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The Best American Poetry 2016

by David Lehman (Editor), Edward Hirsch (Editor)

Other authors: Christopher Bakken (Contributor), Catherine Barnett (Contributor), Rick Barot (Contributor), Jill Bialosky (Contributor), Paula Bohince (Contributor)71 more, Michelle Boisseau (Contributor), Marianne Boruch (Contributor), David Bottoms (Contributor), Joseph Chapman (Contributor), Michael Collier (Contributor), Allison Davis (Contributor), Olena Kalytiak Davis (Contributor), Natalie Diaz (Contributor), Denise Duhamel (Contributor), Lynn Emanuel (Contributor), Claudia Emerson (Contributor), Laura Eve Engel (Contributor), Martín Espada (Contributor), Peter Everwine (Contributor), Alexis Rhone Fancher (Contributor), Charles Fort (Contributor), Emily Fragos (Contributor), Amy Gerstler (Contributor), Dana Gioia (Contributor), Jorie Graham (Contributor), Juliana Gray (Contributor), Linda Gregerson (Contributor), Jennifer Grotz (Contributor), Mark Halliday (Contributor), Jeffrey Harrison (Contributor), Terrance Hayes (Contributor), Tony Hoagland (Contributor), Cynthia Hogue (Contributor), Garrett Hongo (Contributor), Erin Hoover (Contributor), Richard Howard (Contributor), T.R. Hummer (Contributor), Ishion Hutchinson (Contributor), Major Jackson (Contributor), Lawrence Joseph (Contributor), Julie Kane (Contributor), Suji Kwock Kim (Contributor), Loretta Collins Klobah (Contributor), John Koethe (Contributor), Yusef Komunyakaa (Contributor), Keetje Kuipers (Contributor), Deborah Landau (Contributor), Li-Young Lee (Contributor), Philip Levine (Contributor), Larry Levis (Contributor), Robin Coste Lewis (Contributor), Thomas Lux (Contributor), Paul Mariani (Contributor), Debra Marquart (Contributor), Cate Marvin (Contributor), Morgan Parker (Contributor), Hai-Dang Phan (Contributor), Rowan Ricardo Phillips (Contributor), Stanley Plumly (Contributor), James Richardson (Contributor), Patrick Rosal (Contributor), Brenda Shaughnessy (Contributor), Anya Silver (Contributor), Taije Silverman (Contributor), Tom Sleigh (Contributor), David St. John (Contributor), AE Stallings (Contributor), Frank Stanford (Contributor), Susan Stewart (Contributor), Nomi Stone (Contributor), Adrienne Su (Contributor), James Tate (Contributor), Lee Upton (Contributor), CK Williams (Contributor), Eleanor Wilner (Contributor), Al Young (Contributor)

Series: The Best American Poetry (29)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
934252,655 (4.19)1
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.… (more)
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Best American Poetry 2016 edited by David Lehman and Edward Hirsch is the 29th annual edition of American poetry. In 1994, Lehman succeeded Donald Hall as the general editor of the University of Michigan Press’s Poets on Poetry series, a position he held for twelve years. In 1997, he teamed with Star Black in creating and directing the famed KGB Bar Monday night poetry series in New York City’s East Village. He has taught in the graduate writing program of the New School in New York City since the program’s inception in 1996 and has served as poetry coordinator since 2003. He has edited The Best American Poetry Series since 1988. Hirsch is an American poet and critic who wrote a national bestseller about reading 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.

There are two events I look forward to every year -- The Iowa Poetry Prize winners and Lehman's Best American Poetry. As an anthology, it is wide-ranging in subject and style making it a book of discovery and also a book that gives the reader boundaries for his or her taste. This is not a collection where the reader will enjoy every poem, but it is a collection that has something for everyone. In Lehman's introduction, he tells of how poetry is a reflection of the times and the times are not good. There is terrorism, environmental destruction, and a constant stream of doom being reported. There is also a diversity in this collection that reflects a change in America. There are poems from Asian and Indian perspectives adding to the traditional melting pot.

Two poems, in particular, jumped up and rattled my brain. “Humanity 101” by Lynn Emanuel deep in satire and real world reflections of Humanity and Remedial Humanity as college courses. Is that how far we have come as people, needing to learn what it is to be humans? Of course, even in the instruction it is filled with the same warped sense of perceived reality that people believed putting a magnet on their car was supporting the troops, but when physically and mentally broken troops returned home needing help they were quickly forgotten. That poem struck deep. In the same sense "The Lady Responds" by Linda Gergerson on the surface seems to show how lightly we treat animals, especially in emotional and physical cruelty. A little closer look at the dedication "after Sir Thomas Wyatt" and the opening line "Whoso list to hunt..." It is a response to Thomas Wyatt's poem about Anne Boleyn where the deer (Boleyn) he wants cannot be had because it's on Caesar's land (king's wife) so he can no longer hunt. Gergerson's reply is concerning the dogs that hunt, cannot behave, and those that are live bait for bears. Extremely well done on two levels.

Also in this year's edition is a high percentage of prose poetry and free verse, much more than I remember in previous editions. Most are very good but still many may question if it is really poetry or a vivid short story. There is no doubt that prose can be poetic but is it poetry? That is for the reader to decide. There are plenty of more conventional poems in the collection for the traditionalists. Best American Poetry 2016 is a good indicator of the direction of American poetry. It reflects the changes in society both good and bad and how America is seen from the inside. Although Lehman warns of the apocalyptic feelings of the times there is hope and lightness still to be found in American poetry. ( )
  evil_cyclist | Mar 16, 2020 |
Curated collection with author biographies.Excellent way to read great poetry from a diverse group of poets and learn about the poets. ( )
  deldevries | Dec 10, 2017 |
My knowledge of poetry is woefully lacking and I picked this anthology to go knees deep in the topic. I found a lot of poets whose work I love (such as Allison Davis, Olena Kalytiak Davis, Alexis Rhone Fancher, Erin Hoover, Hai-Dang Phan) and others (won't name names here) whose work I found to be average or poor quality. What turned me off was the deluge of white (I looked them up), old (per their bios) or dead (also in their bios) men who seemed to overflow between the few women or people of color. The editor remarks in the opening notes there were a lot of poets new or new to him but I find it hard to believe he had no clue about how many of these old or dead white guys ESTABLISHED (and this is crucial) poets were in the field when he put this together. This lack of inclusion of emerging or genre-defying work is lazy and erasure of others who don't fit the old, dead, or white guy labels. (The argument being made for the dead poets, many decades passed, is the poem was published in 2015 so it counts. Which if you died in 2015 is fine but if you died in 1995 and it's now edited in a posthumous work? No.)

Overall, the anthology introduced me to a lot of forms and styles of poetry as well as introducing me to some poets whose work I plan on following so it's not a terrible loss. I would give this anthology 3.5 stars on the homogenization of the works selected and lack of inclusion but I upped it to four due to education gleaned and poets I'm now introduced to. ( )
  heroineinabook | Apr 16, 2017 |
I am in the process of making friends with a poet. So I decided to read a book of poetry, and figured a Best Of meant that I wouldn't have to suffer through a bunch of drivel. Of course, now that I've written the first two sentences of this review, I'm thinking I should have planned and made it in iambic pentameter or something, which would mean looking up exactly what iambic pentameter is because I think what I think iambic pentametic is (da da da da da da da; da da da da da da da da) may just be a rhythm that children's books are often written in.

So I don't read much poetry. I know that I like reading poems that rhyme, but then (I thought quite hard on this) I realized that saying I like reading poems that rhyme really means I like reading When We Were Very Young and Now We Are Six by A.A. Milne, because very few poems rhymed in Best American Poetry 2016 and, the ones that did, I didn't enjoy as much as the ones that didn't. I read a few poems from the anthology each day, letting them shine on me like equatorial sunshine. That's what I think good poetry should do, make you feel like one is standing in a southern Italian sun, by the beach but not on the beach, with that white light we don't get here (too far north). Clarity. To be of pure white light is how I described my daughter; good poetry should be like that.

For the most part, Best American Poetry 2016 was like that. I felt cleansed.

Best American Poetry 2016 edited by Edward Hirsch went on sale September 6, 2016.

I received a copy free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. ( )
  reluctantm | Oct 3, 2016 |
Showing 4 of 4
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Lehman, DavidEditorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hirsch, EdwardEditormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Bakken, ChristopherContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Barnett, CatherineContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Barot, RickContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bialosky, JillContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bohince, PaulaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Boisseau, MichelleContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Boruch, MarianneContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bottoms, DavidContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Chapman, JosephContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Collier, MichaelContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Davis, AllisonContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Davis, Olena KalytiakContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Diaz, NatalieContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Duhamel, DeniseContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Emanuel, LynnContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Emerson, ClaudiaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Engel, Laura EveContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Espada, MartínContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Everwine, PeterContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Fancher, Alexis RhoneContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Fort, CharlesContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Fragos, EmilyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gerstler, AmyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gioia, DanaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Graham, JorieContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gray, JulianaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gregerson, LindaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Grotz, JenniferContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Halliday, MarkContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Harrison, JeffreyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hayes, TerranceContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hoagland, TonyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hogue, CynthiaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hongo, GarrettContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hoover, ErinContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Howard, RichardContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hummer, T.R.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hutchinson, IshionContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Jackson, MajorContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Joseph, LawrenceContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kane, JulieContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kim, Suji KwockContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Klobah, Loretta CollinsContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Koethe, JohnContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Komunyakaa, YusefContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kuipers, KeetjeContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Landau, DeborahContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lee, Li-YoungContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Levine, PhilipContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Levis, LarryContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lewis, Robin CosteContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lux, ThomasContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Mariani, PaulContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Marquart, DebraContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Marvin, CateContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Parker, MorganContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Phan, Hai-DangContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Phillips, Rowan RicardoContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Plumly, StanleyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Richardson, JamesContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Rosal, PatrickContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Shaughnessy, BrendaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Silver, AnyaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Silverman, TaijeContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Sleigh, TomContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
St. John, DavidContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Stallings, AEContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Stanford, FrankContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Stewart, SusanContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Stone, NomiContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Su, AdrienneContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Tate, JamesContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Upton, LeeContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Williams, CKContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Wilner, EleanorContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Young, AlContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed

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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.

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