Best American Poetry 2016
An excellent way to introduce oneself to new writers is to purchase an annual collection, The Best of. In this collection, there is something for every poetry lover, but a few of the poems stopped me in my tracks. On page four, Rick Barot writes a historical fiction poem about Walt Whitman, a speculation on Whitman’s teaching career and sexuality. The poem is open to many interpretations: was the main character railroaded or was he guilty of being a pedophile?
The poet Jeffrey Harrison’s “Afterword” is a beautiful elegy. Although the editor’s comments about poetry are interesting and readable, Edward Hirsch’s comments seem backward-looking. There are many prose poems included in this book. This volume is also notable for the inclusion of many women poets, who historically have been omitted from such collections. There are at least thirty-four poetesses featured in these pages. That alone is a very good reason for purchasing the book and why it will make it a very wonderful gift for the poetry lover in your life — even if it is you.
David Lehman, Edward Hirsch