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The Best American Poetry 2015

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The premier anthology of contemporary American poetry continues with an exceptional volume edited by award-winning novelist and poet Sherman Alexie. Since its debut in 1988, The Best American Poetry has become a mainstay for the direction and spirit of American poetry. Each volume in the series presents the year’s most extraordinary new poems and writers. Guest editor Sherm The premier anthology of contemporary American poetry continues with an exceptional volume edited by award-winning novelist and poet Sherman Alexie. Since its debut in 1988, The Best American Poetry has become a mainstay for the direction and spirit of American poetry. Each volume in the series presents the year’s most extraordinary new poems and writers. Guest editor Sherman Alexie’s picks for The Best American Poetry 2015 highlight the depth and breadth of the American experience. Culled from electronic and print journals, the poems showcase some of our leading luminaries—Amy Gerstler, Terrance Hayes, Ron Padgett, Kay Ryan—and introduce a number of outstanding younger poets taking their place in the limelight. A leading figure since his breakout poetry collection The Business of Fancydancing in 1992, Sherman Alexie won the National Book Award for his novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. He describes himself as “lucky enough to be a full-time writer” and has written short stories, novels, screenplays, and essays—but he is at his core a poet. As always, series editor David Lehman’s foreword assessing the state of the art kicks off the book, followed by an introductory essay in which Alexie discusses his selections. The Best American Poetry 2015 is a guide to who’s who and what’s happening in American poetry today.


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The premier anthology of contemporary American poetry continues with an exceptional volume edited by award-winning novelist and poet Sherman Alexie. Since its debut in 1988, The Best American Poetry has become a mainstay for the direction and spirit of American poetry. Each volume in the series presents the year’s most extraordinary new poems and writers. Guest editor Sherm The premier anthology of contemporary American poetry continues with an exceptional volume edited by award-winning novelist and poet Sherman Alexie. Since its debut in 1988, The Best American Poetry has become a mainstay for the direction and spirit of American poetry. Each volume in the series presents the year’s most extraordinary new poems and writers. Guest editor Sherman Alexie’s picks for The Best American Poetry 2015 highlight the depth and breadth of the American experience. Culled from electronic and print journals, the poems showcase some of our leading luminaries—Amy Gerstler, Terrance Hayes, Ron Padgett, Kay Ryan—and introduce a number of outstanding younger poets taking their place in the limelight. A leading figure since his breakout poetry collection The Business of Fancydancing in 1992, Sherman Alexie won the National Book Award for his novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. He describes himself as “lucky enough to be a full-time writer” and has written short stories, novels, screenplays, and essays—but he is at his core a poet. As always, series editor David Lehman’s foreword assessing the state of the art kicks off the book, followed by an introductory essay in which Alexie discusses his selections. The Best American Poetry 2015 is a guide to who’s who and what’s happening in American poetry today.

30 review for The Best American Poetry 2015

  1. 5 out of 5

    Joseph Spuckler

    The Best American Poetry 2015 edited by David Lehman is a sampling of the best poetry of 2015. 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 incept The Best American Poetry 2015 edited by David Lehman is a sampling of the best poetry of 2015. 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. The good news is poetry is still alive and well in America. The even better news is that unlike much of today's published literature women poets hold the lion's share of this collection. There is also representation on of writers with Asian, Indian, and African backgrounds. There is diversity in American poetry and it shows in this collection. The poems cover a variety of style from rhyming lines, to non-rhyming couplets, free verse, to verse paragraph. The subjects also carry a wide range of topics. Opening with the poem "Bodhisattva" and quickly moving to a very well done poem composed entirely of lines from Craigslist personal ads. Mark Bibbins "Swallowed" pays notice to the nearly lyrical novelist Virginia Woolf: ...I am off to seize the world, inside of its machine. This is the way Calen ends, not with a bang but a river. Woolf, too; she goes out the same goddamn way. Chen Chen pledges allegiance to the snow -- both new fallen and tracked through. Denise Duhamel writes of fornicating and a breeze through a screen. Noah's Ark is the subject of two poems and in Ellis' version we read: God evil Move the "d" Go Devil Galvin writes an ode to wedding dresses. Beautiful dress that are worn once or maybe twice and banished to a closet or perhaps Goodwill. The subject matter is broader than what one would expect in such a collection. Lehman not only edits but writes a lengthy forward. Guest editor Sherman Alexie "writes" the introduction. It is not a traditional introduction but made up of a series of quotes by Alexie followed by his poem "Defending Walt Whitman." Although unconventional it works very well. Following the poetry collection is a series of mini-biographies on the individual poets. I particularly like this feature because it allows the reader to know something of the poet's background, other work, and their perspective. There is a very good reason why Lehman has been editing this series since 1988. He does an outstanding job of not only bringing the best new poetry, but he covers a broad spectrum of poets and subject matter. I also would like to thank Scribner for allowing me to review the advanced edition of Best American Poetry for the last three years. It is something I look forward to every year, I and am never disappointed. Outstanding contemporary poetry.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Lawrence

    So the 300-pound Gorilla you invite into your reading room when you dig into this year’s BAP is a poem that was first published and then chosen for this anthology that used a Chinese nom de plume (Yi-Fen Chou) while in fact being written by a white guy (Michael Derrick Hudson.) Asian-American poets (among many others) have cried foul – understandably so. Personally, I don’t think this little storm-in-a-teacup rises to a literary hoax in the way, say, that the hoax of “Doubled Flowering: From the So the 300-pound Gorilla you invite into your reading room when you dig into this year’s BAP is a poem that was first published and then chosen for this anthology that used a Chinese nom de plume (Yi-Fen Chou) while in fact being written by a white guy (Michael Derrick Hudson.) Asian-American poets (among many others) have cried foul – understandably so. Personally, I don’t think this little storm-in-a-teacup rises to a literary hoax in the way, say, that the hoax of “Doubled Flowering: From the Notebooks of Araki Yasusada” as a purported survivor of the Hiroshima atomic massacre who was supposedly influenced by Jack Spicer (of all people) really duped and shook the American poetry scene a few decades ago. Sherman Alexie, the guest editor of this year’s BAP, has published an online response to the kerfuffle and I think he handles the whole situation rather well. Writing a good poem isn’t easy; getting a good poem published and read is almost entirely up to chance. The poem in question, “The Bees, the Flowers, Jesus, Ancient Tigers, Poseidon, Adam and Eve,” isn’t a bad poem and its extended title has some of the qualities I’d associate with certain Wang Wei poems, say; but the content is intriguingly “Western” enough if you assume the poet is of Chinese origin, and so it’s easy for me to see why Alexie or any other editor might choose the poem for publication. But it also isn’t a great poem, so I can equally see why it might get rejected. It’s the type of poem that, with a bit of luck, can actually get published and read; but with no luck, will get rejection slip after rejection slip. Such a poem should not sour the entire anthology, though, which as things go is somewhat uneven in quality but has some stand-outs. First I'll comment on the bad and then the good below: THE BAD: Some poems here are infinitely more objectionable than Hudson’s hoax – none more so than Laura Kasischke’s hysterically sentimental piece about some girl falling off her bike. Reading this made for a SMH moment. Denise Duhamel gives us one of her typical single-idea/image poem spun like cotton candy into a frothy mess of practical nothingness that dissolves cloyingly on the reader's tongue (this time around she just wants to get laid – TMI…) David Kirby represents the pervasive Jokester School of American poetry with a typically annoying and chatty piece about religion and how much more in-tuned with spirituality poets like Kirby must be. These types of poems make me understand a lot of the snarky stereotypes about bohemian poets who just spin out drivel glued together with laughter and tears -- no wonder there's such a small readership for poetry! But far more troubling for me, perhaps, than those individually bad poems is a trend heavily influenced by “Flarf” and “Spoetry” (got to Google those words in order to believe they are actually aesthetic movements!): a sort of found/search-engine-generated or list poem that throws everything and the kitchen sink at you trying to convince you they're pure genius. The sheer number of poets represented who write poems like this -— Melissa Barrett (using Craigslist), Julie Carr, Meredith Hasemann, Rebecca Hazelton, Douglas Kearney’s really dreary drone reality-tv-meets-a-miscarriage-poem, Tanya Olson tripping on Planet Prince (the musician), Natalie Scenters-Zapico, Sandra Simonds, and especially Cody Walker (who if I heard read his poem aloud I would beg him — BEG him! — to stop!) -— this is quite disheartening. These poems really put my teeth on edge. Related to this trend is a seemingly Hip-hop-influenced poetry that thinks merely using rhyme without any other formal qualities makes for structure, but of course it doesn’t (poems, for example, by Dora Malech, Donna Masini, and Eve Shockley whose poem kept making me think of the 30 Rock episode where people kept trying to say “Rural Juror” clearly.) IMHO, Hip-hop is to written poetic use of rhyme what an electric nail-gun is to the art of embroidery. And still Gertrude Stein’s nonsense rhymes influence poets like Rachel Briggs and Airea Matthews; there was no there there when Stein was here and now they mirror that nothing there so there’s that. Ugh. Finally, post-structuralist theory continues to make poets like Laura McCulloush and Raphael Rubinstein get lost in a fun house. ** THE INTRIGUING BUT... There are some poems in the volume that really piqued my interest although they ultimately seemed flawed: Jessamyn Birrer has a deft Abecedarian poem, “A Scatology,” that unfortunately (as the title suggests) is about the anus and feces. Yikes! Thomas Sayers Ellis has a very jazzy elegiac piece written for Amiri Baraka that I can’t really say was great but I would be intrigued to hear read aloud. Hailey Leithauser once again impresses but ultimately loses it because she just can’t seem to help but dazzle herself into silliness. Claudia Rankine’s prose poems taken from her longer book-length work, “Citizen: An American Lyric,” are better within the book than as separate pieces especially since her interesting use of the second person address in the book just seems weird when you read it out of context. ** THE GOOD Balancing out the anthology are some truly exceptional poems – firstly, good narrative poems by Louise Glück, Bethany Schultz Hurst, and especially Donald Platt whose rhythm almost replicates the boxing match he narrates. I loved Sarah Arvio’s music in the opening “Bodhisattva” poem-—hard to resist rhyming nudist with Buddhist! Danielle DeTiberus clocks in with a concrete poem about her man’s black tank top (hard to pull off such a concrete poem, if you’ll pardon the pun.) Natalie Diaz has a wonderfully straight-forward poem that suddenly takes a weird and exciting turn half-way through. R.S. Gwynn has perhaps the most accomplished “formal” poem in the book, taking his cues from Kipling and Gilbert to write in dipodic meters (not the typical formal poets influencing contemporary poets and so all the more intriguing for that.) Andrew Kozma has a nice little formal piece on the housefly. Charles Simic is represented by one of the best things I’ve ever read by him -- no dark-Eastern-European-surrealist-genius posing this time, just a good heartfelt poem. A.E. Stallings also deftly uses meter and rhyme with her typical classical allusions. Finally, LaWanda Walter writes a beautiful elegy and structures the entire nostalgic piece by using Gwendolyn Brooks’ “We Real Cool” poem. (Apparently Terence Hayes has done this in another poem, but Walter certainly makes it her own.) *** All in all, not a bad anthology; Alexie clearly likes short, lyrical poems -- only 13 of the poems were longer than one or two pages and even those poems tended to be ensembles of short lyrical pieces. Can’t decide if that actually narrows the feel of the overall selection or not, but I think it is worth noting. I think Hayes’ selection last year was a bit more diverse aesthetically, but this volume would definitely rank in the upper half of the edited volumes overall. Worth reading!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Kris - My Novelesque Life

    RATING: 3 STARS (Review Not on Blog) A collection of poetry from 2015. It is a great way to discover new poets and poetry.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Peycho Kanev

    Subject to Change Let us shove the last 73 minutes down the garbage disposal and vacuum up all traces of the past 17 years and stuff them in a plastic bag and be done with them. Let’s scrape our alternative versions of everything we have learned since 1981 off the ground and flush them all down the toilet. I’m worn out by my misdeeds. My hands hurt, my fingers won’t curl anymore. I’m in the emergency room at Holy Cross hoping all is not lost. I have no one to pray to, just the vast empty sky, the black ho Subject to Change Let us shove the last 73 minutes down the garbage disposal and vacuum up all traces of the past 17 years and stuff them in a plastic bag and be done with them. Let’s scrape our alternative versions of everything we have learned since 1981 off the ground and flush them all down the toilet. I’m worn out by my misdeeds. My hands hurt, my fingers won’t curl anymore. I’m in the emergency room at Holy Cross hoping all is not lost. I have no one to pray to, just the vast empty sky, the black hole inside the black hole that swallows up everything whole. They make me lie down on the blank slate. Dr. Baker is running late. Then the nurse lifts the curse and Baker says you’re a lucky man. It could have been worse. Terence Winch

  5. 5 out of 5

    Danielle

    A previous review below was posted under my name about this book, and yet I didn't write it. What I did do was cut and paste the review I submitted to Net Galley into the Goodreads review box. (Full moon? Goodreads snafu? Stars aligning?) I actually took the time to note my favorite poems. My actual review is below: Usually, I don't go in for anthologies because I want to delve into a particular writer or full volume of poetry. What's good about this one is that the poems are accessible without b A previous review below was posted under my name about this book, and yet I didn't write it. What I did do was cut and paste the review I submitted to Net Galley into the Goodreads review box. (Full moon? Goodreads snafu? Stars aligning?) I actually took the time to note my favorite poems. My actual review is below: Usually, I don't go in for anthologies because I want to delve into a particular writer or full volume of poetry. What's good about this one is that the poems are accessible without being dumbed down and that they are interesting and complex enough for poetry lovers. Some favorites included: Melissa Barret, Chana Bloch, Jericho Brown, Denise Duhamel, James Galvin, R.S. Glynn, Terrance Hayes. Some of the poems are very long, which took me out of the experience. I just got through them so that I could get to the next one.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Andee Marley

    wtf

  7. 4 out of 5

    Sigrun Hodne

    I am in no position to judge about the quality of contemporary American poetry, but what I can say, is that the anthology The Best American Poetry 2015 comprises a handful of really great poems But hold on; this isn’t going to be a review. I only wanted to tell you about two of the poems I really liked, adored actually, two poems that made the whole book worthwhile. There is more, obviously, but those you can discover for yourself - . It Was the Animals, is written by Natalie Diaz, it was the firs I am in no position to judge about the quality of contemporary American poetry, but what I can say, is that the anthology The Best American Poetry 2015 comprises a handful of really great poems But hold on; this isn’t going to be a review. I only wanted to tell you about two of the poems I really liked, adored actually, two poems that made the whole book worthwhile. There is more, obviously, but those you can discover for yourself - . It Was the Animals, is written by Natalie Diaz, it was the first Diaz poem I ever read, but I knew instantly I had to read more. Her is how It Was the Animals begins: Today my brother brought over a piece of the ark wrapped in a white plastic grocery bag. He set the bag on my dining table, unknotted it, peeled it away, revealing a foot-long fracture of wood. He took a step back and gestured toward it with his arms and open palms —  It’s the ark, he said. You mean Noah’s ark? I asked. What other ark is there? he answered. In her own comment to the poem, Diaz writes: “Sometimes a god sends a storm or flood and it is a type of love. We gather up all the beasts, including ourselves, including our brothers, because we are built like other animals, with an instinct to survive. (…) My love for my brother is both the flood and the ark. It is what makes me want to teach him the error of his ways but also what makes me want to hold him as we ride out whatever storm is battering us. He has his animals and I have mine. They hollow us. They make us dark inside. They split us open on the rocks. At the end of it all, everything has changed—the land, the sky, the rivers, the sea—but what doesn’t change is that we are brother and sister. What never change is love.” Did you ever read anything more beautiful written by a sister for her brother? And then, on the next page, but definitively in a totally different universe, there is Denise Duhamel -- starting her telling poem Fornicating, with a quote from the Portuguese poet Adilia Lopes’ poem Weather Report: Such a beautiful Day And I’m not Fornicating (…) Kurt Vonnegut wrote That every character needs To want something Even if that something Is only a glass of water I want to fornicate (…) Would I have loved Duhamel’s poem if it was written by a man? Probably not. But a woman stating her own sexual desire in such a blunt way seems really liberating – and obviously … very frank & funny. To me it seems poetry is all about nerve, the nerve of the poem colliding and intertwining with the nerve of the reader. You never know when it will happen, but when it does – the world explodes!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Matthias Cole

    Any 'best of' selection prepends an obligatorily caveat, expounding the assembly of such a comprehensive anthology is as impossible as it is daunting. Having read the entirety of this series and similar compilations, it would seem this year had to be more difficult than most. Series Editor David Lehman continues to elevate the standard set by previous tomes in The Best American Poetry Series; this year's Editor, Sherman Alexie has culled a wider assortment of resources, extending the reader's vi Any 'best of' selection prepends an obligatorily caveat, expounding the assembly of such a comprehensive anthology is as impossible as it is daunting. Having read the entirety of this series and similar compilations, it would seem this year had to be more difficult than most. Series Editor David Lehman continues to elevate the standard set by previous tomes in The Best American Poetry Series; this year's Editor, Sherman Alexie has culled a wider assortment of resources, extending the reader's vision of what poetry can be today. A smart collection that suffers no theme, however remains focused. These anthologies are an excellent way to put poetry back in your life, and this title in particular has a bevy of great selections. Perhaps you could ask your local bookstore to hold a copy for you? Published by Scribner, September 8, 2015. Review copy received.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Steven Peck

    One of the highlights of autumn is reading this collection every year. This collection, on the whole, was one of the best, and I had few disagreements that a poem warranted inclusion in a 'Best of' volume. I've found previous year's (and I've read these since the early 90's) more uneven, with a mix of good and awful. However, that said, I found few unquestionably great poems. Usually the volume will have two or three that take my breath away. Not so this year. There was some wonderful poetry her One of the highlights of autumn is reading this collection every year. This collection, on the whole, was one of the best, and I had few disagreements that a poem warranted inclusion in a 'Best of' volume. I've found previous year's (and I've read these since the early 90's) more uneven, with a mix of good and awful. However, that said, I found few unquestionably great poems. Usually the volume will have two or three that take my breath away. Not so this year. There was some wonderful poetry here, in fact, most of it was as I said, but none that will be read in a hundred years, or maybe even five.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Judy

    I've given this book four stars, because I found some wonderful poems in it and was introduced to some poets I wasn't familiar with who are obviously worth reading. That said, many of the poems were too post-modern for my taste and some of them seemed quite gimmicky. Some that seemed exceptionally strong to me: House is an Enigma by Emma Bolden DOCTORS LIE, MAY HIDE MISTAKES by Rafael Campo On the sadness of wedding dresses by James Galvin Body and Kentucky Bourbon by Saeed Jones Party Games by Dora I've given this book four stars, because I found some wonderful poems in it and was introduced to some poets I wasn't familiar with who are obviously worth reading. That said, many of the poems were too post-modern for my taste and some of them seemed quite gimmicky. Some that seemed exceptionally strong to me: House is an Enigma by Emma Bolden DOCTORS LIE, MAY HIDE MISTAKES by Rafael Campo On the sadness of wedding dresses by James Galvin Body and Kentucky Bourbon by Saeed Jones Party Games by Dora Malech Relevant Details by Catherine Pierce So Early in the Morning by Charles Simic Ajar by A.E. Stallings Delicatessen by Michael Tyrell

  11. 4 out of 5

    Cara

    Though this collection reminded me just how much I prefer short and superficially simple poems over long and intentionally obscure ones, it was overall a delight to read. From pondering about the life cycle of a wedding dress to reading, for the first time, a poem about the end of the digestive process that wasn't crass and annoying, this book pushed me to think about things usually taken for granted or ignored. And that, I think, is exactly what a great set of poems should do.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jonna Higgins-Freese

    I was underwhelmed. Usually, when I greatly admire the guest editor, I love all the selected poems. That wasn't the case. I thought the book would be worth the price just for Alexie's essay, but then I discovered it wasn't even an essay on the state of modern poetry, it was just a collection of quotes and one of his poems.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Danielle DeTiberus

    Shameless self-promotion: my poem "In a Black Tank Top" was selected for inclusion here by Sherman Alexie!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Melek

    Review will be here on August 28, 2015.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Tristan

    So I know that this issue of The Best American Poetry is widely controversial (due to the inclusion of "The Bees, the Flowers, Jesus, Ancient Tigers, Poseidon, Adam and Eve") and that this controversy has lowered many people's opinions of the collection. That being said, I think this is one of the strongest years of the series that I have read. It's not as good as 1997 or 2014, but it is really strong--even my unmarked poems were largely not poems that I actively disliked and I marked many poems So I know that this issue of The Best American Poetry is widely controversial (due to the inclusion of "The Bees, the Flowers, Jesus, Ancient Tigers, Poseidon, Adam and Eve") and that this controversy has lowered many people's opinions of the collection. That being said, I think this is one of the strongest years of the series that I have read. It's not as good as 1997 or 2014, but it is really strong--even my unmarked poems were largely not poems that I actively disliked and I marked many poems in this collection as either very positive or middling enjoyment. The collection has lots of new names, which is gratifying--oh course there were some big names (both Best American favorites and people I don't think I've heard of but who have published widely) but some of my favorite pieces, like "Cedars of Lebanon", "A Retrograde", "In a Black Tank Top", and "Thaw" were from people who had never published a book or from people who had primarily published outside of poetry prior to these pieces. I don't know that there were any truly beginning poets--people with only one or two publications, but there were many from people who were not major players in the poetry field--people with no book or who have published one book alongside those authors who are known to most readers of poetry. My favorite pieces in the collection were Sarah Arvio's "Bodhisattva", Derrick Austin's "Cedars of Lebanon," Emma Bolden's "House is an Enigma", Catherine Bowman's "Makeshift", Jericho Brown's "Homeland", Natalie Diaz's "It Was the Animals", Louise Gluck's "A Sharply Worded Silence", Terrance Hayes's "Antebellum House Party", Bethany Shultz Hurst's "Crisis on Infinite Earths, Issues 1-12", Joan Naviyuk Kane's "Exhibits from the Dark Museum", Douglas Kearney's "In the End, They Were Born on TV", Patricia Lockwood's "See a Furious Waterfall Without Water", Airea D. Matthews's "If My Late Grandmother Were Gertrude Stein", Jamaal May's "There Are Birds Here", Rajiv Mohabir's "Dove", Catherine Pierce's "Relevant Details", Afaa Micheal Weaver's "City of Eternal Spring", and Monica Youn's "March of the Hanged Men" but those were not the only poems that I really liked. A nice collection, one that gives a fantastic picture of the possibilities of contemporary American verse.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Dima Asaad

    Day 92. Book 82. Prayer at 3 a.m by Dexter L.Booth I am still convinced there is no difference Between kneeling and falling if you don’t get up. ~~~~~ Fornicating by Denise Duhamel It’s easy to feel unbeautiful When you have unmet desires Or emabresssd that you have such desires at all ~~~~~~ In Memory of My Parents Who Are Not Dead Yet by Emily Kendal Frey If love dies, it was already dead.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Ajibola Tolase

    I'm pretty late to the party. It's a good collection, there's no unifying element which results into a wide imaginative span of writing as expected, and this sets it apart from other anthologies. In it are the best of bests, choosing a favourite from this might be a challenging task. This is definitely worth a reread.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kayla

    some of these poems were very powerful and I loved the analysis in the back. a lot of the work was not my style, so while I liked the exposure, I thought a lot of these were just okay, or they were conceptually interesting but not great reads. Still I liked it and I'm excited to read more poetry collections.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Azza

    I think this is a great collection of poems. The editors chose well and chose variety of different poems. I may not like all of them as I have my own favorite style but overall all these writers made me think and made me feel.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Ely

    There were a few poems I liked in here, but only a few.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Yoshua David

    I admit I'm new to poetry, but most of these did nothing for me. Those that did speak to me, did so very well, thus the 3 stars - otherwise, for me, the book would just be kindling.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Sophie

    Finally finishing this--editor Sherman Alexie really made for an interesting issue, and this was probably my favorite that I've ever read.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ben Pieper

    Overall, I would give this collection a B- average (technically an 80.8% avg.) as far as the quality of the poems contained. I know that attempting to quantify poetic effect/value is a ridiculous gesture, but I am simply a ridiculous person. Of course, this is purely based off of my own tastes and will not necessarily reflect your average satisfaction rate. I started a mission last month to read the last few entries in the Best American Poetry series so that I can begin to get a better sense of A Overall, I would give this collection a B- average (technically an 80.8% avg.) as far as the quality of the poems contained. I know that attempting to quantify poetic effect/value is a ridiculous gesture, but I am simply a ridiculous person. Of course, this is purely based off of my own tastes and will not necessarily reflect your average satisfaction rate. I started a mission last month to read the last few entries in the Best American Poetry series so that I can begin to get a better sense of A) what my taste in poetry is, and B) my own poetic voice. I am finding so far that I am all over the map and impressionable in both areas (I am only an amateur poet at this point, if that). Confidently, I can say that I definitely enjoyed reading Edward Hirsch's selections in BAP 2016 more consistently than I did Alexie's choices. That being said, I was happy to see that Alexie was not afraid to select poets that were not exclusively old white dudes who teach in universities. Alexie's selection brings some neglected voices into the fold. Women, people of color, and younger poets make up a significantly larger portion of BAP 2015 than BAP 2016. Unfortunately, I am assuming that previous entries in the series that I have yet to read have editors who churn out selections that are more in line with Hirsch's than Alexie's. Alexie's selections also has more rhyming/metrical madness poems than BAP 2016 has. I was glad to see that rhyming poetry (which I, while not exclusively, still like to write) still has a place and can be validated in the modern poetic landscape. It was also nice to see that a decent handful of poets who under 40 were included in this collection. I am young and I can take comfort in this if I ever choose to start submitting my poems to magazines. The following are my favorites from this collection: Masterpieces (8) "House Is an Enigma" by Emma Bolden "A Sharply Worded Silence" by Louise Glück "Looney Tunes" by R.S. Gywnn "Is Spot in Heaven?" by David Kirby "Party Games" by Dora Malech "Relevant Details" by Catherine Pierce "The Main Event" by Donald Platt "Ajar" by A.E. Stallings Masterful (8) "It Was the Animals" by Natalie Diaz "The Garden in August" by Madelyn Garner "Thumbs" by Meredith Hasemann "Antebellum House Party" by Terrence Hayes "Eating Walnuts" by Jennifer Keith "Watching the Sea Go" by Dana Levin "Anxieties" by Donna Masini "Dear Black Barbie" by Candace G. Wiley Masters Candidates (9) “Cedars of Lebanon” by Derrick Austin “WFM: Allergic to Pine-Sol, Am I the Only One” by Melissa Barrett “The Joins” by Chana Bloch "DOCTORS LIE, MAY HIDE MISTAKES" by Rafael Campo "Homeland" by Jericho Brown "Body & Kentucky Bourbon" by Saeed Jones "Ode to the Common Housefly" by Andrew Kozma "Candying Mint" by Alan Michael Parker "So Early in the Morning" by Charles Simic Overall, I would absolutely to highly recommend approx. 33.7% of the poems contained in this volume.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Amber

    I may not be classified as a die-hard poetry enthusiast, so if that matters to you, then feel free to dismiss this review. However, I do respect the art of poetry. I have written a few free verse poems when I was in high school, but was never formally trained in the poetic arts. So, that's my disclaimer of sorts. I mainly picked up this collection of poetry because of Sherman Alexie. I am very fond of his writing style and grit. But I am going to have to agree to disagree with Sherman Alexie fo I may not be classified as a die-hard poetry enthusiast, so if that matters to you, then feel free to dismiss this review. However, I do respect the art of poetry. I have written a few free verse poems when I was in high school, but was never formally trained in the poetic arts. So, that's my disclaimer of sorts. I mainly picked up this collection of poetry because of Sherman Alexie. I am very fond of his writing style and grit. But I am going to have to agree to disagree with Sherman Alexie for adding some of these poems to the best American poetry of 2015. While, I respect the poets and their poems, even when they made no sense to me, I can't help but feeling some of them were just not that great. Although, I did find many great poems, on a positive note. More than half of the poems I liked, even when I didn't get them the first time reading. Many times I would have to read the, very helpful, author notes. Here the poets would share a little information behind their poems, which then gave me a different pair of eyes to read the poem more clearly with. I found great satisfaction trying to piece together prose and clever word play to form the subliminal messages sent by these talented poets. For me it has been a great experience, to get me into the world of poetry. I would eventually like to find more books with collections of poetry. Maybe I will even check out the previous editions of this collection. I definitely feel that this is a worthwhile read, especially if you want a taste of something different. If you are an avid reader and have gone through non-fiction and fiction, the variety of genres and sub-genres, comics and manga and want something different. Maybe you crave something different, pick up some poetry. Poetry can really open up the mind. Get those wheels working and creativity flowing. It may even get you through a reading slump. Poetry is short and concise, even the longer poems are still short for a source of reading material. And despite the unassuming length those little poems sure can pack a punch and leave you reeling, long afterward, in thought.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    This the first book I have have voluntarily picked up that solely consisted of poetry. I wasn't disappointed. The range of poems made available in this edition was surprising to me and allowed for variation in reading tempo. Favorites: - WFM: Allergic to Pine-Sol, Am I the Only One by Melissa Barrett - Makeshift by Catherine Bowman - in the hall of the ruby-throated warbler by Rachel Briggs - Careful, I Just Won a Prize at the Fair by Susanna Childress - Slow-Wave Sleep with a Fairy Tale by Erica Daw This the first book I have have voluntarily picked up that solely consisted of poetry. I wasn't disappointed. The range of poems made available in this edition was surprising to me and allowed for variation in reading tempo. Favorites: - WFM: Allergic to Pine-Sol, Am I the Only One by Melissa Barrett - Makeshift by Catherine Bowman - in the hall of the ruby-throated warbler by Rachel Briggs - Careful, I Just Won a Prize at the Fair by Susanna Childress - Slow-Wave Sleep with a Fairy Tale by Erica Dawson - My Husband by Rebecca Hazelton - Crisis on Infinite Earths, Issues 1-12 by Bethany Schultz Hurst - There Are Birds Here by Jamaal May - Survivor Guilt by Ron Padgett - Ajar by A.E. Stalline - How You Might Approach a Foal: by Wendy Videlock - City of Eternal Spring by Afaa Michael Weaver

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan Tennis

    I am not a poet. And I am not a scholar with an academic focus on poetry. But I am someone who enjoys a good poem and this book is short on that. Highlights include a poem about the anus (A Scatology), the art of mending broken pottery (The Joins), a complete hysterectomy (House Is an Enigma), wedding dresses (On the Sadness of Wedding Dresses), bourbon and love (Body & Kentucky Bourbon), a traffic accident (For the Young Woman I Saw Hit by a Car While Riding Her Bike), the ruin of Detroit ( I am not a poet. And I am not a scholar with an academic focus on poetry. But I am someone who enjoys a good poem and this book is short on that. Highlights include a poem about the anus (A Scatology), the art of mending broken pottery (The Joins), a complete hysterectomy (House Is an Enigma), wedding dresses (On the Sadness of Wedding Dresses), bourbon and love (Body & Kentucky Bourbon), a traffic accident (For the Young Woman I Saw Hit by a Car While Riding Her Bike), the ruin of Detroit (There are Birds Here), and finally, a poem about Barbie sex (Dear Black Barbie). While those poems were great and I really enjoyed them, there were others that made this book a chore so much that I dread to repeat their names so I will only describe them. A poem that was just a list of Cragslist personal ads, a doctor defending his trade against the "notion" that doctors lie, a 14 line poem on sex, another poem about sex that makes me think the author never had any with another human because it was so lifeless, poem about an ark that is apparently famous but famously horrible, a love letter to the author's husband, a poem about the hazards of reality tv, a poem about candying mint (had to reveal the title to describe the horrible subject which I am sure is just too deep for me), and finally, a poem about the process of making a poem that was so boring I flipped ahead to the end to see if there was anything exciting in it before going back to the beginning and finishing this drudgery. There were some good poems that I may never have seen otherwise so the book was worth the read but it was tough to get through. Thankfully it was only ~200 pages so it won't ruin too many of your days.

  27. 5 out of 5

    SmarterLilac

    Exxxxxcellent. I was dubious at first, as the opening poems are a bit abstruse for my taste, but things picked up considerably at Joan Nuviyuk Kanes's superb "Exhibits from the Dark Museum." Astounding poem of a post-apocalyptic future. I was thrilled to find that almost all of these terrific pieces stunned and moved me. I also appreciate editor Sherman Alexie's care in selecting so much poetry with incisive, up-to-the-minute relevant subject matter, although there are a few poems in here that a Exxxxxcellent. I was dubious at first, as the opening poems are a bit abstruse for my taste, but things picked up considerably at Joan Nuviyuk Kanes's superb "Exhibits from the Dark Museum." Astounding poem of a post-apocalyptic future. I was thrilled to find that almost all of these terrific pieces stunned and moved me. I also appreciate editor Sherman Alexie's care in selecting so much poetry with incisive, up-to-the-minute relevant subject matter, although there are a few poems in here that also celebrate the quiet experience of the every day (read: aren't overtly political.) One that I love from that category is Wendy Videlock's "How You Might Approach a Foal." So great. (I wish my mother were here to read it, as it is a must for any animal lover.) Readers who like poetry that reads well out loud will note how many of these poems incorporate the ill-appreciate music of the art, a quality I have found lacking in other volumes in this series. I'm also happy that Alexie clearly perused a wide span of U.S. literary magazines, Ezines, and websites to find the poetry here. It is heartening for me to see more than a few thoroughly underrated (in my literary pod, anyway) publishers (such as Alaska Quarterly Review, which is where "Exhibits from the Dark Museum" made its appearance.) This is the kind of book that renews my faith in the future of poetry.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Robyn

    Obviously, "the best" is a subjective label, but Alexie chose a pretty great bunch for the 2015 anthology. Some (okay, 14) favorites: "WFM: Allergic to Pine-Sol, Am I the Only One" by Melissa Barrett. Published in The Journal. "Swallowed" by Mark Bibbins. Published in Lemon Hound. "A Scatology" by Jessamyn Birrer. Published in Ninth Letter. "Prayer at 3 a.m." by Dexter L. Booth. Published in The Volta. "Slow-Wave Sleep with a Fairy Tale" by Erica Dawson. Published in Tupelo Quarterly. "On the Sadness Obviously, "the best" is a subjective label, but Alexie chose a pretty great bunch for the 2015 anthology. Some (okay, 14) favorites: "WFM: Allergic to Pine-Sol, Am I the Only One" by Melissa Barrett. Published in The Journal. "Swallowed" by Mark Bibbins. Published in Lemon Hound. "A Scatology" by Jessamyn Birrer. Published in Ninth Letter. "Prayer at 3 a.m." by Dexter L. Booth. Published in The Volta. "Slow-Wave Sleep with a Fairy Tale" by Erica Dawson. Published in Tupelo Quarterly. "On the Sadness of Wedding Dresses" by James Galvin. Published in the Iowa Review. "The Garden in August" by Madelyn Garner. Published in PMS: poemmemoirstory. "Looney Tunes" by R.S. Gwynn. Published in Able Muse. "Antebellum House Party" by Terrence Hayes. Published in the New Yorker. "For the Young Woman I Saw Hit by a Car While Riding Her Bike" by Laura Kasischke. Published in Post Road. "Ode to the Common Housefly" by Andrew Kozma. Published in Subtropics. "Anxieties" by Donna Masini. Published in Poem-a-Day. "There Are Birds Here" by Jamaal May. Published in Poetry. "There Were Only Dandelions" by Laura McCullough. Published in Verse Daily.

  29. 5 out of 5

    April

    We used this book in the creative writing class I'm taking this semester. I'm new to poetry and have a hard time appreciating more abstract poetry. I liked reading the contributors' notes in the back, which, along with class discussions, helped shed some light on some of the more mystifying poems and made me appreciate them more. Some of the poems I enjoyed without having to read the contributor's notes: - "Makeshift" - "Dear Black Barbie" - "Trades I Would Make" - "On the Sadness of Wedding Dresses" We used this book in the creative writing class I'm taking this semester. I'm new to poetry and have a hard time appreciating more abstract poetry. I liked reading the contributors' notes in the back, which, along with class discussions, helped shed some light on some of the more mystifying poems and made me appreciate them more. Some of the poems I enjoyed without having to read the contributor's notes: - "Makeshift" - "Dear Black Barbie" - "Trades I Would Make" - "On the Sadness of Wedding Dresses" - "Bodhisattva" - "The Joins" - "For the Young Woman I saw Hit by a Car While Riding Her Bike" - "Party Games" - "So Early in the Morning" - "Ajar" And shame about the Michael Derrick Hudson poem. Understandable why he needed to use such devious methods to get his poem published, as it was not much of a poem to publish. However, I think it brought to light an important issue within the poetry/writing community about privilege, publishing, and race/ethnicity. Hopefully all the shaming will deter future race appropriators.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Daniel J

    Alexie's writing aesthetic, as funny as it is emotionally relatable, as clear and as readable, translates well into his abilities as a guest editor. The poems here are perhaps the best chosen of any yearly Best American Poetry series I've read (and I've read a handful). It also doesn't hurt that he included my all-time favorite poet Douglas Kearney and his "In the End, They were Born on TV." Others I dog-eared in my book: "Swallowed," Mark Bibbins "The Joins," Chana Bloch "House is an Enigma," Emma Alexie's writing aesthetic, as funny as it is emotionally relatable, as clear and as readable, translates well into his abilities as a guest editor. The poems here are perhaps the best chosen of any yearly Best American Poetry series I've read (and I've read a handful). It also doesn't hurt that he included my all-time favorite poet Douglas Kearney and his "In the End, They were Born on TV." Others I dog-eared in my book: "Swallowed," Mark Bibbins "The Joins," Chana Bloch "House is an Enigma," Emma Bolden "Careful, I just Won a Prize at the Fair" Susanna Childress "The Bees, the Flowers..." Yi-Fen Chou (Michael Derrick Hudson) "Fornicating," Denise Duhamel "On the Sadness of Wedding Dresses," James Galvin "Rhinencephalon," Amy Gerstler "Crisis on Infinite Earths, Issues 1-12," Bethany Schultz Hurst "Body & Kentucky Bourbon," Saeed Jones "Eating Walnuts," Jennifer Keith "Anxieties," Donna Masini "So Early in the Morning," Charles Simic "Dear Black Barbie," Candace G. Wiley

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