Thursday, August 09, 2007


From August 2004:

I've been following the Best American Poetry series for 7 years. I have a complete set, something that's harder to acquire than you would think. I've also entered all the poets and contributing literary publications in a database, to make some sense of what poems get selected, and by whom, and why. I made a study of the results a couple of years ago, which, in retrospect, was both naive and accurate. I have a different view of BAP nowadays. I still believe that it's a snapshot of America's more interesting/noted/trendy poets, and not the American poetry per se. Having had a large fraction of a decade to digest the series, I'm beginning to come around to the notion that BAP does a good job of circumscribing the Big Tent. If you read five or six in a row, of course, which irons out the idiosyncracies of individual guest editors (e.g., the adored or despised BAP 2002).

I've just begun reading BAP 2004 seriously. Lyn Hejinian is this year's guest editor, which would lead some to believe that we were in for another round of Creeley's excesses. Not so, really. This year's model is an intriguing mix of the Same Old White Guys (e.g., Pinsky), the Rebel Contingent (e.g., O.K. Davis), the PoPoMo Crowd (e.g., Alice Notley), the Big Press Run Poets (e.g., Jane Hirshfield), the Deep Poets (e.g., Carl Phillips and Anne Carson), the Poets Who Refuse To Capitilize (e.g, kari edwards), and the Poets Whose Name Is Just Short Of Believable (e.g., Heidi Peppermint). And that's not all. There's Wagoner, Silliman, Stern, Addonizio, Koch, Dinh, and Burkard. For God's sake, there's even BC. Extra points to Ms. Hejinian for inserting Mary Jo Bang between Ashbery and Bernheimer. You have to hand it her for throwing together perhaps the most eclectic volume in the series' history.

And then three years later Whimsey still is speaking!

Just scrolling through the first couple of posts I find some hidden gems. Little links going to great places with little notice of where you are going, except that you are enticed to go there.


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