David Wagoner writes about regular lives with plain grace and transcendent humanity, and the seventy-five poems he has chosen for the 2009 edition of The Best American Poetry grapple with life, celebrate freedom, and teem with imaginative energy. With engaging notes from the poets, Wagoner's superb introductory essay, series editor David Lehman's astute foreword about the current state of poetry and criticism, and cover art from the beloved poet John Ashbery, The Best American Poetry 2009 is a memorable and delightful addition to a series dedicated to showcasing the work of poets at their best.
From the moment series editor David Lehman invokes the myth of Jacob wrestling the Angel in his introduction, the gloves are off in this year's installment of this popular annual anthology. Lehman devotes much of his introduction to throwing jabs at longtime sparring partner and professional poetry grump William Logan, whom Lehman calls “wounded” and “thin skinned.” Guest editor Wagoner chooses to abstain from the scuffle, but there's no denying the aesthetic character amassed by the poems he's selected: American poets not only want to talk about their country this year, they want to talk violence in (and toward) their country. “They came to blow up America,” writes John Ashbery, followed hard on his heels by Mark Bibbins, who warns our fifth state, “Connecticut! we're sawing you in half.” Denise Duhamel envisions “How It Will End” (“We look around, but no one is watching us”) and Rob Cook, in his bold and incantatory “Song of America,” tells us, “I'm raising my child to drown and drop dead and to carry buildings on his back.” It appears our poets are at last ready to confront the hysteria and violence of the past eight years, and who can say there's a better year than 2009 to begin. (Sept.)
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Title: The Best American Poetry 2009
Author: David Wagoner
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group
Date Published: September 2009
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