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Overheard

Blast from the Past: Rigoberto González tells his truth about BAP 2007

BAP 07<<<
’Fess up. You bought a copy.

I did this year, anyway. I actually buy the essay and short story anthologies in the Scribner Best of series year after year without fail because I tend to use them as inexpensive readers for my writing students, but I’m more selective with the poetry volumes of the same series. In fact, when I took inventory from my personal bookshelf, I only have (or kept) the volumes edited by Adrienne Rich, Rita Dove and Yusef Komunyakaa. I refused to buy the edition The Best of the Best, which was edited by Harold Bloom, who excluded anything from Rich’s selections and then gave a lame explanation for it. I do remember buying the anthology edited by Lyn Hejinian, mostly out of curiosity, though I didn’t keep it.

Why am I so picky with the poetry series? Maybe it’s the fact that I’ve never been included. . . 

(though I was short listed for the Best American Essays once). I tell myself (just like I tell my students) that this is one editor’s selections and therefore quite subjective. I tell myself that I really don’t care that I can’t put that little gem of a recognition on my CV or even in my bio. I tell myself that when I read the list of contributors in the collection listed on the back cover, that it’s more out of interest and not because I’m looking to make crazy gesticulations like “Her!”.

This year, the volume is edited by Heather McHugh, a poet I read, respect and admire, so out of my loyalty to her work and her politics I bought my yellow copy with the Lichtenstein graphic on the cover. The purchase was further encouraged by the fact that I recognized a few of the names: Kazim Ali, Denise Duhamel, Peter Pereira, Natasha Sajé—friends who are heretofore demoted to acquaintances because I’m so jealous. (Kidding, kiddos!)
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Click here for more: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/harriet-books/2007/10/the-best-american-poetry-2007. "If criticism has degenerated into blurbery, the serious conversation takes place covertly, and sometimes noxiously" -- Freddy Chervil


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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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