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Best American Poetry 2018



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About The Book

The 2018 edition of the Best American Poetry—“a ‘best’ anthology that really lives up to its title” (Chicago Tribune)—collects the most significant poems of the year, chosen by Poet Laureate of California Dana Gioia.

The guest editor for 2018, Dana Gioia, has an unconventional poetic background. Gioia has published five volumes of poetry, served as the Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, and currently sits as the Poet Laureate of California, but he is also a graduate of Stanford Business School and was once a Vice President at General Foods. He has studied opera and is a published librettist, in addition to his prolific work in critical essay writing and editing literary anthologies. Having lived several lives, Gioia brings an insightful, varied, eclectic eye to this year’s Best American Poetry.

With his classic essay “Can Poetry Matter?”, originally run in The Atlantic in 1991, Gioia considered whether there is a place for poetry to be a part of modern American mainstream culture. Decades later, the debate continues, but Best American Poetry 2018 stands as evidence that poetry is very much present, relevant, and finding new readers.


Best American Poetry 2018 CONTENTS
Foreword by David Lehman

Introduction by Dana Gioia

Allison Adair, “Miscarriage”

Kaveh Akbar, “Against Dying”

Julia Alvarez, “American Dreams”

A. R. Ammons, “Finishing Up”

David Barber, “Sherpa Song”

Andrew Bertaina, “A Translator’s Note”

Frank Bidart, “Mourning What We Thought We Were”

Bruce Bond, “Anthem”

George Bradley, “Those Were the Days”

Joyce Clement, “Birds Punctuate the Days”

Brendan Constantine, “The Opposites Game”

Maryann Corbett, “Prayer Concerning the New, More ‘Accurate’ Translation of Certain Prayers”

Robert Cording, “Toast to My Dead Parents”

Cynthia Cruz, “Artaud”

Dick Davis, “A Personal Sonnet”

Warren Decker, “Today’s Special”

Susan de Sola, “The Wives of the Poets”

Dante Di Stefano, “Reading Dostoyevsky at Seventeen”

Nausheen Eusuf, “Pied Beauty”

Jonathan Galassi, “Orient Epithalamion”

Jessica Goodfellow, “Test”

Sonia Greenfield, “Ghost Ship”

Joy Harjo, “An American Sunrise”

Terrance Hayes, “American Sonnet for My Past and Future Assassin”

Ernest Hilbert, “Mars Ultor”

R. Nemo Hill, “The View from The Bar”

Tony Hoagland, “Into the Mystery”

Anna Maria Hong, “Yonder, a Rental”

Paul Hoover, “I Am the Size of What I See”

Marie Howe, “Walking Home”

Mandy Kahn, “Ives”

Ilya Kaminsky, “We Lived Happily During the War”

Stephen Kampa, “The Quiet Boy”

Donika Kelly, “Love Poem: Chimera”

Suji Kwock Kim, “Sono”

Karl Kirchwey, “Palazzo Maldura”

Nate Klug, “Aconite”

Robin Coste Lewis, “Using Black to Paint Light”

David Mason, “First Christmas in the Village”

Robert Morgan, “Window”

Aimee Nezhukumatathil, “Invitation”

Hieu Minh Nguyen, “B.F.F.”

Alfred Nicol, “Addendum”

Nkosi Nkululeko, “Skin Deep”

Sheana Ochoa, “Hands”

Sharon Olds, “Silver Spoon Ode”

Jacqueline Osherow, “Tilia cordata”

Mike Owens, “Sad Math”

Elise Paschen, “The Week Before She Died”

Jessica Piazza, “Bells’ Knells”

Aaron Poochigian, “Happy Birthday, Herod”

Ruben Quesada, “Angels in the Sun”

Alexandra Lytton Regalado, “La Mano”

Paisley Rekdal, “Philomela”

Michael Robbins, “Walkman”

J. Allyn Rosser, “Personae Who Got Loose”

Mary Ruefle, “Genesis”

Kay Ryan, “Some Transcendent Addiction to the Useless”

Mary Jo Salter, “We’ll Always Have Parents”

Jason Schneiderman, “Voxel”

Nicole Sealey, “A Violence”

Michael Shewmaker, “Advent”

Carmen Giménez Smith, “Dispatch from Midlife”

Tracy K. Smith, “An Old Story”

Gary Snyder, “Why California Will Never Be Like Tuscany”

A. E. Stallings, “Pencil”

Anne Stevenson, “How Poems Arrive”

Adrienne Su, “Substitutions”

Natasha Trethewey, “Shooting Wild”

Agnieszka Tworek, “Grief Runs Untamed”

G. C. Waldrep, “Dear Office in Which I Must Account for Tears,”

Wang Ping, “??—Lao Jia”

James Matthew Wilson, “On a Palm”

Ryan Wilson, “Face It”

Christian Wiman, “Assembly”

Contributors’ Notes and Comments

Magazines Where the Poems Were First Published


About the Editors

About The Authors

Photo Credit:

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.

Dana Gioia is an internationally acclaimed and award-winning poet. Former Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, Gioia is a native Californian of Italian and Mexican descent. He received a B.A. and a M.B.A. from Stanford University and an M.A. in Comparative Literature from Harvard University. He won the 2018 Poets' Prize for his collection 99 Poems: New and Selected. Gioia currently serves as the Poet Laureate of California, teaches at the University of Southern California, and has written five volumes of poetry, as well as the influential essay collection Can Poetry Matter?


Product Details

  • Publisher: Scribner (September 18, 2018)
  • Length: 240 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781501127793

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Raves and Reviews

"Always excellent."

– Michael Dirda, Washington Post

"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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