudgins, Narcissus by Major Jackson, Notebooks by Alison Joseph, Word by Jude Nutter, Pillow Talk by Jeni Olin, Motown Crown by Patricia Smith, The Afterlife b . I enjoyed the prefaces and many of the poems in this collection—actually one of the best of this series that I have read. Poems I particularly admired include Coffee by Matthew Dickman, August Notebook: A Death by Robert Hass, Having Intended to Merely Pick on an Oil Company, the Poem Goes Awry by Bob Hicok, The Funeral Sermon by Andrew Hudgins, Narcissus by Major Jackson, Notebooks by Alison Joseph, Word by Jude Nutter, Pillow Talk by Jeni Olin, Motown Crown by Patricia Smith, The Afterlife by Mary Jo Salter, Elegy by Natasha Trethewy, Angels by Katha Politt and especially the 10-part tour de force The Side Project by Paul Muldoon.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Nina

    I read this yearly anthology as much for the foreword (David Lehman) and the introduction by the guest editor (Kevin Young, 2011) as I do for the poems. Erika Meitner's poem, "Elegy with Construction Sounds, Water, Fish," stands out as exceptional, along with Alan Feldman's "In November," Sherman Alexie's "Valediction," and Natasha Tretheway's "Elegy." Patricia Smith's "Motown Crown" is easily my favorite. I don't generally enjoy overly long poems-this one ran 7 pages-but it caught my attention f I read this yearly anthology as much for the foreword (David Lehman) and the introduction by the guest editor (Kevin Young, 2011) as I do for the poems. Erika Meitner's poem, "Elegy with Construction Sounds, Water, Fish," stands out as exceptional, along with Alan Feldman's "In November," Sherman Alexie's "Valediction," and Natasha Tretheway's "Elegy." Patricia Smith's "Motown Crown" is easily my favorite. I don't generally enjoy overly long poems-this one ran 7 pages-but it caught my attention from the title and I was hooked. I keep going back and re-reading stanzas.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Logan

    Usually all that I ask for in a poetry anthology is to be introduced to a couple of new writers, a handful of interesting voices begging to be heard, ones that meet me halfway to my personality but also pull me in new directions. In this collection I can only say that were were five such people that hooked me: Elizabeth Alexander, Jaswinder Bolina, Terrance Hayes, James Richardson, and Stephen Yesser. There were several others who were also good, but none that stood out as prominently in my mind Usually all that I ask for in a poetry anthology is to be introduced to a couple of new writers, a handful of interesting voices begging to be heard, ones that meet me halfway to my personality but also pull me in new directions. In this collection I can only say that were were five such people that hooked me: Elizabeth Alexander, Jaswinder Bolina, Terrance Hayes, James Richardson, and Stephen Yesser. There were several others who were also good, but none that stood out as prominently in my mind as the afivementioned.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    My first experience with the "Best American Poetry" series was pleasant enough. I liked a handful of poems and plan to look up their poets' works. There is plenty of variety and most of the poems are quite short, which makes for an eclectic experience. My favorites were: Billy Collins' "Here and There" Jennifer Grotz's "Poppies" James Richardson's "Even More Aphorisms and Ten-Second Essays from Vectors 3.0" Stephen Yesner's "Cycladic Idyll: An Apologia"

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kat Asharya

    I've been reading this anthology since 1998; I found this installment to be really accessible. Of course, some poems I could care less about, others I loved, but I found Young was fairly generous in the breadth of the selection. There isn't anything too avant in it, but there's a largeness of spirit to many of the poems that I enjoyed, and I also appreciated that there was a diverse array of writers: young, people of color, older, established, new, etc.

  18. 5 out of 5

    C

    For a "best" anthology, this volume felt decidedly average to me. Interesting thing I've realized over the last few volumes: I tend to like poems by poets with last names later in the alphabet, apparently. Favorites from this include: Natasha Trethewey, David Wojahn, Patricia Smith, and Alan Michael Parker. Trethewey and Smith both blew me away with their poems presented here. Awesome stuff.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Liz Mourant

    Much better than 2010;s. More down to earth, visceral, imaginative without being too too coy as in 2010 BAP. Hooray for having better poetry and keeping my attention far more than before. Still, I wish I could love nearly all the poems instead of say...half. Poetry can't be to all of our liking though. Fairly good edition, the editor outdid himself I would say.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Markland W

    This book introduced me to so many great poets and that's exactly what an anthology should do, rather than become a house of the dead, where the traditional names come to set up residence. Kevin Young deserves much praise for creating much order and thematic alignment in this text. If you get this, read Patricia Smith's "Motown" poem. It's magical!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Cecilia

    Although I don't think these anthologies are the end all be all of poetry for the year, I still greatly enjoy and am moved by the poetry that is chosen. I loved the editors opening to the book, and really appreciated many of the pieces chosen. I would definitely recommend this book, especially for readers trying to get a good grasp on poetry in the last few years.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Dawn Betts-Green (Dinosaur in the Library)

    "To abandon language is to stop creating a place other than your own life in which to live. It is to enter the terrible certainty of the flesh. Even god is only possible through language -Jude Nutter, "Word"

  23. 5 out of 5

    William

    Kevin Young's own sensibilities shine in this volume. He brings a distinctive ear to the poems, one more inclined to black poets, contemporary themes. And as is the case with his other writing, the poems are filled with verbal delights

  24. 5 out of 5

    Patti K

    This selection was guest edited by Kevin Young and is very good. Sherman Alexie's "Valediction" is a poignant tribute to a young suicide. And there are other good poems by Carolyn Forche, Robert Hass, Jane Hirsfield, and Richard Wilbur. I enjoyed this edition very much.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Janet

    I am just starting to explore poetry, and I enjoyed this volume very much. As others have said, there are a wide range of styles and themes here, and it's unlikely any one person will like all the poems -- but I found a lot here to enjoy.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ray

    Perhaps it was because I'd just gotten out of a frustrating poetry workshop, but I was fairly unimpressed with a lot of the poetry here. I loved "Dead Ass," though :)

  27. 4 out of 5

    Alex Pepple

    This series has been going downhill year after year, and it has hit rock bottom with this issue. This must be the worst of the bunch, and it's laughable to have 'best' poetry associated with it.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Leaflet

    It's hard to rate an anthology - most I wasn't wild about. A few I liked.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Carrie

    The best American Poetry...still about sex and death. Like almost all poetry.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Lesley

    I rather liked this BAP, but I typically love Kevin Young as an anthologist, so that's no big surprise!

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