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Edited this year by acclaimed poet and writer Mark Doty, the foremost annual anthology of contemporary American poetry returns. Mark Doty brings the vitality and imagination that illuminate his own work to his selections for the twenty-fifth volume in the Best American Poetry series. He has chosen poems of high moral earnestness and poems in a comic register; poems that tel Edited this year by acclaimed poet and writer Mark Doty, the foremost annual anthology of contemporary American poetry returns. Mark Doty brings the vitality and imagination that illuminate his own work to his selections for the twenty-fifth volume in the Best American Poetry series. He has chosen poems of high moral earnestness and poems in a comic register; poems that tell stories and poems that test the boundaries of innovative composition. This landmark edition includes David Lehman’s keen look at American poetry in his foreword, Mark Doty’s gorgeous introduction, and notes from the poets revealing the germination of their work. Over the last twenty-five years, The Best American Poetry has become an annual rite of the poetry world, and this year’s anthology is a welcome and essential addition to the series. SHERMAN ALEXIE * KAREN LEONA ANDERSON * RAE ARMANTROUT * JULIANNA BAGGOTT * DAVID BAKER * RICK BAROTt REGINALD DWAYNE BETTS * FRANK BIDART * BRUCE BOND * STEPHANIE BROWN * ANNE CARSON * JENNIFER CHANG * JOSEPH CHAPMAN * HEATHER CHRISTLE * HENRI COLE * BILLY COLLINS * PETER COOLEY * EDUARDO C. CORRAL * ERICA DAWSON * STEPHEN DUNN * ELAINE EQUI * ROBERT GIBB * KATHLEEN GRABER * AMY GLYNN GREACEN * JAMES ALLEN HALL * TERRANCE HAYES * STEVEN HEIGHTON * BRENDA HILLMAN * JANE HIRSHFIELD * RICHARD HOWARD * MARIE HOWE * AMORAK HUEY * JENNY JOHNSON * LAWRENCE JOSEPH * FADY JOUDAH * JOY KATZ * JAMES KIMBRELL * NOELLE KOCOT * MAXINE KUMIN * SARAH LINDSAY * AMIT MAJMUDAR * DAVID MASON * KERRIN McCADDEN * HONOR MOORE * MICHAEL MORSE * CAROL MUSKE-DUKES * ANGELO NIKOLOPOULOS * MARY OLIVER * STEVE ORLEN * ALICIA OSTRIKER * ERIC PANKEY * LUCIA PERILLO * ROBERT PINSKY * DEAN RADER * SPENCER REECE * PAISLEY REKDAL * MARY RUEFLE * DON RUSS * KAY RYAN * MARY JO SALTER * LYNNE SHARON SCHWARTZ * FREDERICK SEIDEL * BRENDA SHAUGHNESSY * PETER JAY SHIPPY * TRACY K. SMITH * BRUCE SNIDER * MARK STRAND * LARISSA SZPORLUK * DANIEL TOBIN * NATASHA TRETHEWEY * SUSAN WHEELER * FRANZ WRIGHT * DAVID YEZZI * DEAN YOUNG * KEVIN YOUNG


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Edited this year by acclaimed poet and writer Mark Doty, the foremost annual anthology of contemporary American poetry returns. Mark Doty brings the vitality and imagination that illuminate his own work to his selections for the twenty-fifth volume in the Best American Poetry series. He has chosen poems of high moral earnestness and poems in a comic register; poems that tel Edited this year by acclaimed poet and writer Mark Doty, the foremost annual anthology of contemporary American poetry returns. Mark Doty brings the vitality and imagination that illuminate his own work to his selections for the twenty-fifth volume in the Best American Poetry series. He has chosen poems of high moral earnestness and poems in a comic register; poems that tell stories and poems that test the boundaries of innovative composition. This landmark edition includes David Lehman’s keen look at American poetry in his foreword, Mark Doty’s gorgeous introduction, and notes from the poets revealing the germination of their work. Over the last twenty-five years, The Best American Poetry has become an annual rite of the poetry world, and this year’s anthology is a welcome and essential addition to the series. SHERMAN ALEXIE * KAREN LEONA ANDERSON * RAE ARMANTROUT * JULIANNA BAGGOTT * DAVID BAKER * RICK BAROTt REGINALD DWAYNE BETTS * FRANK BIDART * BRUCE BOND * STEPHANIE BROWN * ANNE CARSON * JENNIFER CHANG * JOSEPH CHAPMAN * HEATHER CHRISTLE * HENRI COLE * BILLY COLLINS * PETER COOLEY * EDUARDO C. CORRAL * ERICA DAWSON * STEPHEN DUNN * ELAINE EQUI * ROBERT GIBB * KATHLEEN GRABER * AMY GLYNN GREACEN * JAMES ALLEN HALL * TERRANCE HAYES * STEVEN HEIGHTON * BRENDA HILLMAN * JANE HIRSHFIELD * RICHARD HOWARD * MARIE HOWE * AMORAK HUEY * JENNY JOHNSON * LAWRENCE JOSEPH * FADY JOUDAH * JOY KATZ * JAMES KIMBRELL * NOELLE KOCOT * MAXINE KUMIN * SARAH LINDSAY * AMIT MAJMUDAR * DAVID MASON * KERRIN McCADDEN * HONOR MOORE * MICHAEL MORSE * CAROL MUSKE-DUKES * ANGELO NIKOLOPOULOS * MARY OLIVER * STEVE ORLEN * ALICIA OSTRIKER * ERIC PANKEY * LUCIA PERILLO * ROBERT PINSKY * DEAN RADER * SPENCER REECE * PAISLEY REKDAL * MARY RUEFLE * DON RUSS * KAY RYAN * MARY JO SALTER * LYNNE SHARON SCHWARTZ * FREDERICK SEIDEL * BRENDA SHAUGHNESSY * PETER JAY SHIPPY * TRACY K. SMITH * BRUCE SNIDER * MARK STRAND * LARISSA SZPORLUK * DANIEL TOBIN * NATASHA TRETHEWEY * SUSAN WHEELER * FRANZ WRIGHT * DAVID YEZZI * DEAN YOUNG * KEVIN YOUNG

30 review for The Best American Poetry, 2012

  1. 4 out of 5

    Roger Brunyate

      Outside a Jeweler’s For four weeks now, I've kept this by my bed to sample now and then, as in a jeweler's. Not each a gem, but many gleams among them: this sudden apercu, that striking thought, some perfect shape in miniature, a fall of tears, a starburst splash of radiance like lovers' laughter. Addictive too: I'll just read five tonight—but then I turn the page and find another and another…. Not trinkets, words. Eighty-five poets, alphabetical from Elizabeth Alexander at a game of tennis, watching an   Outside a Jeweler’s For four weeks now, I've kept this by my bed to sample now and then, as in a jeweler's. Not each a gem, but many gleams among them: this sudden apercu, that striking thought, some perfect shape in miniature, a fall of tears, a starburst splash of radiance like lovers' laughter. Addictive too: I'll just read five tonight—but then I turn the page and find another and another…. Not trinkets, words. Eighty-five poets, alphabetical from Elizabeth Alexander at a game of tennis, watching an athlete who's yet to feel the world's full weight upon his shoulders, to Stephen Yenser, taking leave at leisure in a lingering Cycladic idyll. Such well-known names as Ashbery, Alexie, Paul Muldoon, laureates like Collins, Pinsky, Strand, and Richard Wilbur (more, but they don't fit my meter), mingle here with younger voices… Bridget Lowe, whose love-song to the world includes a desert wish to "shrivel up like worms, becoming tongues for other people to kiss with." K. A. Hays, who gives the tortured soil a voice. Katha Pollitt, imagining the downtime of disenchanted angels. Bob Hicock, an environmentalist first picking on BP, now picks apart the oil-stained operation of his soul. How best to shill for such a store of treasures? I'd bring them out to show you if I could. But no. Since imitation is at least a form of flattery, I'm forced to flaunt the lyric passion they've unleashed in me, set up my sidewalk stall of paste and tinsel, pale intimations of the riches there within.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jon Corelis

    Is this really the best we can do? The title, of course, makes a claim. What's depressing about this book is that the claim may well have some validity: this collection of polished, generally competent, too often lackluster and conventional (though with a few interesting experiments in innovative diction or form), and almost totally academic verse, may well be the best that American poetry is currently capable of. Or at least, establishment American poetry. For this is very definitely an antholog Is this really the best we can do? The title, of course, makes a claim. What's depressing about this book is that the claim may well have some validity: this collection of polished, generally competent, too often lackluster and conventional (though with a few interesting experiments in innovative diction or form), and almost totally academic verse, may well be the best that American poetry is currently capable of. Or at least, establishment American poetry. For this is very definitely an anthology of establishment poetry, that is, the poetry that is coming out of college and university creative writing programs. The biographical notes on the seventy five poets selected indicate that, by my count, at least three out of four of them are college or university teachers, almost always in Creative Writing or English; most of the rest don't list a profession, and I suspect that many of these also teach but are understandably embarrassed to admit it (Oh no, not another one!), so that the academic presence is probably more like ninety percent. It's unsurprising, then, that the poems included are disproportionately drawn from the "right" establishment journals, the one everyone in the academy wants to get on their resumes: again by my count, well over half the poems are from the six journals Poetry, The Cincinnati Review, The New Yorker, The New England Review, The American Poetry Review, and Ploughshares. And it's equally unsurprising that most of them read like creative writing seminar exercises. A facet of the book that may interest those reading this on the internet is that, although we are now well into an age when vastly more poetry in English, both old and new, is available to the average person on the internet than in print journals, so far as this book is concerned, all that poetry might as well not exist. Apparently, the definition of best includes a qualification that poems must have been among the what - 10 percent? 5 percent? 1 percent? - of poems created and presented to the public in 2012, not on line, but in conventional print journals, and only in a relative handful of those. Recommendation: a fascinating if discouraging book for anyone seriously interested in the state of current American poetry, though it will not in my opinion be worth attention if you have no such interest. I will say, though, that you will find this book invaluable if you aspire to an academic career as a poet: the selections will show you how you are supposed to write, the list of journals will show you where you are supposed to publish, and the list of poets included will show you whom you are supposed to impress.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Peycho Kanev

    Sonnet of Exemplary Sentences From the Chapter Pertaining to the Nature of Pronouns in Emile Benveniste’s Problems in General Linguistics (Paris 1966) This time I forgive you but I shall not forgive you again. I observe that he forgives you but he will not forgive you again. Although I eat this fish I don’t know its name. Spirits watch over the soul of course. I suppose and I presume. I pose and I resume. I suppose I have a horse. How in the world can you afford this house I said and she said I had a goo Sonnet of Exemplary Sentences From the Chapter Pertaining to the Nature of Pronouns in Emile Benveniste’s Problems in General Linguistics (Paris 1966) This time I forgive you but I shall not forgive you again. I observe that he forgives you but he will not forgive you again. Although I eat this fish I don’t know its name. Spirits watch over the soul of course. I suppose and I presume. I pose and I resume. I suppose I have a horse. How in the world can you afford this house I said and she said I had a good divorce. Strangers are warned that here there is a fierce, fast dog. Whores have no business getting lost in the fog. Is it to your ears or your soul that my voice is intolerable? Whether Florinda lays a hand on his knee or his voluble, he pleads a headache and the narrator concludes, The problem is insoluble. ANNE CARSON

  4. 4 out of 5

    Melissa T

    Well written, meaningful, interesting poetry gently floats off the page, as if swaying to an unknown music, and glides right into your soul. Although I can't say that I enjoyed all of the messages being shared in this book, and certainly not all of them spoke to my soul, this collection helped me remember how much I love reading poetry, and what a personal experience it is. For me, poetry, when done well, does not need the shock value of vulgar language or sexual innuendo. Perhaps my idea of po Well written, meaningful, interesting poetry gently floats off the page, as if swaying to an unknown music, and glides right into your soul. Although I can't say that I enjoyed all of the messages being shared in this book, and certainly not all of them spoke to my soul, this collection helped me remember how much I love reading poetry, and what a personal experience it is. For me, poetry, when done well, does not need the shock value of vulgar language or sexual innuendo. Perhaps my idea of poetry is stuck in the 19th century? My biggest complaint with modern poetry is it doesn't come with a reliable rating system. So, I retreat back to the woods, with my Thoreau or Whitman, and leave the 21st century behind.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

    So unimpressed. I can't believe that out of all the poetry published in 2012, someone considered these the best. A very quick read for me, and not for a good reason. There was nothing I wanted to linger over or re-read, nothing I marked because I knew I would want to come back to it. So unimpressed. I can't believe that out of all the poetry published in 2012, someone considered these the best. A very quick read for me, and not for a good reason. There was nothing I wanted to linger over or re-read, nothing I marked because I knew I would want to come back to it.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Nina

    I buy the BAP every year. I particularly enjoy that the poets write a little blurb about the poem in their bio.In recent years, I buy it as much for the intro and foreword, as the majority of the poetry has not grabbed me. David Lehman’s foreword is always insightful and interesting. This year’s guest editor, Mark Doty, is a writer whom I’ve always enjoyed. His nonfiction is richly detailed, and his poetry engages me. I was eager to read his thoughts on the state of contemporary poetry; however, I buy the BAP every year. I particularly enjoy that the poets write a little blurb about the poem in their bio.In recent years, I buy it as much for the intro and foreword, as the majority of the poetry has not grabbed me. David Lehman’s foreword is always insightful and interesting. This year’s guest editor, Mark Doty, is a writer whom I’ve always enjoyed. His nonfiction is richly detailed, and his poetry engages me. I was eager to read his thoughts on the state of contemporary poetry; however, I found the first 2/3 of his introduction incomprehensible. I struggled through to the end, where he writes: The reader who turns to poetry in order to find some music that echoes what we can’t say, to read the inscription of our common lot, to be challenged and engaged, to be less alone, to be startled awake. Finally, I thought. This is what poetry is all about; this is what poetry means to me. I began reading the poems, looking for the music. My usual routine for this type of anthology is to read only a few poems at a time, to think and digest, rather than to race through. I found it all too easy to put this book down after 2 or 3 poems and not pick it up again for a few days. Overall, the poems did not sing, did not dance or shimmer, did not cry out to me. A few poems stand out, call me back. James Allen Hall, in “One Train’s Survival Depends on the Other Derailed,” holds me with lines such as: we walk a greasy sidewalk to a private courtyard, he kisses me and the world goes magnolia, Bruce Snider’s magnificent poem, “The Drag Queen Dies in New Castle,” snagged me with the title. The poem speaks about a gay man coming home to a rural area to die. Snider weaves the details of the drag queen through the reality of rural life in an understated way. but the church women bought your wigs for the Christmas pageant that year, your blouses sewn into a quilt under which Kevin Young writes of the doctor trying to find the baby’s heartbeat early in a pregnancy. As the doctor is unable to locate the heartbeat, tension builds with unique images and metaphors. The poem ends with a triumphant description: Only later, much, will your mother begin to believe your drumming in the distance-my Kansas City and Congo Square, this jazz band vamping on inside her. (Expecting)

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kristin

    Such an interesting experience with reading this - my first time reading an anthology cover-to-cover. It was fascinating to see which themes seemed to come up again and again, and how many new poets I discovered through the reading. I especially loved: Barot, Betts, Bidart, Cole, Cooley, Majmudar, Morse, Rekdal, Schwartz, Snider, Strand, and Wright.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Ruth

    I love Mark Doty's writing, both poetry and prose, so I was excited that he was the editor of this collection. Let's just say I was disappointed. Doty's usually clear and limpid prose got lost somewhere on its way to the introduction, which I couldn't wade all the way through. As for the poems, not wild about the selection either. I love Mark Doty's writing, both poetry and prose, so I was excited that he was the editor of this collection. Let's just say I was disappointed. Doty's usually clear and limpid prose got lost somewhere on its way to the introduction, which I couldn't wade all the way through. As for the poems, not wild about the selection either.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Sue

    This wasn't my favorite Best American Poetry year. I expected better since Mark Doty was the editor. Reading the two super-long poems really felt like I was plowing through mud to finish them. This wasn't my favorite Best American Poetry year. I expected better since Mark Doty was the editor. Reading the two super-long poems really felt like I was plowing through mud to finish them.

  10. 5 out of 5

    James

    There are some interesting threads in this collection. Flowers come up lots. There's a poem called "Daffodil" by Angelo Nikolopoulos (a funny, catty, gay poem) and another poem that begins with the line, "The daffodils can go fuck themselves." (This is Jennifer Chang's "Dorothy Wordsworth," perhaps my favorite poem in the book.) Two of the seventy-five poems in the anthology are titled "Sunflower." One of them, "Helianthus annuus (Sunflower)" by Amy Glynn Greacen, distinguishes itself with an or There are some interesting threads in this collection. Flowers come up lots. There's a poem called "Daffodil" by Angelo Nikolopoulos (a funny, catty, gay poem) and another poem that begins with the line, "The daffodils can go fuck themselves." (This is Jennifer Chang's "Dorothy Wordsworth," perhaps my favorite poem in the book.) Two of the seventy-five poems in the anthology are titled "Sunflower." One of them, "Helianthus annuus (Sunflower)" by Amy Glynn Greacen, distinguishes itself with an original formal conceit; it uses the Fibonacci sequence to determine its stanzas' line numbers (a monostich, then a couplet, a tercet, a cinquain, an octet, and finally a 13-line not-quite-sonnet). A lot of the poems are by gay poets and/or about gay issues. It's a good collection of poems, but it doesn't quite live up to the series title. In terms of where the poems came from, there are some strange over-representations. Of course, The New Yorker and Poetry provide plenty. Seven are from The Cincinnati Review, a relatively small journal, which would be great if all seven were knockouts. My favorite of these is "For Furious Nursing Baby" ("Frothy and pink as a rabid pig you"). The other six are all competent, fine poems, but of the sort you expect to see in any good journal. All in all, not enough of the poems, regardless of their source, really stand out as poems that you'll remember beyond the first reading. This has been pointed out before, but the two longest poems in the book (Spencer Reece's "The Road to Emmaus" and Paisley Rekdal's "Wax") are placed back to back by alphabetical coincidence. Again, that'd be fine if both poems really earned their place. They're good, but the former is a bit prosy and the latter a bit convoluted. Reading one after another can be a slog. I would not start your BAP reading with this installment, even if you do like Mark Doty, but if you're someone who wants to read them all, it's a perfectly fine experience, with a few real standouts, as there always are. It just doesn't really add up to more than the sum of its parts.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Tristan

    A gentle and solid installment in the Best American Poetry series. I found most of this collection somewhat underwhelming, but it also had shockingly few pieces that I actually disliked. Instead, I just sort of floated through it, slowly moving along with little strong reaction of any kind. I felt like I marked fewer poems than usual well, but gave more "it was pretty good" marks and was less enthusiastic about the good marks and rarely felt certain whether no mark or pretty good was a better re A gentle and solid installment in the Best American Poetry series. I found most of this collection somewhat underwhelming, but it also had shockingly few pieces that I actually disliked. Instead, I just sort of floated through it, slowly moving along with little strong reaction of any kind. I felt like I marked fewer poems than usual well, but gave more "it was pretty good" marks and was less enthusiastic about the good marks and rarely felt certain whether no mark or pretty good was a better representation of my feelings about the piece. It was readable and accessible--a nice first volume for someone who doesn't know the series or isn't sure if they like poetry but thinks they probably do. I wasn't raving about it (a bit of a disappointment, since I have raved about Doty's own work previously) but there also was nothing wrong with it either. My favorite poems were Sherman Alexie's "Terminal Nostalgia", Frank Bidart's "Of His Bones Are Coral Made", Anne Carson's "Sonnet of Exemplary Sentences from the Chapter Pertaining to the Nature of Pronouns in Emile Benveniste's Problems in General Linguistics (Paris 1966)", Joseph Chapman's "Sparrow", Peter Cooley's "More Than Twice, More Than I Can Count", Eduardo C. Corral's "To the Angelbeast", Kathleen Graber's "Self-Portrait with No Internal Navigation", Terrance Hayes's "The Rose Has Teeth", Brenda Hillman's "Moaning Action at the Gas Pump", Marie Howe's "Magdalene--The Seven Devils" (which I had already read in Magdalene: Poems for school), and Mary Ruefle's "Middle School". Many of the rest of the poems sort of just missed for me and even the rest of the really good ones were a little lacking. Solid, readable poems, there's something very "correct" about this collection, but it's lacking in wow-factor as a result.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Hours

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Personal favourite moments: "the discoball moon says to the lake. Don't miss me says a boy to the plastic partition, the snow melting down his face in tracks, in February, on a night stricken at last of starlight, shocked dumb, night with its shovel and its covering dark." One Train's Survival Depends on the Other Derailed - James Allen Hall "you give up the ocean floor for a mouthful of land." How to Tie a Knot - James Kimbrell "I am a man because I make others suffer in my place?" Wax - Paisley Rekdal "Thi Personal favourite moments: "the discoball moon says to the lake. Don't miss me says a boy to the plastic partition, the snow melting down his face in tracks, in February, on a night stricken at last of starlight, shocked dumb, night with its shovel and its covering dark." One Train's Survival Depends on the Other Derailed - James Allen Hall "you give up the ocean floor for a mouthful of land." How to Tie a Knot - James Kimbrell "I am a man because I make others suffer in my place?" Wax - Paisley Rekdal "This is what death means, my child, this is how we pass eternity, looking" The Afterlife - Lynne Sharon Schwartz

  13. 5 out of 5

    Rachella

    A book which lives up to it's title. Each poem is brilliant in its own way. It can serve as a quick read or a daily read, depending on how much you want to take on each day. As a writer, I also found quite a few lines of brilliant texts to encourage future writing A book which lives up to it's title. Each poem is brilliant in its own way. It can serve as a quick read or a daily read, depending on how much you want to take on each day. As a writer, I also found quite a few lines of brilliant texts to encourage future writing

  14. 5 out of 5

    Rudolph

    An interesting read to say the least. Full of interesting contemporary poems that are so tangible you really visualize them. There's even an index in the back that tells you the poets inspiration for the poem, but I don't use it because its cheating. An interesting read to say the least. Full of interesting contemporary poems that are so tangible you really visualize them. There's even an index in the back that tells you the poets inspiration for the poem, but I don't use it because its cheating.

  15. 4 out of 5

    B.

    Overall, I would give this collection a B average (technically an 85.2% 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 have not read too many modern poetry anthologies, but I am starting to do so for two reasons. First, to narrow down my own literary tastes. Overall, I would give this collection a B average (technically an 85.2% 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 have not read too many modern poetry anthologies, but I am starting to do so for two reasons. First, to narrow down my own literary tastes. Second, to improve my own poetry and eventually find a more distinct voice. I find myself in the habit of simply imitating the voices of the poets that I am inspired by from week to week. On the whole, Mark Doty's selections were predictably... fine. There was a consistent string of poems that earned simple B grades, a small handful of C range poems, and only a minority of pieces that earned a B+ and over. Although the average was better than at least two of the other collections (2013 and 2015) but the experience of reading them was much less interesting on account of the similarity of the voices selected. Theory: A disparity in quality and taste leads to a more intriguing reading experience of a BAP than the bland consistency of a Doty-like editor. This is not to suggest that Doty is not an accomplished poet or that he has bad taste. The following are my favorites from this collection: Masterpieces (7) "The Imagined" by Stephen Dunn "Collision" by Steven Heighton "Void and Compensation (Facebook)" by Michael Morse "Hate Mail" by Carol Muske-Dukes "Song" by Alicia Ostriker "The Mysterious Arrival of an Unusual Letter" by Mark Strand "Expecting" by Kevin Young Masterful (8) "For Furious Nursing Baby" by Julianna Baggot "Delivery" by Billy Collins "Tenor" by Fady Joudah "Either Or" by Maxine Kumin "Mrs. Mason and the Poets" by David Mason "In Provincetown, and Ohio, and Alabama" by Mary Oliver "Where Do We Go After We Die" by Steve Orlen "The Afterlife" by Lynne Sharon Schwartz Masters Candidates (9) "Child Holding Potato" by Rick Barot "BASIC" by Heather Christle "More Than Twice, More Than I Can Count" by Peter Cooley "Helianthus annuus (Sunflower)" by Amy Glynn Greacen "A Proposed Curriculum Change" by Richard Howard "Hollow Boom Soft Chime: The Thai Elephant Orchestra" by Sarah Lindsay "Playacting" by Kay Ryan "Minding Rites" by David Yezzi "Restoration Ode" by Dean Young Overall, I would absolutely to highly recommend approx. 32% of the poems contained in this volume.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jacob

    I was disappointed to see, glancing at the TOC, that I'd already heard of 90% of the poets chosen. Nonetheless, there's no particular aesthetic/style dominating Mark Doty's choices. The forward and intro both fall flat and feel cursory. I liked about 8 of the 75 poems, which is a pretty normal ratio for me. Here's a line from each of the one's I like: From Frederick Seidel's "Rain": "They open black umbrellas and put on yellow slickers/and weep sugar like honeybees dying of the bee disease." From I was disappointed to see, glancing at the TOC, that I'd already heard of 90% of the poets chosen. Nonetheless, there's no particular aesthetic/style dominating Mark Doty's choices. The forward and intro both fall flat and feel cursory. I liked about 8 of the 75 poems, which is a pretty normal ratio for me. Here's a line from each of the one's I like: From Frederick Seidel's "Rain": "They open black umbrellas and put on yellow slickers/and weep sugar like honeybees dying of the bee disease." From Spencer Reece's "The Road to Emmaus": "The Charles advanced, determined as a hearse,/its dark waters gathering up every unattached thing." From David Mason's "Mrs. Mason and the Poets": "And he: 'Lost friends? Then I should pour the wine.'" From Noelle Kocot's "Poem": "Blessed are we who rapture/an electric wire,/blessed be/the falling things about our faces,'blessed is the socket of an eye/that lights the body, because/in the end, in the very end, it's/just you. You and you. And you." From James Kimbrell's "How to Tie a Knot": "Now the sand crane dive-bombs the surf/of his own enlightenment because everything/is bait and lust and hard-up for supper." From Stephen Dunn's "The Imagined": "Hasn't the time come,//once again, not to talk about it?" From Henri Cole's "Broom": "hands that once opened, closed, rolled, unrolled, rerolled, folded, unfolded/turned, and returned..." From Reginald Dwayne Betts' "At the End of Life, a Secret": "The soul: less than/4,000 dollars' worth of crack-22 grams-/all that moves you through this world."

  17. 5 out of 5

    Marlin Jenkins

    Of course, the idea that the "best" poems in a year can be compiled into a book has an inherent ridiculousness to it; however, I think the role this series plays is an important one. It gives poets and journals something to strive for: a badge of prestige and legitimacy, to be deemed as the "best." And more importantly, I enjoy the ability to have a cursory glance at what the top-tier journals in a given year are publishing. That said, this collection left me mostly bored and frustrated. A small Of course, the idea that the "best" poems in a year can be compiled into a book has an inherent ridiculousness to it; however, I think the role this series plays is an important one. It gives poets and journals something to strive for: a badge of prestige and legitimacy, to be deemed as the "best." And more importantly, I enjoy the ability to have a cursory glance at what the top-tier journals in a given year are publishing. That said, this collection left me mostly bored and frustrated. A small handful of poems caught me as excellent, as ones I bookmarked to return to and re-read, ones worth anthologizing; these poems were few are far between. Most of the poems in this book I felt to be uninteresting and forgettable--and pretentious: characterized often by lofty abstract ideas, meta-poetic elements, and dry narrative. I found myself often questioning the inclusion of the poems. Sure, they were polished and had interesting form, but I felt many of the poems lacked nuanced voice and fresh language, lacked the oomph that would make me read it over and over and wish I had written it. I found lines and ideas that I really liked, but very few poems that struck me as something new, exemplary, and unforgettable.

  18. 4 out of 5

    SmarterLilac

    Really enjoyed this one. I was pleased and surprised to find it absent of the extreme displays of emotion usually present in these collections. I also liked that it appeared to be absent of Topical Cultural Statements, the only thing I really don't like about the Best American Poetry anthologies. Despite the subtle nature of these poems, guest editor Mark Doty leaves his mark with them--including a nice piece or two about LGBTIQ living, like the charming 'The Drag Queen Dies in New Castle.' Not o Really enjoyed this one. I was pleased and surprised to find it absent of the extreme displays of emotion usually present in these collections. I also liked that it appeared to be absent of Topical Cultural Statements, the only thing I really don't like about the Best American Poetry anthologies. Despite the subtle nature of these poems, guest editor Mark Doty leaves his mark with them--including a nice piece or two about LGBTIQ living, like the charming 'The Drag Queen Dies in New Castle.' Not one, but two poems about sunflowers was a little odd, though. And it was nice to see my beloved Marie Howe and Robert Pinsky pop up in here, as well as the ever excellent Kevin Young. Doty even included Frederick Seidel's 'Rain,' which tickled me pink, as it jumped right out at me from a copy The New Yorker back in early '11. I'm happy this series is still going strong.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Ann

    Because I studied with Mark Doty at SLC, I kind of knew what to expect with this newest Best American Poetry title. The series is always interesting, and, of course, subjective. I think this one is a little better than average. The volume starts and ends with two beauties: Sherman Alexie's ghazal "Terminal Nostalgia" ("Before Columubus, eagle feathers/ Lived in the moment. So did the weather.") and Kevin Young's "Expecting" ("You are like hearing/ hip hop for the first time--power highjacked fro Because I studied with Mark Doty at SLC, I kind of knew what to expect with this newest Best American Poetry title. The series is always interesting, and, of course, subjective. I think this one is a little better than average. The volume starts and ends with two beauties: Sherman Alexie's ghazal "Terminal Nostalgia" ("Before Columubus, eagle feathers/ Lived in the moment. So did the weather.") and Kevin Young's "Expecting" ("You are like hearing/ hip hop for the first time--power highjacked from a lamppost--all promise."). I remembered how good Robert Pinsky can be with his "Improvisations on Yiddish." The poet uses phonetic Yiddish (as he heard it as a boy) to great effect. "Avek fun mir, Ich bob dich in bud. I see you/ Completely. Naked. I've got you in my pocket."

  20. 5 out of 5

    Brian

    I took an unintended break from the series after reading BAP 2011, one of my favorites so far, about a year ago. BAP 2012 did not mark a triumphant return for me. This may have been my least favorite that I've read; I felt that only about half a dozen were poems that I hadn't read countless times before. Those six or so made the entire experience worthwhile, but on the whole I wasn't impressed with Mark Doty's selections. I took an unintended break from the series after reading BAP 2011, one of my favorites so far, about a year ago. BAP 2012 did not mark a triumphant return for me. This may have been my least favorite that I've read; I felt that only about half a dozen were poems that I hadn't read countless times before. Those six or so made the entire experience worthwhile, but on the whole I wasn't impressed with Mark Doty's selections.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Patti K

    This volume is a wide variety of poems from both well-known and lesser-known poets. It begins with a Sherman Alexie poem entitled, "Terminal Nostalgia." Also included are Henri Cole, Eduardo Corral, Terence Hayes, Lucia Perillo, Kay Ryan, and Dean Young. I very much enjoyed reading this assortment from the year's best contributions to poetry journals and magazines. This volume is a wide variety of poems from both well-known and lesser-known poets. It begins with a Sherman Alexie poem entitled, "Terminal Nostalgia." Also included are Henri Cole, Eduardo Corral, Terence Hayes, Lucia Perillo, Kay Ryan, and Dean Young. I very much enjoyed reading this assortment from the year's best contributions to poetry journals and magazines.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Antonia

    Disappointed this year. The poems I liked best: Stephen Dunn, "The Imagined" Robert Pinsky, "Improvisations on Yiddish" (It might have helped that I have heard him talk about the writing of the poem, what it's about, what it means to him.) Dean Young, "Restoration Ode" Kevin Young, "Expecting" Disappointed this year. The poems I liked best: Stephen Dunn, "The Imagined" Robert Pinsky, "Improvisations on Yiddish" (It might have helped that I have heard him talk about the writing of the poem, what it's about, what it means to him.) Dean Young, "Restoration Ode" Kevin Young, "Expecting"

  23. 5 out of 5

    David Gallin-Parisi

    Not that experimental, pleasingly accessible and poignant writing. Mark Doty's introduction is worth reading alone. "Sing me something". So this collection feels like a rocking, thoughtful, soothing collection of writers singing something down to paper. Up to paper? Favorite poems: Julianna Baggott's "For Furious Nursing Baby" and Sherman Alexie's "Terminal Nostalgia". Not that experimental, pleasingly accessible and poignant writing. Mark Doty's introduction is worth reading alone. "Sing me something". So this collection feels like a rocking, thoughtful, soothing collection of writers singing something down to paper. Up to paper? Favorite poems: Julianna Baggott's "For Furious Nursing Baby" and Sherman Alexie's "Terminal Nostalgia".

  24. 5 out of 5

    C

    Another disappointing volume, in my opinion. Very few poems really struck me emotionally or intellectually. The two major standouts for me were Marie Howe and James Allen Hall (I immediately ordered a book of his after reading and rereading his fantastic poem). Maybe I'm getting more bitter as I age, but I'm feeling more and more jaded with the BAP choices lately. Another disappointing volume, in my opinion. Very few poems really struck me emotionally or intellectually. The two major standouts for me were Marie Howe and James Allen Hall (I immediately ordered a book of his after reading and rereading his fantastic poem). Maybe I'm getting more bitter as I age, but I'm feeling more and more jaded with the BAP choices lately.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jedediah Smith

    I regularly use these collections to create poetry readers for my freshman college students. Some collections are pretty good, some are not. This one collects the least formally interesting batch I have seen. Some of the content is interesting, but very few poems do much with their language that the students can explore.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Juliana Gray

    There are some great poems here by Erica Dawson, James Kimbrell, Mary Jo Salter, David Yezzi, Mark Strand and others, but there's also a lot that's only so-so. These yearly anthologies are always uneven, but at least this year's collection has some life in it. There are some great poems here by Erica Dawson, James Kimbrell, Mary Jo Salter, David Yezzi, Mark Strand and others, but there's also a lot that's only so-so. These yearly anthologies are always uneven, but at least this year's collection has some life in it.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Lynette

    There are some wonderful poems in this edition. I particularly love Terrance Hayes' "The Rose Has Teeth," Honor Moore's "Song," Spencer Reece's "The Road to Emmaus," and Julianna Baggott's "For Furious Nursing Baby." There are some wonderful poems in this edition. I particularly love Terrance Hayes' "The Rose Has Teeth," Honor Moore's "Song," Spencer Reece's "The Road to Emmaus," and Julianna Baggott's "For Furious Nursing Baby."

  28. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    I liked some, I didn't like others. There are even a few poets that I will be looking into further at my local library. I just wish the author note for each of the poems had been placed directly after the poem. I do enjoy reading those, and I got annoyed having to flip back and forth. I liked some, I didn't like others. There are even a few poets that I will be looking into further at my local library. I just wish the author note for each of the poems had been placed directly after the poem. I do enjoy reading those, and I got annoyed having to flip back and forth.

  29. 4 out of 5

    J.

    20 of these poems are good enough to re-read. About 5 good enough to read out loud to someone else. That's really not bad for one of these anthologies. Snag a used copy of this one--as long as you're not paying full price, you won't be disappointed. 20 of these poems are good enough to re-read. About 5 good enough to read out loud to someone else. That's really not bad for one of these anthologies. Snag a used copy of this one--as long as you're not paying full price, you won't be disappointed.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Neil Grayson

    More than one of these poems made me stop mid-stride. More than one of these poems made me rethink what a poem can do, and what qualifies as "good." Also allowed me to feel close to James Hall again. Can't ask for much more than that. More than one of these poems made me stop mid-stride. More than one of these poems made me rethink what a poem can do, and what qualifies as "good." Also allowed me to feel close to James Hall again. Can't ask for much more than that.

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