The Best American Poetry 1995

The Best American Poetry 1995

1.6 20
by Richard Howard

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The Best American Poetry 1995 once again highlights the dazzling spectrum of style and subject matter to be found in the art today. Guest editor Richard Howard's accent is on discovery and surprise, and he has gleaned the most inventive and searching writing from a wide variety of literary journals. The themes and imagery here are indisputably "American," as…  See more details below


The Best American Poetry 1995 once again highlights the dazzling spectrum of style and subject matter to be found in the art today. Guest editor Richard Howard's accent is on discovery and surprise, and he has gleaned the most inventive and searching writing from a wide variety of literary journals. The themes and imagery here are indisputably "American," as our best poets continue to mine personal as well as communal experience for their work. Now in its eighth year, this series has established itself as a rich and vibrant source of new poetry -- celebrated in bookstores and on college campuses. Welcome, once again, the memorable voices and unique pleasures of Best American Poetry.


Margaret Atwood

Sally Ball

Catherine Bowman

Stephanie Brown

Lewis Buzbee

Cathleen Calbert

Rafael Campo

William Carpenter

Nicholas Christopher

Jane Cooper

James Cummins

Olena Kalytiak Davis

Lynn Emanuel

Elaine Equi

Irving Feldman

Donald Finkel

Aaron Fogel

Richard Frost

Allen Ginsberg

Peter Gizzi

Jody Gladding

Elton Glaser

Albert Goldbarth

Beckian Fritz Goldberg

Laurence Goldstein

Barbara Guest

Marilyn Hacker

Judith Hall

Anthony Hecht

Edward Hirsch

Janet Holmes

Andrew Hudgins

T.R. Hummer

Brigit Pegeen Kelly

Karl Kirchwey

Carolyn Kizer

Wayne Koestenbaum

John Koethe

Yusef Komunyakaa

Maxine Kumin

Lisa Lewis

Rachel Loden

Robert Hill Long

James Longenbach

Gail Mazur

J. D. McClatchy

Heather McHugh

Susan Musgrave

Charles North

Geoffrey O'Brien

Jacqueline Osherow

Molly Peacock

Carl Phillips

Marie Ponsot

Bin Ramke

Katrina Roberts

Michael J. Rosen

Kay Ryan

Mary Jo Salter

Tony Sanders

Stephen Sandy

Grace Schulman

Robyn Selman

Alan Shapiro

Reginald Shepherd

Anglea Sorby

Laurel Trivelpiece

Paul Violi

Arthur Vogelsang

David Wagoner

Charles H. Webb

Ed Webster

David Wojahn

Jay Wright

Stephen Yenser

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Howard's selection of 75 poems for this annual series edited by David Lehman will delight fans of formal traditions but may disappoint readers looking for poetry of socially conscious engagement, L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E-school experimentation or non-white experience. While the works range widely in subject, in style the influence of New Formalism is pervasive-a cerebral tone and Latinate word choice give many poems a self-conscious, overwritten feel. Painful subjects, such as breast cancer, are often buried in obscure references that distance emotional response; even poems drawing from pop culture demonstrate an insular aspect. Where formal constraint combines with authentic voice, we are rewarded with powerful works: the radical brilliance of Molly Peacock, Grace Schulman's intelligent tenderness and David Wojahn's complex insight. J.D. McClatchy addresses mortality with candor and humor in ``My Mammogram,'' and Rafael Campo infuses biting political indictment with personal sorrow in ``The Battle Hymn of the Republic.'' A brief commentary by each of the writers on his/her poem gives a captivating glimpse into the writer's mind and an index lists poems and poets represented in the previous seven volumes of the series. (Sept.)
Library Journal
In an attempt to induce the "gratification of surprise," Howard (Like Most Revelations, LJ 1/94) changes the rules that governed earlier volumes of this annual collection, excluding work by all prior editors and those poets who appear in the series more than three times. But his choice of the best poems published last year in magazines-drawn heavily from the Yale, Paris, and Western Humanities reviews, two of which Howard edits-makes few concessions to literary ecumenism, evincing instead an editorial preference for rhyme, traditional poetic frames, accessible narratives, and rich diction. The result is a gallery of impressive technical accomplishment, marred slightly by several overly long, self-indulgent monologs. Fine poems by Nicholas Christopher on Bosnia and Rafael Campo on gays in the military provide contemporary interest, but the best treats come from the unheralded fringes: Lisa Lewis's tough and savvy "Bridget"; the spare, thought-tilting resonance of Geoffrey O'Brien's "The Interior Prisoner"; and Paul Violi's effusive, unpredictably strange "Scatter." Recommended for large poetry collections.-Fred Muratori, Cornell Univ. Lib., Ithaca, N.Y.
School Library Journal
YA-New poetry by contemporary poets, collected from a wide variety of literary journals. The contributors include recognized writers such as Margaret Atwood, Allen Ginsberg, and Molly Peacock. The book ends with contributor's notes that include some biographical information and comments about their poems.
An anthology of modern American poetry, highlighting the 75 best poems of the year. Themes include personal and communal experience, and social issues such as war, urban violence, and gays in the military. Includes notes and comments from contributors, and a list of literary magazines where the poems were first published. This year's edition contains more newcomers and more women contributors than previous editions. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
Ray Olson
What a difference a year--or, rather, a wise editorial decision--makes. Last year, the seventh number of this annual was highly forgettable, thanks largely to too many back-patting inclusions of poems by series regulars. This year's deciding editor, Richard Howard, laid down a rule that poems by previous yearly editors and by poets whose work had appeared in three or more previous editions would be excluded. So 49 of the 76 poets represented are series newcomers (including, astonishingly enough, Margaret Atwood and Allen Ginsberg), and the eighth edition is a genuine voyage of discovery, thanks also, it should be added, to Howard's propensity for selecting fairly long poems. Oh, it's still too academic and New Yorkish for some tastes, but even without Molly Peacock's brow-and-other-body-parts-raising sequence on masturbation, "Have You Ever Faked an Orgasm?," this is the best "Best American Poetry" in some time.

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Best American Poetry Series
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Meet the Author

David Lehman, series editor of The Best American Poetry, is also the editor of The Oxford Book of American Poetry. His books of poetry include New and Selected Poems, When a Woman Loves a Man, and The Daily Mirror. He teaches in the New School graduate writing program and lives in New York City and Ithaca, New York.

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