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The Best American Poetry 2019

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The 2019 edition of The Best American Poetry—“one of the mainstays of the poetry publication world” (Academy of American Poets)—now guest edited by Major Jackson, award-winning poet and poetry editor of the Harvard Review. Since 1988, The Best American Poetry has been the leading anthology of contemporary American poetry. The Washington Post said of the 2017 edition, “The p The 2019 edition of The Best American Poetry—“one of the mainstays of the poetry publication world” (Academy of American Poets)—now guest edited by Major Jackson, award-winning poet and poetry editor of the Harvard Review. Since 1988, The Best American Poetry has been the leading anthology of contemporary American poetry. The Washington Post said of the 2017 edition, “The poems...have a wonderful cohesion and flow, as if each contributes to a larger narrative about life today…While readers may question some of the selections—an annual sport with this series—most will find much that resonates, including the insightful author notes at the back of the anthology.” The state of the world has inspired many to write poetry, and to read it—to share all the rage, beauty, and every other thing under the sun in the way that only poetry can. Now the foremost anthology of contemporary American poetry returns, guest edited by Major Jackson, the poet and editor who, “makes poems that rumble and rock” (poet Dorianne Laux). This brilliant 2019 edition includes some of the year’s most defining, striking, and innovative poems and poets.


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The 2019 edition of The Best American Poetry—“one of the mainstays of the poetry publication world” (Academy of American Poets)—now guest edited by Major Jackson, award-winning poet and poetry editor of the Harvard Review. Since 1988, The Best American Poetry has been the leading anthology of contemporary American poetry. The Washington Post said of the 2017 edition, “The p The 2019 edition of The Best American Poetry—“one of the mainstays of the poetry publication world” (Academy of American Poets)—now guest edited by Major Jackson, award-winning poet and poetry editor of the Harvard Review. Since 1988, The Best American Poetry has been the leading anthology of contemporary American poetry. The Washington Post said of the 2017 edition, “The poems...have a wonderful cohesion and flow, as if each contributes to a larger narrative about life today…While readers may question some of the selections—an annual sport with this series—most will find much that resonates, including the insightful author notes at the back of the anthology.” The state of the world has inspired many to write poetry, and to read it—to share all the rage, beauty, and every other thing under the sun in the way that only poetry can. Now the foremost anthology of contemporary American poetry returns, guest edited by Major Jackson, the poet and editor who, “makes poems that rumble and rock” (poet Dorianne Laux). This brilliant 2019 edition includes some of the year’s most defining, striking, and innovative poems and poets.

30 review for The Best American Poetry 2019

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jenny (Reading Envy)

    I have to give this anthology 5 stars because the best in it is surely 5 stars, and if not to me, to someone else. My main source of conflict is that I find I need the series editor or even this volume editor to define their use of the word "American." I assumed USA, since that is the fairly standard use of American on its own, while acknowledging that this has always been problematic. But two fairly prominent Canadians appear in these pages - Margaret Atwood and Leonard Cohen. Margaret is known I have to give this anthology 5 stars because the best in it is surely 5 stars, and if not to me, to someone else. My main source of conflict is that I find I need the series editor or even this volume editor to define their use of the word "American." I assumed USA, since that is the fairly standard use of American on its own, while acknowledging that this has always been problematic. But two fairly prominent Canadians appear in these pages - Margaret Atwood and Leonard Cohen. Margaret is known in her disdain for America (we are always her model for dystopia, after all, love you Margaret) and Leonard is a pure Canadian who can't possibly have written any new poetry in the last year (except there is new work in a 2018 collection, and I need to read this - The Flame.) And if this is indeed North American, where are the first-nations poets, the trans-Chinese-immigrant poets, the French translated poets from the various regions of Canada, all of whom I read extensively and loved last year? And if this is North American, where is Mexico? Why call it American if that's not the intent? I really am confused. I really think this needs clarification. I reread the preface and the intro but they are not clear. I did enjoy the introduction by the volume editor explaining how he chose the poems that "braved human connection" and were from multiple perspectives. He includes song lyrics, which I appreciated. And one of the reasons I love these anthologies is that I tend to read single-poet collections and they tend to select poems from various periodicals, which of course is often where they first appear. I prefer mine in context of a poet's work; there are other types of context that are useful - political, thematical, tribute, etc. So I don't often find poems I've previously encountered, although there are a few in this collection I've experienced in the past year. Only one misstep in my book - the poem by Philip Schultz called "The Women's March" was nice enough, but who wants to read a poem about the women's movement by a man? Sorry, I'm certain Philip is a nice enough person, but can this truly be the most representative work? I also felt some of the really interesting female, Muslim, American+ immigrant/refugee poets are noticeably absent from the collection. Hopefully some of the voices from volumes like Halal If You Hear Me: The BreakBeat Poets Vol. 3 will surface by 2020. My favorites included: Six Obits by Victoria Chang (nice to have them as a set as they are sprinkled around various poetry publications otherwise) I Invite My Parents to a Dinner Party by Chen Chen (listen to the poet read it on SoundCloud, about the eternal coming out that happens in resistant families - I loved his first collection and look forward to the next!) Drank a Lot by Leonard Cohen (read it on the New Yorker) Virgil, Hey by Camille Guthrie (read this poem of motherhood on New Republic) The Undressing by Li-Young Lee (the most brainy sensual poem in existence, which I originally read in The Undressing: Poems but the individual poem can also be read at The American Poetry Review) A Brief History of the Future Apocalypse by Rebecca Lindenberg The Black Saint & The Sinner Lady & The Dead & The Truth by Morgan Parker (also in her collection Magical Negro, which everyone should read, you won't be sorry, but okay, you can also read it at Harper's Magazine) Partly True Poem Reflected in a Mirror by Ocean Vuong (available on Poetry London, also read his novel - On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous) I had an early copy of this from the publisher through NetGalley. It is not available until September 10, 2019, but I couldn't wait!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kimber

    I love poetry with every fibre of my being ... but anthologies don't make sense to me. But what they do for me is introduce me to new poets. I usually do find a few poems that excite me and the essays that preface this volume are superb. Lehman took the time to talk down the censorship that was starting to take way (just two short years ago) and for that matter the editor, Major Jackson, also acknowledged that he would stand by his decisions, as they were subjective on the poems he chose. My tho I love poetry with every fibre of my being ... but anthologies don't make sense to me. But what they do for me is introduce me to new poets. I usually do find a few poems that excite me and the essays that preface this volume are superb. Lehman took the time to talk down the censorship that was starting to take way (just two short years ago) and for that matter the editor, Major Jackson, also acknowledged that he would stand by his decisions, as they were subjective on the poems he chose. My thoughts-as all of ours- are also subjective in my choices of what poems touched me the most here (a list follows). What I also enjoyed in Jackson's essay were his recollections of his high school lit teacher- and noticing the contrast with present day high school students who are robbed of similar experiences- being confined to their home. It is a very sad moment right now for this new generation (but some schools are starting to open). My favorites: Dilruba Ahmed "Phase One" Joshua Bennett "America Will Be" Leonard Cohen "Drank a Lot" Laura Cronk "Like a Cat" ( this one reminded me of my ex and I could/should have wrote it myself) Martin Espada "I Now Pronounce You Dead" Edward Hirsch "Stranger by Night" Ruth Ellen Kocher "We May No Longer Consider the End" Andrew Motion "The Last of England" Tracy K. Smith "The Greatest Personal Privation" Alan Shapiro "Encore" A. E. Stallings "Harm's Way" “Encore,” Alan Shapiro Cold, that’s how I was. I couldn’t shake it off, especially those last days and nights doing all the right things in the wrong spirit, in the antithesis of spirit, more machine of son than son, mechanical, efficient, wiping and cleaning and so having to see and touch what it would have sickened me to touch and look at if I hadn’t left my body to the automatic pilot of its own devices so I could do what needed doing inside the deprivation chamber of this final chapter, which the TV looked out on glumly through game show, soap, old sappy black-and-white unmastered films. I was cold all the time, I couldn’t shake it off till I was free of her, however briefly, in the parking lot or at home for a quick drink or toke, anything to draw some vestige of fellow feeling out of hiding— hiding deer-like in a clearing at the end of hunting season, starved but fearful, warily sniffing the scentless air, breathing in the fresh absence of her scent too new too sudden not to be another trap—you’re dutiful, she’d say when I’d come back, as always, I’ll give you that. And I was cold: I couldn’t help feel there was something scripted and too rehearsed even about her dying, laid on too thickly, like a role that every book club romance, soap, musical and greeting card had been a training for, role of a lifetime, role “to die for” and O how she would have played it to the hilt if not for the cold I couldn’t shake—which must have so enraged her—not my lack of feeling but my flat refusal to pretend to feel, to play along (was that too much to ask?) and throw myself into the part so we could both, this once at least, rise to the occasion of what we never shared. That final day, for instance, the way the Fighting Sullivans on TV seemed to watch us watch them as a taunt or dare parade their small town big war grieving fanfare across the screen, the five sons killed in battle, only the old man holding back, not crying when he’s told the news, not breaking down or even touching the wife he still calls mother, a stoicism fraught with all the feeling he stuffs back down inside him as he grabs his lunch pail, heads to work, just as he would on any other day, the only hint of sorrow the salute he gives as the train chugs past the water tower on the top of which the apparitions of his boys stand waving calling out goodbye pop, see you around pop— and as the credits roll she’s asking if there’s anything, anything at all about the past, the family, her childhood that I’d like to hear about before she dies, her voice decked out so gaudily in matriarchal sweetness that I freeze, I shake my head, say, no, ma, no, I’m good. And just like that the scene is over, the sweetness vanishes into the air, into thin air, like the baseless fabric of the mawkish film, an insubstantial pageant faded as she nods and grimaces and turns away relieved (it almost seemed) that that was that. Was us. Was me. The role that I was born for, and she was done with now. And yet it’s never done, is it. The pageant’s never faded. Shake off the cold and it gets colder. There’s just no end to how cold the cold can get, not even on the coldest nights, not even if I throw the windows open wide and turn the ceiling fan on high and lie in bed, uncovered, naked, shivering inward back into myself as if to draw the cold in with me deeper, down to the icy center stage where I will always find her frozen in the act of turning from me while I freeze in the act of saying no.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Kiernan

    There are many reasons to read an annual collection like this. Foremost is probably the desire to read some great poems. Another is to see what condition contemporary poetry is in. A third is to discover new voices. And a fourth is to see what is on the minds of poets today. This year's collection scores highly in all four areas. There were many good and a few astonishingly brilliant poems in this book. I ordered two books by people I had never heard of before. Jane Shore's poem "Who Knows One", There are many reasons to read an annual collection like this. Foremost is probably the desire to read some great poems. Another is to see what condition contemporary poetry is in. A third is to discover new voices. And a fourth is to see what is on the minds of poets today. This year's collection scores highly in all four areas. There were many good and a few astonishingly brilliant poems in this book. I ordered two books by people I had never heard of before. Jane Shore's poem "Who Knows One", as just one example, succeeds on so many levels, even after multiple re-readings I cannot tell you how she does it. I don't think this collection accurately reflects the condition of contemporary poetry, which I consider a good thing. Too much new poetry is opaque if not incomprehensible, in some strange language intended to please some odd reader who I do not believe actually exists outside of the most precious academies and polemics. Thank goodness, the poems in this collection are readable, comprehensible, and unafraid to be about something. It is refreshing. I did hear new voices, some of which were too overtly political for me (poems and speeches and op-eds are not the same thing), but many of whom were engaging and interesting and about things I didn't know or hadn't considered. The range of this book -- in styles and in authors -- is immense (this maybe its greatest strength). And lastly, I was gratified to read that these poets are concerned about everything from the most personal interior landscapes to the broadest of civic and public questions, that poets were not afraid to write about God nor about their own hearts, that the struggle to understand persists and that these poems contribute to understanding. This year's collection, edited by Major Jackson, is worth picking up. If you are interested in work by living poets, it will lead you to more and better work.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jane

    Funny, of course, a collection of poetry will include all of the topics I listed as "shelves." These are the very stuff of poetry. I'll list some of my favorite poets and poems on my first trip through this "Best of" collection, so that I can come back to them. "Phase One" by Dilruba Ahmed a poem about forgiveness, the poet's forgiveness, not of herself, I think, but of another...although who the other might be is only implied. The poem ends" for treating your mother with contempt when she deserv Funny, of course, a collection of poetry will include all of the topics I listed as "shelves." These are the very stuff of poetry. I'll list some of my favorite poets and poems on my first trip through this "Best of" collection, so that I can come back to them. "Phase One" by Dilruba Ahmed a poem about forgiveness, the poet's forgiveness, not of herself, I think, but of another...although who the other might be is only implied. The poem ends" for treating your mother with contempt when she deserved compassion. I forgive you. I forgive you. I forgive you. for growing a capacity for love that is great but matched only, perhaps, by your loneliness, for being unable to forgive yourself first so you could then forgive others and at last find a way to become the love that you want in this world. "America Will Be" by Joshua Bennett is a song for his father and which he writes, "is a son for the myriad who are unheralded and nonetheless loved beyond measure." "Six Obits" a brilliant series of poems on the death of parts of the self: friendships, optimism, affection...for example "Drank a Lot" by Leonard Cohen "Ledger" by Jane Hirshfield "Sunflowers" by James Hoch about Van Gogh and his painting ,and the poet's son, and Van Gogh's pain and his son's questions and his brother's war which continues to find its way inside him. "Once anthing is inside you, you can't help but feel complicit. "Cannibal Woman" by Ada Limon is about a woman's anger and the poet's empathy for the woman and also for those hurt by the woman's anger. "Fannie Lou Hamer" by Kamilah Aisha Moon a poem about a teacher and a student, and the teacher's moment of deep hurt, when she encounters the student's racism. "You Are Your Own State Department" by Naomi Shihab Nye. Nye's concerns are always international and this poem illustrates that with specificity and heartbreak. "Rasputin Aria" juxtposes Rasputin and Trump in horrific detail. It ends: "--tis of thee I think/ when I think of my country rendering/ and being rendered, when I think of our body/ politic its head of wrath/ with an orange flame for hair." "The Greatest Personal Privation" by Tracy K. Smith A letter from a slave owner about losing her slaves...the poem gives voice to the sisters and their losses: one after another, after another. "Duty" by Natasha Trethewey A Father's story. "Hive" by Kevin Young Hive The honey bees' exile is almost complete. You can carry them from hive to hive, the child thought & that is what he tried, walking with them thronging between his pressed palms. Let him be right. Let the gods look away as always. Let this boy who carries the entire actual, whirring world in his calm unwashed hands, barely walking, bear us all there buzzing, unstung.

  5. 5 out of 5

    James

    This year's collection is a decidedly mixed bag with some stellar moments amidst a lot of anger over the political climate. A lot of familiar names from the contemporary poetry world. [I received an advanced reader's copy through Netgalley.] This year's collection is a decidedly mixed bag with some stellar moments amidst a lot of anger over the political climate. A lot of familiar names from the contemporary poetry world. [I received an advanced reader's copy through Netgalley.]

  6. 5 out of 5

    Angela

    I was hoping 2018's lackluster Best American Poetry was just a blip in the radar, but I found myself not enjoying BAP 2019 much, either. Major Jackson's intro was interesting—many people find poetry confusing, but poetry can be meaningful and challenging without being "precious" or obfuscated. I'm a progressive person but I think BAP has become too much about diversity picks and liberal beliefs (I've noticed the past several installments have authors mentioning some varation of "orange man bad" I was hoping 2018's lackluster Best American Poetry was just a blip in the radar, but I found myself not enjoying BAP 2019 much, either. Major Jackson's intro was interesting—many people find poetry confusing, but poetry can be meaningful and challenging without being "precious" or obfuscated. I'm a progressive person but I think BAP has become too much about diversity picks and liberal beliefs (I've noticed the past several installments have authors mentioning some varation of "orange man bad" in their notes). There's a part of me that understands that artists respond to the zeitgeist, but often I feel like poets create poems that focus on political ideas and technical skill falls by the wayside. In BAP 2019 you'll find a poem called #MeToo (which repeats "#MeToo" 25 times in a three stanza prose poem; I understand the intent of the repetition but it made me more apathetic than inflamed) next to a poem called "The Women's March" (a boring free verse poem with dull imagery)—this pretty much sums up exactly what I don't like about BAP. And it always seems like the editor searches for a 12-page long poem to test the reader's patience (in this case, Li-Young Lee's "The Undressing"). There are few poems in this edition that seemed unique or technically impressive. Contributor's notes are completely soulless with the exception of Kate Daniels, Sharon Olds, and Willie Perdomo. Poems that I liked: "Central Park" by Catherine Barnett, (parts of) "Six Obits" by Victoria Chang, "Like a Cat" by Laura Cronk, "Decline in the Adoration of Jack-in-the-Pulpits" by Joanne Dominique Dwyer, "We May No Longer Consider the End" by Ruth Ellen Kocher, "Cannibal Woman" by Ada Limón, "Hair" by Clarence Major, "Encore" by Alan Shapiro, "Harm's Way" by A.E. Stallings, "Partly True Poem Reflected in a Mirror" by Ocean Vuong. =10/75 (13.3%) poems that I liked.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Bea

    Notes on my favorite poems of the collection: "Phase One" by Dilruba Ahmed (pgs. 1-3). Forgiveness. The enjambment & repetition lending itself to layered meanings. "For growing / a capacity for love that is great / but matched only, perhaps, / by your loneliness" (lines 49-52). "America Will Be" by Joshua Bennett (pgs. 9-10). Hard-hitting. Elicited a deep, visceral emotional response. The lack of punctuation + enjambment and resulting the thematic implications. Lines like "between us. He is 68 yea Notes on my favorite poems of the collection: "Phase One" by Dilruba Ahmed (pgs. 1-3). Forgiveness. The enjambment & repetition lending itself to layered meanings. "For growing / a capacity for love that is great / but matched only, perhaps, / by your loneliness" (lines 49-52). "America Will Be" by Joshua Bennett (pgs. 9-10). Hard-hitting. Elicited a deep, visceral emotional response. The lack of punctuation + enjambment and resulting the thematic implications. Lines like "between us. He is 68 years old. He was born in the throat" (line 5), "Over breakfast, I ask him to tell me the hardest thing / about going to school back then, expecting some history / I already have memorized" (lines 8-10), "Now, I hear / the word America & think of my father's loneliness" (lines 13-14), "He looks / at me like the promise of another cosmos and I never / know what to tell him" (lines 41-43).

  8. 5 out of 5

    Joseph Spuckler

    The 2019 edition of The Best American Poetry begins with an impassioned introduction by David Lehman on political correctness in today's society. Major Jackson is the guest editor this year and poses the theme of artistic dignity vs street cred. With both of the introductions, I was expecting the poetry to follow suit. The poetry, however, doesn't seem to have the punch I was expecting from the introductions. Although very modern in form and seemingly less conservative, although not less controv The 2019 edition of The Best American Poetry begins with an impassioned introduction by David Lehman on political correctness in today's society. Major Jackson is the guest editor this year and poses the theme of artistic dignity vs street cred. With both of the introductions, I was expecting the poetry to follow suit. The poetry, however, doesn't seem to have the punch I was expecting from the introductions. Although very modern in form and seemingly less conservative, although not less controversial, then past editions, this does not seem to be a "best of" collection. Rather than the more themed collections of past years, this year's edition seems to cover a wide spectrum, like a survey. It could be the "street cred" of this edition that has left me, for the first time, feeling slightly disappointed. Maybe like music readers develop an ear for only certain types of poetry. Perhaps, it is just me getting old and clinging to the more traditional type of poetry rather than embracing the new. A few poems did stand out from the many; most notably Deborah Landau's "Soft Targets."

  9. 4 out of 5

    Wes Byers

    When you get right down to it, the poetry we enjoy -- the poetry that speaks to us -- is different for everyone. This year's BAP demonstrates just how true this is. With this in mind, I hereby express my deepest condolences for sticking this book with a devastating two-star rating. Like I said, it's a matter of taste. And I'm not so finicky as to not see the value in these poems. In fact, Alan Shapiro's "Encore" damn near brought me to tears. There were other poems that I thought were good, in t When you get right down to it, the poetry we enjoy -- the poetry that speaks to us -- is different for everyone. This year's BAP demonstrates just how true this is. With this in mind, I hereby express my deepest condolences for sticking this book with a devastating two-star rating. Like I said, it's a matter of taste. And I'm not so finicky as to not see the value in these poems. In fact, Alan Shapiro's "Encore" damn near brought me to tears. There were other poems that I thought were good, in technical terms, but for some mysterious reason (probably some defect in myself), they did not speak to me. Other poems, I'll admit, made me roll my eyes because they were so thoroughly, helplessly, needlessly -- ready for it? -- poetic. A strange criticism, to be sure, but it's the best way I can describe it. I don't profess to know a great deal about contemporary poetry, and I'm writing this review, more than anything, to remind myself why I gave this such a low rating.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Karen K.

    This is a marvelous contemporary collection of poems written by a wide range of American poets. Varieties of form and theme and a broad sampling of diverse literary traditions energize this collection. Some old favorites like Juan Felipe Herrera, Natasha Trethewey, and Jane Hirshfield are represented along with lesser-known poets. Images of youth, grief, extinction, nature, borders, spirit, and history create a collage of the American cultural and creative melting pot. This anthology makes an id This is a marvelous contemporary collection of poems written by a wide range of American poets. Varieties of form and theme and a broad sampling of diverse literary traditions energize this collection. Some old favorites like Juan Felipe Herrera, Natasha Trethewey, and Jane Hirshfield are represented along with lesser-known poets. Images of youth, grief, extinction, nature, borders, spirit, and history create a collage of the American cultural and creative melting pot. This anthology makes an ideal teaching tool for poetry workshops, as well as a go-to resource for those moments when simply reading a poem can elevate mind and spirit. A “Contributors Notes and Comments” section and short bios add valuable texture and context to the poems. Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for an ARC.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Brittney

    Best american poetry pulls different poems from many different authors' work. Because of this, there are many different styles of poetry. Unfortunately, I only enjoyed a few of the poems in this collection. Most of them were harder to understand. This should have been expected because most of these poems are from a completely different era of poetry. It was pretty hard to find the meaning behind each poem because the line breaks were so scattered or because the language was almost shakespearean Best american poetry pulls different poems from many different authors' work. Because of this, there are many different styles of poetry. Unfortunately, I only enjoyed a few of the poems in this collection. Most of them were harder to understand. This should have been expected because most of these poems are from a completely different era of poetry. It was pretty hard to find the meaning behind each poem because the line breaks were so scattered or because the language was almost shakespearean in a way. It was almost as if I was not reading in english. It showed some levels of every genre. Although it was difficult to read, I do like the level of Allusion some authors used in the collection. More specifically, the poem “Virgil, Hey” which used aspects of Dante's Inferno and the different circles of Hell.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    Every year, I try to read a poem a day, and a collection like this one is very good for that. Though there are definitely less than 365 poems in this book (366 since I started to read it in 2020), I didn't follow my every day goal very well. I never know how to catalog it when I've read it over two years, but I guess since I finished it in 2021, it'll go here. I enjoyed this collection a lot. I love seeing the variety of tones, styles, and types of poems that have been written from the skilled p Every year, I try to read a poem a day, and a collection like this one is very good for that. Though there are definitely less than 365 poems in this book (366 since I started to read it in 2020), I didn't follow my every day goal very well. I never know how to catalog it when I've read it over two years, but I guess since I finished it in 2021, it'll go here. I enjoyed this collection a lot. I love seeing the variety of tones, styles, and types of poems that have been written from the skilled poets of America. Since it's hard to review something like this, I'll simply list my favorite poems from the collection: "Strange by Night," Edward Hirsch "The S in 'I Loves You, Porgy,'" Nabila Lovelace "Just Rollin' Along," Ishmael Reed "Harm's Way," A.E. Stallings "Hive," Kevin Young

  13. 4 out of 5

    Liz Wahba

    Personally, I usually find that poetry books have 10-25% memorable, coherent poems, and that the other 90-75% are too personal to be clear, and/or too dramatic and self-praising to be enjoyable. This book was more 50-50 in its choices of poems, and that was enjoyable. There were five or six poems I will read again and keep in mind for my English classes (I teach high school) and my own reflection: Joshua Bennett. “America Will Be” Gabriela Garcia. “Guantanamera” Camille Guthrie. “Virgil, Hey” Majo Personally, I usually find that poetry books have 10-25% memorable, coherent poems, and that the other 90-75% are too personal to be clear, and/or too dramatic and self-praising to be enjoyable. This book was more 50-50 in its choices of poems, and that was enjoyable. There were five or six poems I will read again and keep in mind for my English classes (I teach high school) and my own reflection: Joshua Bennett. “America Will Be” Gabriela Garcia. “Guantanamera” Camille Guthrie. “Virgil, Hey” Major Jackson. “In Memory of Derek Alton Walcott” Naomi Shihab Nye. “You are Your Own State Department” Nicole Santalucia. “#MeToo” Alan Shapiro. “Encore” I highly recommend checking out the above poems. If you have the volume they are found there in the above order, alphabetically.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Lisa M.

    I read one poem a day from this collection in 2019, and then I reread them/author's commentary at the same time. The length I spent with this book makes it difficult to rate; I'm only recently becoming more familiar with contemporary poetry, so it is also difficult for me to comment on the inclusions of the book. certainly didn't enjoy all of these poems and got the feeling many were included not for the quality of the work but for the fact that they are well known names, I enjoyed it overall. J I read one poem a day from this collection in 2019, and then I reread them/author's commentary at the same time. The length I spent with this book makes it difficult to rate; I'm only recently becoming more familiar with contemporary poetry, so it is also difficult for me to comment on the inclusions of the book. certainly didn't enjoy all of these poems and got the feeling many were included not for the quality of the work but for the fact that they are well known names, I enjoyed it overall. Juan Felipe Herrera's "Under the Waves" was my favorite piece by far. I plan to continue reading books this way in the upcoming years.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Samantha

    As with any poetry collection, the poems in The Best American Poetry 2019 were hit or miss. There were, however, a great number of beautiful poems that vastly outweighed the not-as-beautiful ones, earning this collection a 4/5. Some of my favorite poems from this collection include: "I Now Pronounce You Dead" by Martín Espada, "On Confessionalism" by John Murillo and "The Black Saint & The Sinner Lady & The Dead & The Truth" by Morgan Parker, As with any poetry collection, the poems in The Best American Poetry 2019 were hit or miss. There were, however, a great number of beautiful poems that vastly outweighed the not-as-beautiful ones, earning this collection a 4/5. Some of my favorite poems from this collection include: "I Now Pronounce You Dead" by Martín Espada, "On Confessionalism" by John Murillo and "The Black Saint & The Sinner Lady & The Dead & The Truth" by Morgan Parker,

  16. 4 out of 5

    Carola

    Favorites: America Will Be by Joshua Bennett The Bathers, Cassis by Garret Hongo The Burning Bush by Didi Jackson In Memory of Derek Alton Walcott by Major Jackson Fannie Lou Hamer by Kamilah Aisha Moon On Confessionalism by John Murillo You Are Your Own State Department by Naomi Shahalo Nye Head Crack Head Crack by Willie Perdomo Encore by Alan Shapiro Who Knows One by Jane Shore Hive by Kevin Young

  17. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    I'm often looking to try to read more poetry, and usually pick up collections by individual authors, so I thought an anthology like this would be good exposure to a variety of poets. It didn't work for me - I found the introductions off-putting and few of the poems interesting. I did very much enjoy the Atwood poem! I'm often looking to try to read more poetry, and usually pick up collections by individual authors, so I thought an anthology like this would be good exposure to a variety of poets. It didn't work for me - I found the introductions off-putting and few of the poems interesting. I did very much enjoy the Atwood poem!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Pamela

    This is the first collection I have read from this series and thought it included a good selection of poets from different backgrounds. In the biographical section on the contributors some poets give a little background on the genesis of his or her poem which was interesting. One reviewer said that other years in this series have been better so I'll go back and check out earlier editions. This is the first collection I have read from this series and thought it included a good selection of poets from different backgrounds. In the biographical section on the contributors some poets give a little background on the genesis of his or her poem which was interesting. One reviewer said that other years in this series have been better so I'll go back and check out earlier editions.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca Manery

    I loved Ange Mlinko's gorgeous "Sleepwalking in Venice," the masterful use of discreet rhyme and stanza. I am less happy that editor Major Jackson chose to break precedent and include in this collection his own poem and one by his wife. One expects a certain amount of inclusion of friends and personal favorites, but I wish Mr. Jackson had drawn the line at self promotion. I loved Ange Mlinko's gorgeous "Sleepwalking in Venice," the masterful use of discreet rhyme and stanza. I am less happy that editor Major Jackson chose to break precedent and include in this collection his own poem and one by his wife. One expects a certain amount of inclusion of friends and personal favorites, but I wish Mr. Jackson had drawn the line at self promotion.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Lawrence Hall

    The prefatory essays by Major Jackson and David Lehman are brilliant. After that, there are some words scattered about prosetheatrically. "...I'm licking her armpits" - now that is unforgettable. The prefatory essays by Major Jackson and David Lehman are brilliant. After that, there are some words scattered about prosetheatrically. "...I'm licking her armpits" - now that is unforgettable.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Ross

    The third straight collection in this poetry series that I have read. This book has better poems than in the 2018 collection, including one (’In Memory Derek Alton Walcott”) that was written by the guest editor, Major Jackson.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    3.5 stars. I always enjoy these annual collections for the chance to read from so many different poets. This volume had a bit more of a political undertone than the previous few, which I found refreshing and relevant.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Heather Bennett

    The Best American Poetry 2019 is a great collection of poems that were a delight to read. Most were well written and this would make a great gift.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Blair Emsick

    Lehman’s forward had me a lil miffed (calling the decision for radio stations to pull baby it’s cold outside from their playlists “nutty” you can guess the rest) .. everything else was great

  25. 5 out of 5

    Crystal

    I'm only referring to the poetry. Lehman's intro was a mess. I'm only referring to the poetry. Lehman's intro was a mess.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Catherine Corman

    I used to boast that I never lived in a city without a Vermeer. -Lloyd Schwartz, "Vermeer’s Pearl" I used to boast that I never lived in a city without a Vermeer. -Lloyd Schwartz, "Vermeer’s Pearl"

  27. 4 out of 5

    Grace

    As always, reading this poetry anthology is a good experience.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kai

    Nice collection to start me on my journey to appreciating poetry. The first half had more that spoke to me, but I like the range.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Hannah

    A great anthology for poetry lovers.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Liz

    A lovely collection. Faves include Victoria Chang, “Six Obits,” Deborah Landau, “Soft Targets,” Jeffrey McDaniel, “Bio from a Parallel World,” Kevin Young, “Hive.”

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