"Poetry encourages us to have dialogue through the observed, the felt, and the imaginary," writes editor Yusef Komunyakaa in his thought-provoking introduction to The Best American Poetry 2003. As a black child of the American South and a decorated veteran of the Vietnam War, Komunyakaa brings his singular vision to this outstanding volume. Included here is a diverse mix of senior masters, crowd-pleasing bards, rising stars, and the fresh voices of an emerging generation. With comments from the poets elucidating their work and series editor David Lehman's eloquent foreword assessing the state of the art, The Best American Poetry 2003 is a must-have for readers of contemporary poetry.
Jonathan Aaron · Beth Anderson · Nin Andrews · Wendell Berry · Frank Bidart · Diann Blakely · Bruce Bond · Catherine Bowman · Rosemary Catacalos · Joshua Clover · Billy Collins · Michael S. Collins · Carl Dennis · Susan Dickman · Rita Dove · Stephen Dunn · Stuart Dybek · Charles Fort · James Galvin · Amy Gerstler · Louise Glück · Michael Goldman · Ray Gonzalez · Linda Gregg · Mark Halliday · Michael S. Harper · Matthea Harvey · George Higgins · Edward Hirsch · Tony Hoagland · Richard Howard · Rodney Jones · Joy Katz · Brigit Pegeen Kelly · Galway Kinnell · Carolyn Kizer · Jennifer L. Knox · Kenneth Koch · John Koethe · Ted Kooser · Philip Levine · J. D. McClatchy · W. S. Merwin · Heather Moss · Stanley Moss · Paul Muldoon · Peggy Munson · Marilyn Nelson · Daniel Nester · Naomi Shihab Nye · Ishle Yi Park · Robert Pinsky · Kevin Prufer · Ed Roberson · Vijay Seshadri · Alan Shapiro · Myra Shapiro · Bruce Smith · Charlie Smith · Maura Stanton · Ruth Stone · James Tate · William Tremblay · Natasha Trethewey · David Wagoner · Ronald Wallace · Lewis Warsh · Susan Wheeler · Richard Wilbur · C. K. Williams · Terence Winch · David Wojahn Robert Wrigley · Anna Ziegler · Ahmos Zu-Bolton II
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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. His most recent nonfiction book is Sinatra’s Century. He teaches at The New School and lives in New York City and Ithaca, New York.From Publishers Weekly:
By now readers are able to peruse these volumes with the sort of familiar affection given to the beloved family nuisance. This year, series editor David Lehman's temperature-taking preface reminds us of Ruth Lilly's colossal $100 million bequest to Poetry Magazine, and notes that you can now collect poet cards and purchase poet swimsuit calendars. The contributors' notes at the back of the book eat up more available pages than usual as they recount what particular works of art or jazz tracks made the authors write their "best" poems, while a modest voice indicates that this marks their 8th or 10th appearance in the series. Guest editor Komunyakaa (Neon Vernacular, 1994) argues that the avant-garde, which he terms the "exploratory" movement, exists as "a poetry that borders on cultivated solecism and begs theorists to decipher it" and that it is "death in language"; by contrast, the poetry he has chosen "has content." Finally, the poems themselves appear; here are fresh gems from Richard Howard, W. S. Merwin, Galway Kinnell (a spectacular threnody on the fall of New York's World Trade Center towers), Carolyn Kizer, Rita Dove, Richard Wilbur, James Tate, Louise Gleck, Philip Levine, C.K. Williams, and the three most recent Pulitzer Prize winners, Stephen Dunn, Carl Dennis and Paul Muldoon. Two other poets stand out-Amy Gerstler contributes an amusing Gilda Radner-like piece about misreading a mailer that wants to send her "Beethoven's Greatest Symphonies," while Ruth Stone (b. 1915) gives the proceedings a suitably youthful air with her speculative "Lines": "Voice, perhaps you are the universe;/ the hum of spiders." Nowhere near as lively as last year's Robert Creeley-edited compilation, the 16th edition of this annual has pleasures of its own.
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