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The premier anthology of contemporary American poetry continues—guest edited this year by award-winning poet Edward Hirsch, a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and the president of The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. The Best American Poetry series is “a vivid snapshot of what a distinguished poet finds exciting, fresh and memorable” (Robert Pinsky); a The premier anthology of contemporary American poetry continues—guest edited this year by award-winning poet Edward Hirsch, a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and the president of The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. The Best American Poetry series is “a vivid snapshot of what a distinguished poet finds exciting, fresh and memorable” (Robert Pinsky); a guiding light for the mood and shape of modern American poetry. Each year, this series presents essential American verse and the poets who create it. Truly the “best” American poetry has appeared in this venerable collection for over twenty-five years. A poet of decided brilliance since his 1981 debut collection, For the Sleepwalkers, Edward Hirsch curates a thoughtful selection of poetry for 2016 and an Introduction to be savored. Jumpha Lahiri said of Hirsch, “The trademarks of his poems are…to be intimate but restrained, to be tender without being sentimental, to witness life without flinching, and above all, to isolate and preserve those details of our existence so often overlooked, so easily forgotten, so essential to our souls.” Hirsch’s choices for this collection reflect the soul of poetry in America. As ever, series editor David Lehman opens this year’s edition with an insider’s guide and a thoughtful contemplation of poetry today.


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The premier anthology of contemporary American poetry continues—guest edited this year by award-winning poet Edward Hirsch, a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and the president of The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. The Best American Poetry series is “a vivid snapshot of what a distinguished poet finds exciting, fresh and memorable” (Robert Pinsky); a The premier anthology of contemporary American poetry continues—guest edited this year by award-winning poet Edward Hirsch, a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and the president of The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. The Best American Poetry series is “a vivid snapshot of what a distinguished poet finds exciting, fresh and memorable” (Robert Pinsky); a guiding light for the mood and shape of modern American poetry. Each year, this series presents essential American verse and the poets who create it. Truly the “best” American poetry has appeared in this venerable collection for over twenty-five years. A poet of decided brilliance since his 1981 debut collection, For the Sleepwalkers, Edward Hirsch curates a thoughtful selection of poetry for 2016 and an Introduction to be savored. Jumpha Lahiri said of Hirsch, “The trademarks of his poems are…to be intimate but restrained, to be tender without being sentimental, to witness life without flinching, and above all, to isolate and preserve those details of our existence so often overlooked, so easily forgotten, so essential to our souls.” Hirsch’s choices for this collection reflect the soul of poetry in America. As ever, series editor David Lehman opens this year’s edition with an insider’s guide and a thoughtful contemplation of poetry today.

30 review for Best American Poetry 2016

  1. 5 out of 5

    Perry

    Epiphanic Anthology of the Best American Poetry, 2016 This is a sublime opus of the American poet, circa 2016. As the editor Edward Hirsch writes, "Poetry enlarges our experience. It brings us greater consciousness, fuller being. It stands on the side of life, our enthrallment." “Poetry everywhere is inseparable in its origins from the singing voice and the measure of the dance,” the linguist Edward Sapir writes. Select parts of one of my favorites, "Ugglig," by Michelle Boisseau, Parnassus: Cloc Epiphanic Anthology of the Best American Poetry, 2016 This is a sublime opus of the American poet, circa 2016. As the editor Edward Hirsch writes, "Poetry enlarges our experience. It brings us greater consciousness, fuller being. It stands on the side of life, our enthrallment." “Poetry everywhere is inseparable in its origins from the singing voice and the measure of the dance,” the linguist Edward Sapir writes. Select parts of one of my favorites, "Ugglig," by Michelle Boisseau, Parnassus: Clock in the hall, tea in cups, Henry James has come to call on George Eliot. “To begin with,” he writes his father, “she is magnificently ugly, deliciously hideous.” James is twenty-six—forgive him for flexing his wit as his pen strides under a lamp burning with whale oil, and let’s go where ugly began, Old Norse, Iceland riding a gash in the earth’s crust so that slow kisses burble the stinking mud and hot goo geysers in hairy splendor. *** ...Ugly, ugglig, the choke and glub of drowning, overcome outside your element among the flowing families of swimmers with faces not meant to be looked at. Ugly is the mother of the sublime—dreadful and magnetic, it sucks you over edges with the torque of awe, so much like love it must be love. “Now in this vast ugliness,” James continues, “resides the most powerful beauty which, in a very few minutes steals forth and charms the mind, so you end as I ended, in falling in love with her.” And Eliot in her horse-faced glory?...." Others of my favorites included: "As If," Julie Kane, London Review of Books; "Maid Maleen," Anya Silver, The Literary Review; "If He Came & Diminished Me & Mapped My Way," Larry Levis, The New Yorker; "My Father's 'Norton Introduction to Literature, Third Edition' (1981)," Hai-Dang Phan, Paperbag; "Daylight Savings," Jill Bialosky, Waxwing; and, "When I turned fourteen, my mother's sister took me to lunch and said:," Alexis Rhone Fancher, The Southern Review My thanks to Net Galley and Scribner for providing me an ARC in exchange for a fair, honest review.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Ellie

    Obviously, after reading this collection, 2016 was a great year for poetry. Best of American Poetry 2016 opens with an introduction by series editor David Lehman that is both informative and a very helpful guide to this volume. The editor of this volume, poet Edward Hirsch, has chosen from a wide range of works, from established poets such as Jorie Graham and Philip Levine to other poets less well-known (at least to me) allowing me to enjoy some of my favorite poets as well as discover new ones. Obviously, after reading this collection, 2016 was a great year for poetry. Best of American Poetry 2016 opens with an introduction by series editor David Lehman that is both informative and a very helpful guide to this volume. The editor of this volume, poet Edward Hirsch, has chosen from a wide range of works, from established poets such as Jorie Graham and Philip Levine to other poets less well-known (at least to me) allowing me to enjoy some of my favorite poets as well as discover new ones. I enjoy this series in general for this reason. So many poems are published this year, it’s hard to keep up and this series offers at least one support. Not all the poems seemed to me equally good but most of them were excellent. I felt that with every poem I discovered something new-about the world and myself. The subject matter varies tremendously as do the forms. There are many prose poems. There is love in its many different shapes. There is grief and loss-there is actually quite a lot about death. Since I was reviewing this book, I felt I had to push through it more quickly than I would have liked to and I look forward to revisiting this volume at greater leisure. It is a book that I am sure will continue to give me great pleasure over time. My thanks to NetGalley, Scribner Poetry, and the editors and contributors to this fine volume of poetry for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review

  3. 5 out of 5

    Lyana Rodriguez

    3.5 stars

  4. 5 out of 5

    Romany Arrowsmith

    This book was given to me by a loathsome person who I wish I could never see again but am forced to interact with because of my job. Luckily it is a very fine selection of poetry which somewhat helps to offset the irritation of having this person around. Were they never in my life, I never would have come across the majority of these poems. So, like the fact that I learned how to properly chop garlic from a horrible ex-boyfriend, even bad people can be good for you in small ways. Here follows som This book was given to me by a loathsome person who I wish I could never see again but am forced to interact with because of my job. Luckily it is a very fine selection of poetry which somewhat helps to offset the irritation of having this person around. Were they never in my life, I never would have come across the majority of these poems. So, like the fact that I learned how to properly chop garlic from a horrible ex-boyfriend, even bad people can be good for you in small ways. Here follows some of my favorite lines, but there are many more. JENNIFER GROTZ (Self-Portrait on the Street of an Unnamed Foreign City) I went to distant cities, it almost didn’t matter which, so primed was I to be reverent. All of them have the beautiful bridge crossing a grey, near-sighted river, one that massages the eyes, focuses the swooping birds that skim the water’s surface. The usual things I didn’t pine for earlier because I didn’t know I wouldn’t have them. I spent so much time alone, when I actually turned lonely it was vertigo. JULIE KANE (As If) I have to pinch myself to prove you're back, though balder, ten pounds thinner, better dressed— as if the universe had jumped a track, no hurricane, no choices second-guessed. At times my ears pick up the strangest sound, as if the dead were clapping underground. DEBORAH LANDAU (Solitaire) In the pool, I was more heavy than light. Pockmarked and flabby in a floppy hat. What will my body be When parked all night in the earth? MORGAN PARKER (Everything Will Be Taken Away) You like it at church when strangers hold your hand. You have a mouth men bless. You look good enough to bury. PATRICK ROSAL (At the Tribunals) In those days, it was always spring and I was mostly made of knives. ADRIENNE SU (Peaches) ...or fire and ice could be procured, which would be labor-intensive, but so was everything else my parents did. Their lives were labor, they kept this from the kids, who grew up to confuse work with pleasure, to become typical immigrants’ children, taller than their parents and unaware of hunger except when asked the odd, perplexing question.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Twila Newey

    I loved a lot of the poems in this collection. I knew it would appeal when I opened the introduction and read "Poetry is not a competitive sport with different teams playing against each other...It seems crucial to me to be open to different perspectives, a variety of poetic forms and experiments, a range of viewpoints...We live, perhaps we have always lived in perilous times, and stand on the edge of an abyss, which absorbs us. We are called to task. Poetry enlarges our experience. It brings us I loved a lot of the poems in this collection. I knew it would appeal when I opened the introduction and read "Poetry is not a competitive sport with different teams playing against each other...It seems crucial to me to be open to different perspectives, a variety of poetic forms and experiments, a range of viewpoints...We live, perhaps we have always lived in perilous times, and stand on the edge of an abyss, which absorbs us. We are called to task. Poetry enlarges our experience. It brings us greater consciousness, fuller being. It stands on the side of life, our enthrallment." Many of the poems use the lyric "I", which my I tends to be drawn to. I also have a list of new poets to explore and read, Christopher Bakken, Catherine Barnett, Jill Bialosky, Laura Eve Engel, Denis Duhamel and on and on including Edward Hirsch. I am in the midst of "Wild Gratitude" that I get to explore poetry on my own terms, free of schools and borders, in an organic wander through wide open spaces that exist inside and outside of me.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Gill

    'Best American Poetry 2016' Series editor David Lehman Guest editor Edward Hirsch. 4 stars/ 8 out of 10 I read a lot of poetry, but most of the contemporary poetry that I read is from the UK, or is poetry in translation. So I was pleased to have the opportunity to read this collection, and to find out more about current American poetry. Even without the actual poems, this book would be well worth reading, for the Foreword by David Lehman, which focuses primarily on the relevance for today of W.B. Y 'Best American Poetry 2016' Series editor David Lehman Guest editor Edward Hirsch. 4 stars/ 8 out of 10 I read a lot of poetry, but most of the contemporary poetry that I read is from the UK, or is poetry in translation. So I was pleased to have the opportunity to read this collection, and to find out more about current American poetry. Even without the actual poems, this book would be well worth reading, for the Foreword by David Lehman, which focuses primarily on the relevance for today of W.B. Yeats' poem 'The Second Coming' (one of my favourite poets and favourite poems); and for the Introduction by Edward Hirsch (especially interesting for me were the sections on the influence of poetry in translation). Although it is clear from the Foreword and from the Introduction that several of the poets included in this anthology are well known, they are almost without exception unknown to me. This felt like a distinct advantage as I read my way through the anthology; I was approaching them all equally. There were more than 70 poems in this anthology. I read all of them, and I read 20 of these more than once. This reflects well on the anthology as a whole. My favourites of the poems were 'Meet me at the lighthouse' by Dana Gioia, 'My father's 'Norton Introduction to Literature, Third Edition (1981)' by Hai-Dang Phan and 'Grief' by Taije Silverman. I especially liked that there were Notes about each poet and added Comments about each poem. I look forward to the 2017 volume in this series. Thank you to Scribner and to NetGalley for an ARC.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Ruckasaurus Rex

    I think this was a great poetry read, with the exception that the editor's intro was...very, very long. Several pages long. I understand the length if you are analyzing a poetry compilation for students, but it seemed a little lengthy for a casual poetry reader. Intro aside, the poetry is outstanding, though a little more linguistically biting. I honestly relate the sharpness of the language in the poems to the more tense situations in society and the world today...and perhaps to a bit of desens I think this was a great poetry read, with the exception that the editor's intro was...very, very long. Several pages long. I understand the length if you are analyzing a poetry compilation for students, but it seemed a little lengthy for a casual poetry reader. Intro aside, the poetry is outstanding, though a little more linguistically biting. I honestly relate the sharpness of the language in the poems to the more tense situations in society and the world today...and perhaps to a bit of desensitization the world is experiencing. There were long poems, short poems, and poems with all types of patterns - a little something for everyone.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Brady Dale

    Years ago I resolved to read this volume every year. This is the first time I've come through on that (tho I did stop reading a few along the way) We got a preview, pre-press copy to check out in my office (which is a newsroom). There's a lot of good stuff in here. It seemed like aging and death were a big theme, though. I loved a smattering of clear current events poems, like one about fracking. A few just hit you with powerful vignettes, though. A lot of the poetry seemed very prosey, but that's Years ago I resolved to read this volume every year. This is the first time I've come through on that (tho I did stop reading a few along the way) We got a preview, pre-press copy to check out in my office (which is a newsroom). There's a lot of good stuff in here. It seemed like aging and death were a big theme, though. I loved a smattering of clear current events poems, like one about fracking. A few just hit you with powerful vignettes, though. A lot of the poetry seemed very prosey, but that's not so bad, necessarily.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Naima

    I received this book through NetGalley and Scribner in exchange for an honest review. The collection of poetry ends at 53%, if you have a NetGalley copy and are worried about how long it'll take you to read it. Like, really, I was wondering how much longer this could be drawn out (because it was just poem after poem of purple prose and circular references- I was just about Over It) when it suddenly ended and I was... surprised? I guess? I mean, I was hoping I'd find more poems I liked, but (even I received this book through NetGalley and Scribner in exchange for an honest review. The collection of poetry ends at 53%, if you have a NetGalley copy and are worried about how long it'll take you to read it. Like, really, I was wondering how much longer this could be drawn out (because it was just poem after poem of purple prose and circular references- I was just about Over It) when it suddenly ended and I was... surprised? I guess? I mean, I was hoping I'd find more poems I liked, but (even for me, a poetry fanatic)... yeah, severely lacking. Some of my favorite lines: * "What could be lonelier, more full of mute ringing than what she's writing. That, and the wine." * "My cousin cries about a guy, and I say, 'Good, no one likes him anyway.' No, I don't. I say, 'Find someone who'll treat it like an experience.' And if you do and he doesn't, forget about the clove. He'll ask, 'Was I supposed to swallow that?' Answer, 'That's what she said.'" * "My cousin rolls her eyes, says I don't understand. The time spent convincing the heartbroken you've been heartbroken." * "I may have been a nontraditional student but I was a traditional person, she said, the way a professor can say intimate things sometimes, as though your face and soul are aglow in one of those magnified (X 10) makeup mirrors." * "He closed the door and showed me the scars under his shirt where he had been stabbed. He said I had to assume that everyone had such a wound, whether I could see it or not." * "I spent so much time alone, when I actually turned lonely it was vertigo." * "I was on the road for so long by myself, I took to reading motel Bibles just for company. Lying on the chintz bedspread before going to sleep, still feeling the motion of the car inside my body, I thought some wrongness in myself had left me that alone."

  10. 5 out of 5

    Meghan

    I am in the process of making friends with a poet. So I decided to read a book of poetry, and figured a Best Of meant that I wouldn't have to suffer through a bunch of drivel. Of course, now that I've written the first two sentences of this review, I'm thinking I should have planned and made it in iambic pentameter or something, which would mean looking up exactly what iambic pentameter is because I think what I think iambic pentametic is (da da da da da da da; da da da da da da da da) may just I am in the process of making friends with a poet. So I decided to read a book of poetry, and figured a Best Of meant that I wouldn't have to suffer through a bunch of drivel. Of course, now that I've written the first two sentences of this review, I'm thinking I should have planned and made it in iambic pentameter or something, which would mean looking up exactly what iambic pentameter is because I think what I think iambic pentametic is (da da da da da da da; da da da da da da da da) may just be a rhythm that children's books are often written in. So I don't read much poetry. I know that I like reading poems that rhyme, but then (I thought quite hard on this) I realized that saying I like reading poems that rhyme really means I like reading When We Were Very Young and Now We Are Six by A.A. Milne, because very few poems rhymed in Best American Poetry 2016 and, the ones that did, I didn't enjoy as much as the ones that didn't. I read a few poems from the anthology each day, letting them shine on me like equatorial sunshine. That's what I think good poetry should do, make you feel like one is standing in a southern Italian sun, by the beach but not on the beach, with that white light we don't get here (too far north). Clarity. To be of pure white light is how I described my daughter; good poetry should be like that. For the most part, Best American Poetry 2016 was like that. I felt cleansed. Best American Poetry 2016 edited by Edward Hirsch went on sale September 6, 2016.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Sondous

    Cute book & good poems. What I loved the most about it is the annotations in the back because they gave some insight to what each poem was written about and in what context. That is very important to me when reading poetry; I always stop to wonder what the poet was thinking of in the moment the words were written down. Many of the poems where thought-provoking and super deep too Cute book & good poems. What I loved the most about it is the annotations in the back because they gave some insight to what each poem was written about and in what context. That is very important to me when reading poetry; I always stop to wonder what the poet was thinking of in the moment the words were written down. Many of the poems where thought-provoking and super deep too

  12. 4 out of 5

    sam wilder

    "...as for poetry, / Poetry turned out fine, though nobody actually cares about it / In the old sense anymore..." yeah, john koethe pretty much nailed it.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Marc

    Edward Hirsch's inspiring introduction to this collection deserves five stars alone! The collection itself was quite varied and had more than a few standouts, but I felt like simply listing them in order by author's last name kind of worked against the writing. And the ones that didn't speak to me really didn't speak to me. The authors not only each get a brief paragraph bio in the back of the book, but also a paragraph to discuss the poem that made it into the collection thereby providing the r Edward Hirsch's inspiring introduction to this collection deserves five stars alone! The collection itself was quite varied and had more than a few standouts, but I felt like simply listing them in order by author's last name kind of worked against the writing. And the ones that didn't speak to me really didn't speak to me. The authors not only each get a brief paragraph bio in the back of the book, but also a paragraph to discuss the poem that made it into the collection thereby providing the reader a little more context and meaning for each piece. Original position confirmed: I'm better off reading an individual poet's collection or collections organized around a theme/style. Bear in mind, I don't read a lot of contemporary poetry (or older poetry for that matter). Feel free to share some of your favorite poems or poets in the comments below. --------------------------------------- One of my favorites from the collection: DOME OF THE HIDDEN TEMPLE by James Tate People were going about their chores. Some were eating lunch. Others, like me, were just standing around doing nothing, just taking in the scene. I saw a dozen ducks fly over low on their way to the pond. A policeman walked by swinging his club. The firemen were washing their fire truck. Margie walked out of a shoe store and saw me. She walked up to me and said, "Have you heard the news? Rosie and Larry broke up." "Why? They were the best darn couple I knew," I said. "I agree. They had everything going for them," she said. "Did you talk to her?" I said. "She said he thinks he's an armadillo. He eats insects and mud and dug a burrow in the back of the house," she said. "He didn't look like an armadillo. I thought he was a very good-looking guy, always very nice to me," I said. "Whatever the case, I'll miss their parties. The were always such fun," she said. "They were the best," I said. "I've got to run, nice to see you, Tim," she said. I walked over to the drugstore and bought myself some toothpaste. When I came out, a light spring rain had started. The pigeons on the bank took off and flew in circles around the town. A man walked up to me and said, "Do you know where the Dome of the Hidden Temple is?" I said, "Yes, but I can't tell you. It's a secret." "But I'm supposed to meet somebody there," he said. "Then that person should have told you how to get there," I said. "I guess he thought I knew," he said. "Almost nobody knows," I said. "Then why do you know?" he said. "Because I am the Priest of Nothingness," I said. "Are you really?" he said. "No, I just made that up," I said. "Oh, so you're a comedian," he said. "Yes, I'm a comedian," I said. "Well, you're not very good," he said. "I know," I said. --------------------------------------- WORDS I LEARNED WHILE READING THIS BOOK syncretism | katabasis | autochthonous

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kenton Yee

    Glad I read this volume. Was initially surprised and disappointed that the guest editor Edward Hirsch disproportionately represented lyric poems at the expense of avant-garde (including postmodern, genre, or L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E) ones. In his Introduction, Hirsch admits this, asserting that avant-garde poets have displaced subject matter "with a theory of language as an entirely self-referential system. Poetry becomes free play. It courts meaninglessness.” Though I disagree (readers who want to can c Glad I read this volume. Was initially surprised and disappointed that the guest editor Edward Hirsch disproportionately represented lyric poems at the expense of avant-garde (including postmodern, genre, or L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E) ones. In his Introduction, Hirsch admits this, asserting that avant-garde poets have displaced subject matter "with a theory of language as an entirely self-referential system. Poetry becomes free play. It courts meaninglessness.” Though I disagree (readers who want to can create their own meanings), I do enjoy the authorial guidance lyrical poems offer. Coming from a science and business background, where the "best" creativity and innovation disproportionately come from those under 40, I'm astonished that (by my estimation) 2/3 of the poets in this volume are older than 60; 8% are deceased(!); 90% are senior or retired English or MFA professors (as are the two editors of this volume); and 100% have an extensive publication and prize record. I do not see even one previously undiscovered young poet without a lengthy and traditional literary resume in the entire volume! So I'm left with the scary impression that Best American Poetry 2016 and the field of lyric poetry in general has been institutionalized into a polished product of a closed, elitist, and fossilizing community cloistered around American academic and MFA programs. That said, as an outsider and newbie, I was introduced to dozens of impressive lyrical voices, including Charles Fort, James Tate, Jorie Graham, and others. I keep returning to Larry Levis' voice in “If He Came & Diminished Me & Mapped My Way”, which includes lines like: It is years later when I come back to that place where I’d hiked once, And somehow lost the trail, & then, For a while, walked in the Company of Hallucination & Terror, And noted afterward, like something closing within me, That slight disappointment when I found The trail again, when the rocks & trees took Their places beside it, & I went on, up ... Though this isn't a recent poem (Levis' died in 1996), its subject matter - drugs, religion, and coming of age - is as relevant as always. ⏳

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kenton Yee

    Glad I read this volume. Was initially surprised and disappointed that the guest editor Edward Hirsch disproportionately represented lyric poems at the expense of avant-garde (including postmodern, genre, or L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E) ones. In his Introduction, Hirsch admits this, asserting that avant-garde poets have displaced subject matter "with a theory of language as an entirely self-referential system. Poetry becomes free play. It courts meaninglessness.” Though I disagree (readers who want to can c Glad I read this volume. Was initially surprised and disappointed that the guest editor Edward Hirsch disproportionately represented lyric poems at the expense of avant-garde (including postmodern, genre, or L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E) ones. In his Introduction, Hirsch admits this, asserting that avant-garde poets have displaced subject matter "with a theory of language as an entirely self-referential system. Poetry becomes free play. It courts meaninglessness.” Though I disagree (readers who want to can create their own meanings), I do enjoy the authorial guidance lyrical poems offer. Coming from a science and business background, where the "best" creativity and innovation disproportionately come from those under 40, I'm astonished that (by my estimation) 2/3 of the poets in this volume are older than 60; 8% are deceased(!); 90% are senior or retired English or MFA professors (as are the two editors of this volume); and 100% have an extensive publication and prize record. I do not see even one previously undiscovered young poet without a lengthy and traditional literary resume in the entire volume! So I'm left with the scary impression that Best American Poetry 2016 and the field of lyric poetry in general has been institutionalized into a polished product of a closed, elitist, and fossilizing community cloistered around American academic and MFA programs. That said, as an outsider and newbie, I was introduced to dozens of impressive lyrical voices, including Charles Fort, James Tate, Jorie Graham, and others. I keep returning to Larry Levis' voice in “If He Came & Diminished Me & Mapped My Way”, which includes lines like: It is years later when I come back to that place where I’d hiked once, And somehow lost the trail, & then, For a while, walked in the Company of Hallucination & Terror, And noted afterward, like something closing within me, That slight disappointment when I found The trail again, when the rocks & trees took Their places beside it, & I went on, up ... Though this isn't a recent poem (Levis' died in 1996), its subject matter - drugs, religion, and coming of age - is as relevant as always. ⏳

  16. 4 out of 5

    Laurie

    As I wrote in an early review of a Best American volume for the same year, it's always a crapshoot to read through a "Best of" anything anthology, because at best the "Best" is a moving target and at worst it's on another planet. But this iteration of the work is edited by Edward Hirsch, whose poetry I seem to recall lingering on firm and sometimes luscious imagery and no stranger to narrative, overt or implied. There was a decade or two when such couldn't be said for the poems in any "Best" anth As I wrote in an early review of a Best American volume for the same year, it's always a crapshoot to read through a "Best of" anything anthology, because at best the "Best" is a moving target and at worst it's on another planet. But this iteration of the work is edited by Edward Hirsch, whose poetry I seem to recall lingering on firm and sometimes luscious imagery and no stranger to narrative, overt or implied. There was a decade or two when such couldn't be said for the poems in any "Best" anthology. Like linguistic puzzles intended for the insider elite, they fueled themselves with French philosophies of disintegration and buzzed outside my poetry screens like hornets. Sometimes I felt stung by their very presence. Something out there must have shifted. I found in this volume a lot to inspire and admire. I particularly like the tone the volume creates with its whole -- a melancholy look at the present moment, a nostalgic lingering on a past that, even though golden, remains somewhat bitter for all of that, on the verge (or just past) of spoiling. There's a held-breath feeling for the future, a nervous anticipation without much form. Perhaps the volume is fueled, in part, by anxiety. By a feeling of anxious malaise. A nervous "What next?" elephant in the room kind of feeling. And since that matches not only the national feeling but my particular bent of late, I appreciate the way these poems -- in their brevity, their concrete and abstract steps toward that unknown -- hit the ear and eye, and linger in the unconscious. Plus, I find some old friends: Larry Levis, Philip Levine, David St. John, Michael Collier, Tony Hoagland, Denise Duhamel (to name a few, and sorry that they are mostly male) and some new interests: Erin Hoover, Anya Silver, Taije Silverman, A.E. Stallings, Eleanor Wilner... But don't listen to me. My taste could reside on another planet from yours.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Amy Smith

    This anthology was a sort of gateway into new American poetry for me. The poetry mix tape I didn't know I needed. I highly recommend it, especially for those who might also be looking for an introduction to more contemporary American poets. My reading list just got much longer. One of my favorite nuggets from Edward Hirsh's brief and insightful introduction: "Poetry gives us the logic of imagination. Neither a form of visual art nor a mode of music, it borders both, moving toward concrete visual This anthology was a sort of gateway into new American poetry for me. The poetry mix tape I didn't know I needed. I highly recommend it, especially for those who might also be looking for an introduction to more contemporary American poets. My reading list just got much longer. One of my favorite nuggets from Edward Hirsh's brief and insightful introduction: "Poetry gives us the logic of imagination. Neither a form of visual art nor a mode of music, it borders both, moving toward concrete visualizations on one side, the materiality of language (think of pattern poems), and soundscapes on the other, something meant to be listened to, heard, beyond language (think of wordless verse). It has elements of the fictive, the subjective, the irrational, and taps deep into the well of the unconscious." On repeat: Marianne Boruch, Denise Duhamel, Linda Gregerson, Ishion Hutchinson, John Koethe, Robin Coste Lewis, Morgan Parker.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Angela

    Finally got around to reading this. Yes, I'm over a year behind on my Best American Poetry...perhaps that's why this book seemed lackluster? I remember the collections from other years being much higher quality. I didn't care much for Edward Hirsch's long-winded introduction (although some parts of it were interesting) nor his choice of poems. I guess I'm supposed to simply smile and nod and say, "Ah, yes, how post-modern!" to all of the poems I don't like. There were some absolutely terrible po Finally got around to reading this. Yes, I'm over a year behind on my Best American Poetry...perhaps that's why this book seemed lackluster? I remember the collections from other years being much higher quality. I didn't care much for Edward Hirsch's long-winded introduction (although some parts of it were interesting) nor his choice of poems. I guess I'm supposed to simply smile and nod and say, "Ah, yes, how post-modern!" to all of the poems I don't like. There were some absolutely terrible poems. My least favourites were "32 Fantasy Football Teams" (a list of punny literary allusions), and "On the Certainty of Bryan" (Rambling story with gratuitous use of strikeout font!) There were some gems for sure, and I made a list of the fourteen poems I judged worth of a re-read, but overall I wasn't super thrilled with this installment of BAP.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Grayson

    As with most anthologies, hit-or-miss now and then, but a lot of winners here! My faves from this collection: -Whitman, 1841 by Rich Barot -How the Milky Way Was Made by Natalie Diaz -Humanity 101 by Denise Duhamel -My Life by Lynn Emanuel -A Drop of Seawater Under the Microscope by Amy Gerstler -Meet Me at the Lighthouse by Dana Gioia -Reading to My Father by Jorie Graham -Afterword by Jeffrey Harrison -Bible Study by Tony Hoagland (probably my favorite overall) -The Swimmer by John Koethe -Folding a Five As with most anthologies, hit-or-miss now and then, but a lot of winners here! My faves from this collection: -Whitman, 1841 by Rich Barot -How the Milky Way Was Made by Natalie Diaz -Humanity 101 by Denise Duhamel -My Life by Lynn Emanuel -A Drop of Seawater Under the Microscope by Amy Gerstler -Meet Me at the Lighthouse by Dana Gioia -Reading to My Father by Jorie Graham -Afterword by Jeffrey Harrison -Bible Study by Tony Hoagland (probably my favorite overall) -The Swimmer by John Koethe -Folding a Five-Cornered Star So the Corners Meet by Li-Young Lee -Psalm for the Lost by Paul Mariani (read this one out loud!) -The First Last Light in the Sky by Rowan Ricardo Phillips -Late Aubade by James Richardson -Maid Maleen by Anya Silver -What Piranesi Knew by Susan Stewart (also read this one out loud) -The Apology by Lee Upton

  20. 5 out of 5

    Rob Alexander

    A lot of winners in here... and also a lot losers. I understand some of these poets died this year, and some have famous names, which provides an explanation of why their poems are in this collection. An explanation, but not an excuse. I'm not sure what I expected. The nepotism of the literary world has always been rampant and pervasive, and if I was part of that system, I would no doubt be an equal offender. Still, I'm a conniving heathen who expects better than himself from the poets of today. A lot of winners in here... and also a lot losers. I understand some of these poets died this year, and some have famous names, which provides an explanation of why their poems are in this collection. An explanation, but not an excuse. I'm not sure what I expected. The nepotism of the literary world has always been rampant and pervasive, and if I was part of that system, I would no doubt be an equal offender. Still, I'm a conniving heathen who expects better than himself from the poets of today. Alas, I'm probably being too hard on the collection. Obviously there are many different styles, forms and talents presented here, so to have all of them please a person is near impossible. Plus, this collection could introduce readers to poets and literary magazines to explore further.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Tom Scott

    I've never been much of a poetry reader--I always read them too quickly and with too much impatience. But in a quest for self betterment I decided to pick this book up to see if I could change that. Each night, right before going to sleep I read one poem. I took it slow and reread if needed. Both these tactics seem to be the key. I didn't enjoy all the poems but some of them where very moving and powerful. I think this might be a new ritual for me.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jedediah Smith

    Four stars might be a bit high for a collection that will never rival the great anthologies of the past like Don Allen's New American Poetry, but this BAP is such a relief after Terrence Hayes' mediocre selection and Sherman Alexie's miserable batch. I regularly use these anthologies to introduce my college freshmen students to current poetry, and this year's model has a solid group of medium to good poems.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Grace

    It's difficult to write a review on an anthology. I feel as if they're all the same. Some poems I love, some I dislike, I'm indifferent to others, some I wish were longer, shorter, etc... But I enjoy reading poetry, if only to know there still beauty in the world, and this collection continues to remind me of the beauty.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Brian

    This is a perfectly adequate anthology of a fairly but not exceptionally broad range of styles and poetic approaches, buoyed by the inclusion of a handful of my favorite living poets. I’ve found more than a few poems I’ll take with me a while, but overall it’s a middle of the road installment for the series.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Pearse Anderson

    It's poetry! What can I say. I don't understand it. But some read really nice, and others did not seem notable at all. But they were all higher quality than regular poetry, so that was good. I learned a good bit about form and whatnot. So four stars. Wish I start "getting" poetry soon.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Lily

    This collection was disappointing! I wish I liked it more. I don't think I like the narrative and concrete and relatively bland confessional poems in here. A few were sparklers and vivid and interesting, but most I did not connect to or was impressed by at all!

  27. 4 out of 5

    James Holt

    There are some great poems in here, but there were others I just skimmed or skipped. My biggest takeaway from this read is that I realized that I prefer entire books of poetry written by one poet rather than a collection of individual poems by different poets.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    Eh... some of the poems were fun and some were inaccessible to my experience. It's always interesting to see what other poets consider to be the "best" poetry.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kayla

    another great collection of contemporary poetry with some standouts.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Mike Vial

    BAP 2016 is one of the most enjoyable anthologies of the series. Hirsch did well. I finished BAP 1997 last week, edited by James Tate. I loved his essay & most of his chosen pieces for that year, too. Tate died in July 2015, leaving one last poem to be considered for the BAP series, a peculiar work (which we came to expect from him) —a serendipitous reading experience for me. BAP 2016 is one of the most enjoyable anthologies of the series. Hirsch did well. I finished BAP 1997 last week, edited by James Tate. I loved his essay & most of his chosen pieces for that year, too. Tate died in July 2015, leaving one last poem to be considered for the BAP series, a peculiar work (which we came to expect from him) —a serendipitous reading experience for me.

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