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American Poems: Books: The Best American Poetry 2000
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 Home » Books » The Best American Poetry 2000

The Best American Poetry 2000

In Stock
  • Sales Rank:13,576,288
  • Languages:English (Unknown), English (Original Language), English (Published)
  • Media:Turtleback
  • Shipping Weight (lbs):0.9
  • Dimensions (in):1 x 5.5 x 8.5
  • Publication Date:October 2000
  • ISBN:0606192085
  • EAN:9780606192088
  • ASIN:0606192085

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Editorial Reviews:
A mid an "explosion in the interest of poetry nationwide" (The New York Times), The Best American Poetry 2000 delivers one of the finest volumes yet in this renowned series. Guest editor Rita Dove, a distinguished figure in the poetry world and the second African-American poet ever to win the Pulitzer Prize, brings all of her dynamism and well-honed acumen to bear on this project. Dove used a simple yet exacting method to make her selections: "The final criterion," she writes in her introduction, "was Emily Dickinson's famed description - if I felt that the top of my head had been taken off, the poem was in." The result is a marvelous collection of consistently high-quality poems diverse in form, tone, style, stance, and subject matter. With comments from the poets themselves illuminating their poems and a foreword by series editor David Lehman, The Best American Poetry 2000 is this year's must-have book for all poetry lovers. Review
In her introduction to The Best American Poetry 2000, Rita Dove offers the key to honest appreciation: read the work for itself, not for its creator's name and rank on the great chain of poetic being. With luck it will take the top of your head off, though some poems may only elicit a tingle the first time around. Put those away and come back another time, in another mood. "A poem must sing," she writes, "even if the song elicits horror." And the 75 she ultimately chose--by such poetic senior citizens as Lucille Clifton, Thom Gunn, W.S. Merwin, and the as yet unacknowledged--both sing and explode. Her harvest is as varied and abundant as the garden (and gardener!) Stanley Plumley celebrates in "Kunitz Tending Roses":
Still, there he is, on any given day,
talking to ramblers, floribundas, Victorian
perpetuals, as if for beauty and to make us
glad or otherwise for envy and to make us
wish for more--if only to mystify and move us.
Dove does find certain trends, ranging from "the interpolation of personal chronicles with the larger sweep of events" to "elegies for the passing of heroes, of good times, of innocence." Certainly, more than one therapist pops up here--in, for instance, Pamela Sutton's mesmerizing "There Is a Lake of Ice on the Moon" and in Denise Duhamel's intricate "Incest Taboo" (which is a lot more subtle than its title would give out). This dislocating double sestina's 13 stanzas juggle a fear of birds, a brother's death, alcoholism, familial expectations, and so much more. Set free by the form's constraints--the same end-words must recur in each stanza--this poet uses such phrases as "parrot," swoop," "wrong, "hover," hum," and "mother" to great effect, ironies and tragedies accreting. As Duhamel writes in the contributors' notes: "I felt as though I were doing a strenuous combination of math, crossword puzzles, and particle physics."

Some poems are definitely augmented by their creators' explanations--and their prose is often as eloquent as their verse. Others require none. Yet what threatens to steal the poetic show occurs after these comments. The series wizard, David Lehman, asked past and present guest editors to cite their top 15 20th-century American poems, in alphabetical order. It's impossible not to gravitate to this section and silently argue with some selections, approve others wholeheartedly, discover a few for the first time, and remonstrate over certain absences. How marvelous, if unsurprising, to see so many poets voting for Robert Frost, Elizabeth Bishop (who scores particularly high), and two whom John Hollander wittily terms "the transatlantic problematics," Auden and Eliot. If only Lehman had asked each editor to expound on his or her choices. In this list context, Louise Glück's refusal to "prefer merely fifteen" proves as inspiring as others' elections. Still, it's amusing to watch such poets as Mark Strand, A.R. Ammons, and Lehman himself look for loopholes and stuff the ballot box with also-rans. --Kerry Fried

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