As Mr. Pinsky noted in his introductory remarks,The Best American Poetry series, which Mr. Lehman started in 1988, has filled an important cultural place in society. It acts out what Mr. Pinsky described as a “significant cultural process,” whereby artists confer recognition upon other artists — a process of discovery and advocacy responsible for the reputations of John Donne, Gerard Manley Hopkins, to name but two poets who were once overlooked.
The Best of the Best American Poetry is a collection of 100 poems selected from the nearly 2000 already published in the anthology’s twenty-five-year existence. The LA times called it an embarrassment of riches, and the lineup of poets who read on Thursday night was certainly that. From Richard Howard to Marie Howe to Yusef Komunyakaa, the range and quality of voices was nothing short of exceptional.
Mark Doty began the evening with his hypnotic poem “Difference,” which opens with a description of jellyfish floating in a Massachusetts harbor.