The Best American Poetry 2016

The Best American Poetry 2016


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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781501127557
Publisher: Scribner
Publication date: 09/06/2016
Series: Best American Poetry Series
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 857,758
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

David Lehman, the series editor of The Best American Poetry, is also the editor of the Oxford Book of American Poetry. His books of poetry include Poems in the Manner Of, New and Selected Poems, Yeshiva Boys, When a Woman Loves a Man, and The Daily Mirror. 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.

Read an Excerpt

The Best American Poetry 2016

  • 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

  • Table of Contents

    Foreword David Lehman xi

    Introduction Edward Hirsch xvii

    "Sentence" Christopher Bakken 1

    "O Esperanza!" Catherine Barnett 3

    "Whitman, 1841" Rick Barot 4

    "Daylight Savings" Jill Bialosky 6

    "Fruits de Mer" Paula Bohince 8

    "Ugglig" Michelle Boisseau 10

    "I Get to Float Invisible" Marianne Boruch 12

    "Hubert Blankenship" David Bottoms 14

    "32 Fantasy Football Teams" Joseph Chapman Laura Erc Engle 15

    "Last Morning with Steve Orlen" Michael Collier 17

    "The Heart of It All + A Free Beer" Allison Davis 18

    "On the Certainty of Bryan" Olena Kalytiak Davis 20

    "How the Milky Way Was Made" Natalie Diaz 24

    "Humanity 101" Denise Duhamel 26

    "My Life" Lynn Emanuel 28

    "Cyst" Claudia Emerson 29

    "Here I Am" Marín Espada 30

    "The Kiskiminetas River" Peter Everwine 32

    "When I turned fourteen, my mother's sister took me to lunch and said:" Alexis Rhone Fancher 34

    "One Had Lived in a Room and Loved Nothing" Charles Fort 36

    "The Sadness of Clothes" Emily Fragos 37

    "A Drop of Seawater Under the Microscope" Amy Gerstler 38

    "Meet Mc at the Lighthouse" Dana Gioia 40

    "Reading to My Father" Jorie Graham 41

    "The Lady Responds" Juliana Gray 46

    "Font" Linda Gregerson 47

    "Self-Portrait on the Street of an Unnamed Foreign City" Jennifer Grotz 50

    "Doctor Scheef" Mark Halliday 52

    "Afterword" Jeffrey Harrison 53

    "Barberism" Terrance Hayes 54

    "Bible Study" Tony Hoagland 56

    "The Unwritten Volume" Cynthia Hogue 58

    "I Got Heaven…" Garrett Hongo 60

    "Girls" Erin Hoover 61

    "85 Off & On" Richard Howard 63

    "Minutiae" T. R. Hummer 65

    "Morning Tableau" Ishion Hutchinson 66

    "Aubade" Major Jackson 67

    "Visions of Labor" Lawrence Joseph 69

    "As If" Julie Kane 71

    "Return of the Native" Suji Kwock Kim 72

    "Tissue Gallery" Loretta Collins Klobah 74

    "The Swimmer" John Koethe 78

    "The Fool" Yusef Komunyakaa 81

    "We drive home from the lake, sand in our shoes," Keetje Kuipers 83

    "Solitaire" Deborah Landau 84

    "Folding a Five-Cornered Star So the Corners Meet" Li-Young Lee 86

    "More Than You Gave" Philip Levine 88

    "If He Came & Diminished Me & Mapped My Way" Larry Levis 92

    "On the Road to Sri Bhuvaneshwari" Robin Coste Lewis 95

    "Ode While Awaiting Execution" Thomas Lux 104

    "Psalm for the Lost" Paul Mariani 106

    "Lament" Debra Marquart 108

    "High School in Schuzou" Cate Marvin 110

    "Everything Will Be Taken Away" Morgan Parker 112

    "My Father's 'Norton Introduction to Literature,' Third Edition (1981)" Hai-Dang Phan 114

    "The First Last Light in the Sky" Rowan Ricardo Phillips 116

    "Variation on a Line from Elizabeth Bishop's 'Five Flights Up'" Stanley Plumly 117

    "Late Aubade" James Richardson 119

    "At the Tribunals" Patrick Rosal 120

    "Vineyard" David St. John 122

    "But I'm the Only One" Brenda Shaughnessy 124

    "Maid Maleen" Anya Silver 127

    "Grief" Taije Silverman 128

    "Prayer for Recovery" Tom Sleigh 130

    "Alice, Bewildered" A. E. Stallings 131

    "Cotton You Lose in the Field" Frank Stanford 132

    "What Piranesi Knew" Susan Stewart 134

    "Drones: An Exercise in Awe-Terror" Nomi Stone 135

    "Peaches" Adrienne Su 138

    "Dome of the Hidden Temple" James Tate 140

    "The Apology" Lee Upton 142

    "Hog" C. K. Williams 143

    "To Think of How Cold" Eleanor Wilner 145

    "The Drummer Omar: Poet of Percussion" Al Young 147

    Contributors' Notes and Comments 149

    Magazines Where the Poems Were First Published 203

    Acknowledgments 207

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