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« "An Epiphany": poem by Nicole Santalucia, art by David Lehman | Main | Leon Uris and the Power of Words (by Larry Epstein) »

November 08, 2010


In no particular order:

Song of Napalm by Bruce Weigl
Having It Out with Melancholy by Jane Kenyon
Broadway by Mark Doty
in the thirty-eighth year of my life by Lucille Clifton
The Colonel by Carolyn Forche

This is a great question. I'm going to think about it for awhile before posting my picks.

The Battlefield Where the Moon Says I Love You by Frank Stanford (383 page poem)

Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror by John Ashbery

Garbage by AR Ammons (I think it's all one poem)

The Nomad Flute by WS Merwin

Lost in Translation by James Merrill

What years count as contemporary?

Steven: poems written after 1970.

"A History of the American West" by Kevin Prufer; "Nox" by Anne Carson (if we're going for North American, not just the USA);
"Paschal Lamb" by Robert Hass; "A Brief for the Defense" by Jack Gilbert; "Bright Existence" by Brenda Hillman

Merrill's Lost In Translation for sure.
I'd speculate Schnackenberg's "Supernatural Love" will have staying power.
Amy Clampitt... "Beach Glass" maybe, or "Anatomy of Migraine"

hecht and justice will always be taught. i'm having a hard time imagining what i'd narrow it down to if i wrote the syllabus. :-)

This is going to be difficult to narrow down. More difficult than in previous centuries because there are so many more different kinds of poetic voices now. It wasn't until the Modernists that a true avant garde poetic sensibility found an audience.(Exceptions, of course, in Whitman and Dickinson.) So what we will probably end up with, in our post-Post-Modern world, is a collection of different lists of "iconic" poems - poems that resonate deeply with different groups and kinds of people.

A terrific question -- you can curate a whole symposium weekend around it. I'd find it hard to limit myself to five or even ten. I immediately start with Ashbery's "Self-Portrait," Ammons's "Sphere" or possibly "Glare," Merrill's "Book of Ephraim," O'Hara's "Why I Am Not a Painter," Bishop's "Crusoe in America," and I haven't even gotten to Schuyler and Koch and to poems and poets more recent. I am very glad to learn of your enthusiasm for "The Man on the Dump," which I agree is not anthologized often enough. I included it in "The Oxford Book of American Poetry."

I'd do that symposium, Laura . . .

"A Story about the Body" Robert Hass
"What do Women Want" Kim Addonizio
"Remember" Joy Harjo
"You Bring Out the Mexican in Me" Sandra Cisneros
"How to Write the Great American Indian Novel" Sherman Alexie

Dean - I'd be the first to sign up if you do!

Anything by Frederick Seidel!!!!! He's so Modern America.

Also I also love Paschal Lamb by Robert Hass and agree with one of the other commenters on that. It's one of my favorite poems ever.

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I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman


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