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Best American Poetry 2016



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About The Book

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.


The Best American Poetry 2016 CHRISTOPHER BAKKEN Sentence

No one predicted we’d be sitting there,

just come in from a blizzard to that bar,

and three beached fishermen in the corner

would interrupt their beans to stare at us,

then return to eating, since we were strange,

but cold enough to be left alone,

and that to expect their calm dismissal

of our being there showed we understood

how things worked then, in the dead decades,

after most of the city had vanished

on trains, or had been drowned in foreign ports;

and therefore, when the priest arrived

with his ice-crusted shawl and frozen cross,

crooning mangled hymns, his head gone to praise,

we’d think it right to offer him a seat,

would carry his stiff gloves to the fire,

and fill his glass with wine and pass him bread,

and would suffer the blessings he put

upon the empty wombs of our soup bowls;

and who knew we’d pretend to sing each verse

of the tune he’d use to condemn us,

but would have no answer to his slammed fist,

nor the thing he’d yell to be overheard

by everyone there—when you stand this close

to the other side, don’t embarrass yourselves

with hope—as if that would be saying it all,

as if he knew we already stood there,

as if we could mount some kind of defense

before snow turned back to water in his beard.

from Birmingham Poetry Review

About The Authors

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David Lehman, the series editor of The Best American Poetry, edited The Oxford Book of American Poetry. His books of poetry include The Morning LineWhen a Woman Loves a Man, and The Daily Mirror. The most recent of his many nonfiction books is The Mysterious Romance of Murder: Crime, Detection, and the Spirit of Noir. He lives in New York City and Ithaca, New York.

Edward Hirsch is an American poet and critic who wrote national bestseller How to Read a Poem and Fall in Love with Poetry. He has published nine books of poems, including The Living Fire: New and Selected Poems, which brings together thirty-five years of work, and Gabriel: A Poem, a book-length elegy for his son that The New Yorker calls “a masterpiece of sorrow.” He has also published five prose books about poetry. He is president of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation in New York City.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Scribner (September 6, 2016)
  • Length: 240 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781501127564

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Raves and Reviews

"A 'best' anthology that really lives up to its title."

– Chicago Tribune

"Each year, a vivid snapshot of what a distinguished poet finds exciting, fresh and memorable: and over the years, as good a comprehensive overview of contem-porary poetry as there can be."

– Robert Pinsky

“A year’s worth of the very best!”

– People

"An essential purchase."

– Washington Post

"The Best American Poetry series has become one of the mainstays of the poetry publication world. For each volume, a guest editor is enlisted to cull the collective output of large and small literary journals published that year to select 75 of the year’s 'best' poems. The guest editor is also asked to write an introduction to the collection, and the anthologies would be indispensable for these essays alone; combined with [David] Lehman’s'state-of-poetry' forewords and the guest editors’ introductions, these anthologies seem to capture the zeitgeist of the current attitudes in American poetry.”

– Academy of American Poets

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