Now celebrating its tenth anniversary, The Best American Poetry is the one indispensable volume for readers eager to follow what's new in poetry today. Sales continue to grow and plaudits keep coming in for this "high-voltage testament to the vitality of American poetry" (Booklist). Selected by prizewinning guest editor James Tate, the seventy-five best poems of the year were chosen from more than three dozen magazines and range from the comic to the cosmic, from the contemplative to the sublime. In addition to showcasing our leading bards -- such as John Ashbery, Jorie Graham, Robert Hass, and Mark Strand -- the collection marks an auspicious debut for eye-opening younger poets. With comments from the poets themselves offering insights into their work, The Best American Poetry 1997 delivers the startling and imaginative writing that more and more people have come to expect from this prestigious series.
Rich has amassed a far-flung group to represent her view of America. These poets were born in Jamaica, China, Mexico, South Africa, Canada, Hawaii and the mainland. There are professors and prisoners, a medical student and a jazz critic. Rich embraces both the bilingual and the long poem, but what is truly startling is how little these poets say of joy and how much of suffering. It is a heavy read. Alicia Ostriker writes of the Holocaust, Wang Ping of the deaths of Chinese stowaways, Gary Soto of the destitute. There are three poets born after 1975, testing human experience and response: Deborah Stein, Quentin Rowan and Natasha Le Bel ("my born body new and/ gravid with musical sensuality"). And four poets who passed away last year haunt the anthology with meditations on death: William Dickey, Jane Kenyon, James Merrill and Jean Starr ("I have felt each living link begin to wither"). David Lehman is the series editor.