Vic Fleming's review of The Best American Poetry 2011 appeared in yesterday's Memphis Daily News. Click here for the whole column.
I love these collections, which have been coming out since 1988. The forewords and introductions alone are worth the price of admission, which, for me is the cost of a library card.
Lehman’s foreword in the current edition could be titled “What is Poetry and Why?” The essay reads like a series of poems. And provides a dozen or more pithy definitional remarks about poetry. E.g., “a pheasant disappearing in the brush” (Wallace Stevens); “spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings (Wordsworth); “what gets lost in translation” (Frost); “strips the veil of familiarity from the world and lays bare the naked and sleeping beauty” (Shelley).
Noting that “American poetry today is as plentiful as it is diverse, Lehman wraps: “To the extent that we can bring to the publishing of poetry the same imaginative energy that goes into the writing of a poem, we will have succeeded in doing something important … .”
Vic Fleming (pictured above) is " a district court judge in Little Rock, Ark., where he also teaches at the William H. Bowen School of Law."