A celebration of the first edition of Best American Poetry and a tribute to the late John Ashbery—the guest editor and one of the best American poets of all time—this thirtieth anniversary edition is a look back at the beginning of a renowned anthology series and an outstanding collection of poems.
In 1988, series editor David Lehman began an institution with the inaugural installment of Best American Poetry. Thirty years later, this anniversary edition celebrates its guest editor, the brilliant John Ashbery. Ashbery was a vastly-admired, highly decorated, and generative artist; TheNew Yorker noted that, however one interprets Ashbery, “An alternative view says that every Ashbery poem is about poetry.” How fitting that he worked with Lehman on the first Best American Poetry, which would go on to become nearly as admired and generative as Ashbery himself—and always a book of poetry about poetry.
The Best American Poetry 1988 includes poems by Derek Walcott, Amy Gerstler, Donald Hall, Robert Pinsky, Ruth Stone, Ann Lauterbach, Seamus Heaney, and many more. With a Foreword by Lehman, in which he calls Ashbery “a poet’s poet’s poet,” and an Introduction by Ashbery, where he reflects that “life is what present American poetry gets to seem more like, and the more angles we choose to view it from, the more its amazing accidental abundance imposes itself,” this edition, with a new Preface from Lehman about how Best American Poetry has developed over the years, is a rewarding look back at the beginnings of the series.