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Edited by Pulitzer Prize-winner and nineteenth US Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey, The Best American Poetry 2017 brings together the most notable poems of the year in the series that offers a vivid snapshot of what a distinguished poet finds exciting, fresh, and memorable (Robert Pinsky). Librarian of Congress James Billington says Natasha Trethewey consistently and Edited by Pulitzer Prize-winner and nineteenth US Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey, The Best American Poetry 2017 brings together the most notable poems of the year in the series that offers “a vivid snapshot of what a distinguished poet finds exciting, fresh, and memorable” (Robert Pinsky). Librarian of Congress James Billington says Natasha Trethewey “consistently and dramatically expanded the power” of the role of US Poet Laureate, holding office hours with the public, traveling the country, and reaching millions through her innovative PBS NewsHour segment “Where Poetry Lives.” Marilyn Nelson says “the wide scope of Trethewey’s interests and her adept handling of form have created an opus of classics both elegant and necessary.” With her selections and introductory essay for The Best American Poetry 2017, Trethewey will be highlighting even more “elegant and necessary” poems and poets, adding to the national conversation of verse and its role in our culture. The Best American Poetry is not just another anthology; it serves as a guide to who’s who and what’s happening in American poetry and is an eagerly awaited publishing event each year. With Trethewey’s insightful touch and genius for plumbing the depths of history and personal experience to shape striking verse, The Best American Poetry 2017 is another brilliant addition to the series.


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Edited by Pulitzer Prize-winner and nineteenth US Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey, The Best American Poetry 2017 brings together the most notable poems of the year in the series that offers a vivid snapshot of what a distinguished poet finds exciting, fresh, and memorable (Robert Pinsky). Librarian of Congress James Billington says Natasha Trethewey consistently and Edited by Pulitzer Prize-winner and nineteenth US Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey, The Best American Poetry 2017 brings together the most notable poems of the year in the series that offers “a vivid snapshot of what a distinguished poet finds exciting, fresh, and memorable” (Robert Pinsky). Librarian of Congress James Billington says Natasha Trethewey “consistently and dramatically expanded the power” of the role of US Poet Laureate, holding office hours with the public, traveling the country, and reaching millions through her innovative PBS NewsHour segment “Where Poetry Lives.” Marilyn Nelson says “the wide scope of Trethewey’s interests and her adept handling of form have created an opus of classics both elegant and necessary.” With her selections and introductory essay for The Best American Poetry 2017, Trethewey will be highlighting even more “elegant and necessary” poems and poets, adding to the national conversation of verse and its role in our culture. The Best American Poetry is not just another anthology; it serves as a guide to who’s who and what’s happening in American poetry and is an eagerly awaited publishing event each year. With Trethewey’s insightful touch and genius for plumbing the depths of history and personal experience to shape striking verse, The Best American Poetry 2017 is another brilliant addition to the series.

30 review for Best American Poetry 2017

  1. 4 out of 5

    Peycho Kanev

    James Valvis Something The minute the doctor says colon cancer you hardly hear anything else. He says other things, something about something. Tests need to be done, but with the symptoms and family something, excess weight, something about smoking, all of that together means something something something something, his voice a dumb hum like the sound of surf you know must be pounding, but the glass window that has dropped down between you allows only a muffled hiss like something something. He writes a James Valvis Something The minute the doctor says colon cancer you hardly hear anything else. He says other things, something about something. Tests need to be done, but with the symptoms and family something, excess weight, something about smoking, all of that together means something something something something, his voice a dumb hum like the sound of surf you know must be pounding, but the glass window that has dropped down between you allows only a muffled hiss like something something. He writes a prescription for something, which might be needed, he admits. He hands you something, says something, says goodbye, and you say something. In the car your wife says something something and something about dinner, about needing to eat, and the doctor wanting tests doesn’t mean anything, nothing, and something something something about not borrowing trouble or something. You pull into a restaurant where you do not eat but sit watching her eat something, two plates of something, blurry in an afternoon sun thick as ketchup, as you drink a glass of something-cola and try to recall what the doctor said about something he said was important, a grave matter of something or something else.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Ken

    Uneven. (How odd!) If you care enough to jump down a rabbit hole, the full review can be found on my award-winning blog.* * awards given out by my dog in exchange for kibble

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jeimy

    As with any poetic anthology there are hits and there are misses. What fascinated me were the poems that Tretheway, the guest editor, chose. It felt like she is allowing the reader into her concerns about identity, politics, religion, and race relations. Ultimately, this was a satisfying read.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    Favorites: Nickole Brown, "The Dead" Allison Cobb, "I Forgive You" Michael Collier, "A Wild Tom Turkey" Aracelis Girmay, "from The Black Maria" John Murillo, "Upon Reading That Eric Dolphy Transcribed Even the Calls of Certain Species of Birds," Joyce Carol Oates, "To Marlon Brando in Hell" Matthew Olzmann, "Letter Beginning with Two Lines by Czesław Miłosz" Danez Smith, "last summer of innocence" Maggie Smith, "Good Bones"

  5. 4 out of 5

    Alarie

    I rarely enjoy these best compilations. This series has disappointed me so many times, even when the guest editor was a favorite poet, that Id decided against ever purchasing it again. Fortunately, my husband didnt know that. He knows I own all Tretheweys books, so he bought this collection for me. I loved it: not every poem, of course, but a surprising majority. Given our troubling year and Tretheweys role in speaking of racial problems, it isnt surprising how many of the poems are activist I rarely enjoy these “best” compilations. This series has disappointed me so many times, even when the guest editor was a favorite poet, that I’d decided against ever purchasing it again. Fortunately, my husband didn’t know that. He knows I own all Trethewey’s books, so he bought this collection for me. I loved it: not every poem, of course, but a surprising majority. Given our troubling year and Trethewey’s role in speaking of racial problems, it isn’t surprising how many of the poems are activist poems, pulling our skeletons out of the closets. Yet they're powerful, eye-opening, and fresh with many different approaches: for example, Tony Hoagland’s poem about his father, “Cause of Death: Fox News.” “White” by Judson Mitcham, exams a savage murder of four black people, husbands with their wives, in 1946, two years before his birth, five miles from his grandmother’s home. He breaks the silence perpetrated by the previous generation that shielded white children from the ugly truth, which was also my experience growing up in the South. In “Bullet Points” by Jericho Brown, he begins, “I will not shoot myself,” heading off in advance any lies that may be perpetrated if he suddenly dies in an encounter with the police. This is no one-note collection, though. Contrasts make good poems even better. In “Good Bones,” Maggie Smith begins, “Life is short, though I keep this from my children,” then goes on to name many of the other bad things she attempts to shelter them from. Michael Collier lightens the mood with “A Wild Tom Turkey,” describing the tom’s mating dance. Be sure to read Collier’s author notes, too, they’re as entertaining as the poem. “Something” by James Valis is a poem most of us can identify with. He repeats “something” even “something something something” throughout the poem to illustrate how we can’t take in anything more after a doctor announces bad news. Too much repetition in a poem often annoys me, but it makes wonderful sense here, even lightens the mood: his wife eats “two plates of something.” His author’s notes are also a must read. If you are a poet in this collection and I didn’t name you, there’s a good chance there’s a star by your name in my Contents.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    Uneven, and about as subjective as it gets, which is to be expected in any editor selected compilation. The L*A*N*G*U*A*G*E poets and their interminable lists and prompt-based workshop poems get a little too much burn here, but in between Tretheway's obvious inside pool picks from her schools and pals, there are some brilliant poems. The best of the best, in my opinion come from Aracelis Girmay, Kevin Young, and the sublime John Murillo. Would have liked to have seen more in here from the Cave Uneven, and about as subjective as it gets, which is to be expected in any editor selected compilation. The L*A*N*G*U*A*G*E poets and their interminable lists and prompt-based workshop poems get a little too much burn here, but in between Tretheway's obvious inside pool picks from her schools and pals, there are some brilliant poems. The best of the best, in my opinion come from Aracelis Girmay, Kevin Young, and the sublime John Murillo. Would have liked to have seen more in here from the Cave Canem poets, who are the most vital voices in American poetry today.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Ace Boggess

    As with every edition of BAP, I'm not fond of every poem in here, but I love and connect with the majority of them, while recognizing what qualities this year's editor sees in the rest. It's an outstanding edition. Series Editor David Lehman's introduction is likely his best in several years, especially while musing on the debate over Bob Dylan's Novel win. Enough said. You know you're going to buy this book, so just do it already.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Terri

    The Best American Poetry 2017 is a diverse collection of work that hits on a bit of everything from politics and race to personal relationships and contemplation. The collection also includes a wide range of writing styles that can appeal to every poetry reader's appetite. There wasn't a single poem that stuck out to me as being a true masterpiece of the collection, but I will say that the collection as a whole is worth checking out--and much better than the 2016 collection. What I'm surprised The Best American Poetry 2017 is a diverse collection of work that hits on a bit of everything from politics and race to personal relationships and contemplation. The collection also includes a wide range of writing styles that can appeal to every poetry reader's appetite. There wasn't a single poem that stuck out to me as being a true masterpiece of the collection, but I will say that the collection as a whole is worth checking out--and much better than the 2016 collection. What I'm surprised about with this collection is the diverse style, range and subject matter, considering the small number of publications included from where these pieces were originally published. Those who enjoy reading poetry should be able to find a few pieces they like. *Book provided by Net Galley

  9. 4 out of 5

    Dan Wilcox

    Find out what I think by coming to the review of this book I will be presenting in the Book Talk Series sponsored by the Friends of the Albany Public Library at 12:15, Tuesday, September 26, 2017, at the Albany Public Library Washington Ave. Branch, Albany, NY -- free! & refreshments!

  10. 4 out of 5

    David Alexander

    The Best American Poetry 2017 Saturday, November 18, 2017 8:51 PM As a whole, this anthology was rewarding. Many of the poems consist of kinds of lists, or naming. I think of Adam naming the animals in the garden of Eden. When this was combined with a compelling story, it tended to carry me more. "Weapons Discharge Report" and "I Forgive You" seem similar in such an approach, a cataloguing of physical aspects, absorbing because well done, but perhaps not that illuminating. A further desiccation of The Best American Poetry 2017 Saturday, November 18, 2017 8:51 PM As a whole, this anthology was rewarding. Many of the poems consist of kinds of lists, or naming. I think of Adam naming the animals in the garden of Eden. When this was combined with a compelling story, it tended to carry me more. "Weapons Discharge Report" and "I Forgive You" seem similar in such an approach, a cataloguing of physical aspects, absorbing because well done, but perhaps not that illuminating. A further desiccation of the lyric? Poetry gradually limited to the short lyrical poem, and then to listicals? But that is unkind to the brave, the few. Just showing up to poetry seems to take ganas in this climate. The racial themed poems varied in quality. While some struck me as fine and effective works, it does not escape me that this is an obligatory obsession of liberalism and a subject that tends to be automatically rewarded with a badge of profundity. A sign that this is so is that injustice is permitted so long as it is in protest of this vice. Perhaps this can be seen in the choice to include in the anthology Jericho Brown's "Bullet Points," a poem which contains overt bigotry against police: "I promise that if you hear/ Of me dead anywhere near/ A cop, then that cop killed me. He took/ Me from us and left my body…" The choice to include the poem coddles irrational animus against police. In this, I have no praise for the anthology. Some poems my mind returned to for some aspect of the poem, maybe not the whole poem: John Brehm's "Intrigue in the Trees", Mary Jo Bang's "Admission," John Ashberry's "Commotion of Birds," Isaac Cates's "Fidelity and the Dead Singer" and Pamela Sutton's "Afraid to Pray." There are many others and generally I at least derived something from the poems included in the anthology. I had formed prior, negative impressions of Billy Collins and Joyce Carol Oates' work but from the further exposure to them in this anthology, my judgment is mitigated. I like the element of play in Collins's poetry and it reminds me of Wislawa Szymborksa, whose poetry I rather like, though they are very different in other ways. I might give him another shot. Lucky me, because he seems to be one of the few poets on the radar in my public library system. It is impressive that John Ashberry has been writing poetry and publishing poetry for 60 years. It is grievous that my public library does not even recognize the name "Ashberry." I'd like to explore him more, but it will be without the help of the Baltimore Country Public Library system. When I consider the place of poetry in our culture, I am tempted to shield poetry from healthy criticism (including my own) because it seems like a slaughter out there, a towering obelisk of incomprehension and indifference. But culture needs poets to grapple with first things, and for their works to be ready when the soul opens. The soul should always stand ajar, that if the Heaven call, He will not be kept waiting, as Emily Dickinson noted, but unfortunately, the soul is often preoccupied with leisureless divertissement and work. Desertification of culture should not be aided by poets indulging in despair! There are some old friends (they have no idea who I am) appearing in the anthology. Christian Wiman (I have read most of the books he has published that I am aware of) and A. E. Stallings. I see some I ought to explore too such as Charles Simic and Philip Levine. The soul selects its own society and I do not pretend to have a pure take on the poems or to have given each their proper due. But some found accesses to me, windows through which they spoke. But I am also challenged by some to poke my head out the window and register others' pain and insights from perspectives foreign to me.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Greg

    This anthology contains one poem that I really liked, by Robert Conquest: "There was a great Marxist called Lenin Who did two or three million men in. That's a lot to have done in But where he did one in That grand Marxist Stalin did ten in." The only problem is that this limerick, the best in the book, occurs in the Preface written by the editor of this series. Apparently David Lehman is the "series editor" and Natasha Trethewey is the "guest editor," and she chose the poems for this piece. So This anthology contains one poem that I really liked, by Robert Conquest: "There was a great Marxist called Lenin Who did two or three million men in. That's a lot to have done in But where he did one in That grand Marxist Stalin did ten in." The only problem is that this limerick, the best in the book, occurs in the Preface written by the editor of this series. Apparently David Lehman is the "series editor" and Natasha Trethewey is the "guest editor," and she chose the poems for this piece. So it's possible that I happened to land on a year where the editor and I have wildly divergent tastes in poetry. What did I expect from the book? Well, I don't know the work of many living authors, so I just wanted to get a feel for what the modern American style is and see some names that I might follow up on later, if their work seemed promising. I was gratified in a mixed way in the preface when David Lehman gave a full-throated defense of Bob Dylan's Nobel prize, even though I'm still not sure that I personally agree with his selection, as I think Leonard Cohen's literary accomplishments are superior to Bob Dylan's, but I think it is fair and true to say that there are cases where some of our most skilled poets are working as songwriters, and the fact that the poems are put to music is not of itself a valid dismissal of their poesy. I was disconcerted to read, though, that some people feel that for something to be poetry, it has to work "on the page," and therefore a work that is primarily received auditorially is not poetry. Rubbish. I suppose there are several ways of defining what poetry is, and this anthology makes one wonder in almost every poem, "Is this really a poem at all?" What most of these are, are short prose passages with extra line breaks. They are not generally marked by any sort of lyrical cadence, rhyme, plays on word, or succinct construction. The poem "Emanations" by David St. John, whom I don't mean to call out as being particularly flagrant, because he is merely representative, writes, "I was taking Evangeline to rehab in Pacific Grove twenty years ago/a place near Point Pinos Lighthouse". It is hard for me to imagine under what division scheme between poetry and prose this sentence lands on the poetry side. They're not all short prose essays--there are also lists. I have a special contempt for list poems, like "Things that Break" by Jamaal May. Again, not trying to say he's uniquely bad, just representative. I was disappointed at the two-note thematic approach to the collection. We have poems of racial and political outrage and generally morose navel-gazing poems, often plying the not-oft-enough-maligned trade of drawing lines of thematic insight between two very tenuously connected events, such as a snowstorm and spiritual exhaustion ("I Went for a Walk in Winter," Sherod Santos) or viewing an exhibition of ruined planes in Hanoi with the recent revelation of one's heart condition ("Assemblage of Ruined Plane Parts, Vietname Military Museum, Hanoi" by Paisley Rekdal.) I don't mean to be savage, but there's not much in here that's good or even interesting. But maybe it depends on what you think poetry is and what you like. I am not a scholar of poetry, but for me, poetry is essentially verbal and auditory. It was, I would think, an aide to memorizing passages, with rhyme and meter allowing for easier retention and recall, the first rhyme implying the second, the cadence recalling to you the exact words and phrasing chosen, as other manners of expressing the same meaning won't fit. For this reason, in my opinion, it's no stretch to call song lyrics poetry. Music with lyrics isn't necessarily poetry, but I think lots of inventive lyricists fit the bill in this day and age. However, in these poems, there is no cadence and it's too much to ask for rhyme. The long-serving forms are usually ignored, the evident compression of meaning one finds in the sonnets of Shakespeare is absent, and emotional expression, but always of profound emotions, is the order of the day. As if it were the intentions that made the poem great, the poem that the poet was trying to write, but not the poem that was actually written, that we should be giving credit for. As if it were too much to ask that the poem be honed and sharpened, and then once again, and then again, until the edges are perfectly straight and the burrs filed off. It's a sharp knife we're wanting, but we're getting a serrated blade instead, something that doesn't cleave but hacks through, and the poets hold up the raggedy slice to our eyes and say "Gets the job done." WELL GET BENT, BECAUSE I DON'T WANT RAGGEDY SLICES! Getting serious, though, if this is the best that America had on offer last year, I am very sad. Update: I found the quote I was looking for to put the paragraph previous to the previous one beside its textual justification. On talking about Bob Dylan's nobel prize, Lehman praises his allusions, his sense for the zeitgeist, his visionary lines, or how convincing are the airs that Dylan puts on as an artist in the songs. He then says that "The rhymes in 'Like a Rolling Stone' and 'I Want You' prove that there is still a lot of life left in that venerable device." That "venerable device?" It's exactly Lehman's attitude toward poetry that I'm protesting in this review. What he praises is Dylan's expression, but not Dylan's craftmanship. It is that latter trait that is uniquely strong in Dylan's case. Example: "Standing on the water, casting your bread While the eyes of the idol with the iron head are glowing. Distant ships sailing into the mist You were born with a snake in both of your fists while a hurricane was blowing." -"Jokerman," Bob Dylan Ignore for a second the imagery and focus solely on the sounds--the repetition of "isses" -- "ships," "mist," "fist." And what is it all about? Holding sssssnakes in your fissssts. Sonic repetition within rhymes: The EYES of the EYE-dol with the EYE-ron head are glowing. It's the tight craftsmanship that elevates this line, making it stick to the listener and making it thrum with energy. How might a poet of this book have rendered this verse? Not as powerfully as it's rendered here, I dare say. Probably with a surfeit of distracting details and relative clauses, and no concern for cadence, alliteration, structural repetition, or any of the well-worn shop tools of poets past that made their work a pleasure to speak and hear.

  12. 4 out of 5

    emma

    hit or miss, read for class. i never love this series, and having heard the dramas revolving around who gets picked, i never have much faith that it's worth the hype as "the best" american poetry of the year.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Judi Easley

    My Disclaimer: I was provided a free copy of this book by the authors representative, NetGalley. I am voluntarily providing an honest review in which all opinions are fully my own. I am not being compensated in any way. ~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review My Review: ✭✭✭✭⭑ This is a powerful and moving collection of poems that speak of the condition of life in our country and in our homes and families. Some were sad. Some were painful. Some were elegant and wonderful. And some were just so much My Disclaimer: I was provided a free copy of this book by the author’s representative, NetGalley. I am voluntarily providing an honest review in which all opinions are fully my own. I am not being compensated in any way. ~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review My Review: ✭✭✭✭⭑ This is a powerful and moving collection of poems that speak of the condition of life in our country and in our homes and families. Some were sad. Some were painful. Some were elegant and wonderful. And some were just so much gibberish. Remember this is my opinion. Poetry is a personal experience and needs to speak to the reader. There are 75 poems in this collection. I chose 24% of the collection, that’s 18 poems that really spoke to me personally and had particular meaning to me for one reason or another. I read the bios and comments on those poets and really enjoyed them. They made the poems even more meaningful to me and connected me to the poets more personally. I’m very glad this section was done the way it was with the comments from the poets on their state of mind when they wrote these particular poems. I haven’t read any of the previous collections in this series, so I don’t know if this is the standard format, but I really liked this inclusion. I fully intend to seek out previous years’ collections and read some of them. The quality of the poetry is impressive. It also struck a chord within me to continue my own pursuit of poetry, as I too enjoy writing in the free-form style. I entered the giveaway, but if I don’t win, I fully intend to buy a print copy of this book to keep on my shelf and enjoy. I can’t recommend this highly enough to those of you who enjoy poetry. And to those of you who aren’t that familiar with it, give this book a try. You may find that this will appeal to you and speak to you as it is really about our lives today as we live it and see it played out on the nightly news and in the papers. Kudos, to Natasha Trethewey for her efforts. WIN A COPY OF THIS BOOK Best American Poetry 2017 by David Lehman Best American Poetry 2017 by David Lehman, Natasha Trethewey Release date: Sep 05, 2017 Enter to win a copy of Best American Poetry 2017, this year’s addition to the brilliant series of the most notable poems of the year, edited by Pulitz…more Format: Print book Availability:10 copies available, 268 people requesting Giveaway dates: Aug 09 – Sep 06, 2017 Countries available: US

  14. 4 out of 5

    Karen Lewis

    The BEST AMERICAN POETRY series collects a wide range of contemporary poems. An essential book for classrooms, libraries, and individual readers who want a middle-of-the-night or difficult-day companion to encourage them through rough spots and to inspire them to engage with language and possibility. I love it as a desk reference and use examples when organizing lesson plans for poetry writing workshops. The 2017 collection is curated by former US Poet Laureate Natasha Tretheway, whose foreword The BEST AMERICAN POETRY series collects a wide range of contemporary poems. An essential book for classrooms, libraries, and individual readers who want a middle-of-the-night or difficult-day companion to encourage them through rough spots and to inspire them to engage with language and possibility. I love it as a desk reference and use examples when organizing lesson plans for poetry writing workshops. The 2017 collection is curated by former US Poet Laureate Natasha Tretheway, whose foreword sets the tone: “Both my parents knew that I would need an ‘education by poetry’ to be safe in the world I’d entered. In 1966, when I was born, their interracial marriage was illegal in Mississippi and as many as twenty other states in the nation, rendering me illegitimate in the eyes of the law, persona non grata.” Illuminated here are crosscurrents of American poetic soul, vibrating with poems that reckon with the difficult political moment of the current presidency. These poems sing to an America torn with racial conflict, alive with immigration questions, grappling with international wars, climate change, and so many other stresses. Poetry (metaphor, image, sound) is uniquely attuned to illuminate complicated truths and confusing moments of being human. Here, readers will discover individual human experience (of more than 70 poets), a shared landscape, the shared moment of being alive in 2017 and claiming language and form to shape diverse and heart-opening literature. Tretheway affirms: “We need the truth of poetry, and its beauty, now more than ever.” This review is based on an ARC from NetGalley.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Tristan

    Another installment of Best American Poetry, another launch into the big wide world American poetry. (If you can't tell, the semester just ended and I suddenly have had time to read again and it's been absolutely wonderful). In all, it represents a pretty typical offering for the series. I liked many of the poems, loved some, had whole strings I was singularly unimpressed by. This year did have relatively few pieces that I actively hated, which was nice for an issue of Best American Poetry. This Another installment of Best American Poetry, another launch into the big wide world American poetry. (If you can't tell, the semester just ended and I suddenly have had time to read again and it's been absolutely wonderful). In all, it represents a pretty typical offering for the series. I liked many of the poems, loved some, had whole strings I was singularly unimpressed by. This year did have relatively few pieces that I actively hated, which was nice for an issue of Best American Poetry. This one was also a fun one as some regulars for the series presented poems that I enjoyed less than usual--Billy Collins, Yusef Komunyakaa, Sharon Olds, Charles Simic--which makes for an exciting experience as the new poets have to hold up a greater portion of the anthology. My favorite pieces this year were probably "On a Shaker Admonition" by David Barber, "The Dead" by Nicole Brown, "Elegy with a Gold Cradle" by Cyrus Cassells, "The Boatman" by Carolyn Forché, "Upon Reading that Eric Dolphy Transcribed Even the Calls of Certain Species of Birds" by John Murillo, "Maricón" by R.T. Smith, "Sheherezade." by Lucy Wainger, and "Double Helix" by Crystal Williams. There were other poems that I liked, but those were the most beautiful and emotionally impactful for me. All in all a solid but not stand-out installment of this series of anthologies, but that still leaves it with a strong assortment of poems.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Stephani

    Interested in learning what the gatekeepers of the higher levels of poetry fame and acclaim consider great poetry, I entered a Goodreads giveaway for this book. I couldn't believe I won a copy, so I dug in pretty soon after I received the book. In the end, I liked a lot more poems in the collection than I thought I would, and I've learned a lot about poetry that I think will benefit me as a poet as well. Many poems that I didn't particularly like or love taught me something useful about form, Interested in learning what the gatekeepers of the higher levels of poetry fame and acclaim consider great poetry, I entered a Goodreads giveaway for this book. I couldn't believe I won a copy, so I dug in pretty soon after I received the book. In the end, I liked a lot more poems in the collection than I thought I would, and I've learned a lot about poetry that I think will benefit me as a poet as well. Many poems that I didn't particularly like or love taught me something useful about form, style and content that I appreciate and will use as I write and (hopefully) get more poetry published. I especially would like to play more with form on the page, though I'm often scared that journals might not be able or willing to reproduce the results. For example, "Double Helix" by Crystal Williams has a stanza that mixes words in black print with ones in gray; I could just see some poetry editor rolling hir eyes if some non-famous poet like me submitted something with words in different colors. Overall, this is a worthwhile collection to read and learn from as poetry reader and writer. It's the first "Best American Poetry" book I've read; I may seek out older editions by indigenous/people of color and queer editors such as Yusef Komunyakaa and Mark Doty in the future.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Tennis

    Its a little disheartening to see that Trethewey seemingly only picked the best known poets as Ive read some really great poets this year and none of them appear here. If you read poetry, especially the modern stuff, you know the names John Ashberry, Nickole Brown, Leonard Cohen, Carl Dennis, Carolyn Forché, Terrance Hayes, Tony Hoagland, Yusef Komunyakaa, Jamaal May, Joyce Carol Oates, Sharon Olds, Carl Phillips, Danez Smith, and Kevin Young. Most of the poets listed in this collection have It’s a little disheartening to see that Trethewey seemingly only picked the best known poets as I’ve read some really great poets this year and none of them appear here. If you read poetry, especially the modern stuff, you know the names John Ashberry, Nickole Brown, Leonard Cohen, Carl Dennis, Carolyn Forché, Terrance Hayes, Tony Hoagland, Yusef Komunyakaa, Jamaal May, Joyce Carol Oates, Sharon Olds, Carl Phillips, Danez Smith, and Kevin Young. Most of the poets listed in this collection have extensive pedigrees of collections published / edited. It really seems Trethewey just listed all her friends rather than taking a broader look across America for the best of. That said, there were a few poems / poets that made this reading worthwhile and reflect far more positively on their work than Trethewey’s ability to guest edit and are as follows: Bullet Points by Jericho Brown; Higher Education by Jeffrey Harrison; Cause of Death: Fox News by Tony Hoagland; Certain Things by David Brendan Hopes; White by Judson Mitcham; Letter Beginning with Two Lines by Czeslaw Milosz by Matthew Olzmann; I Went for a Walk in Winter by Sherod Santos; Good Bones by Maggie Smith; Afraid to Pray by Pamela Sutton; Deconstruction by Wendy Videlock.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ryan

    The Best American Poetry 2017 isnt very even. There are all sorts of poems, from odes to dead butterflies to imagining a second life to contemplating suicide. There are imagination poems, tragedy poems, confused poems, and sad poems. Some are long, and others are short. One of my favorites was Homage to a Painter of Small Things, by Bruce Bond. It talks about how the painter must constantly start new paintings. This book is so full of good poems that I am going to focus on White, by Judson The Best American Poetry 2017 isn’t very even. There are all sorts of poems, from odes to dead butterflies to imagining a second life to contemplating suicide. There are imagination poems, tragedy poems, confused poems, and sad poems. Some are long, and others are short. One of my favorites was “Homage to a Painter of Small Things”, by Bruce Bond. It talks about how the painter must constantly start new paintings. This book is so full of good poems that I am going to focus on “White”, by Judson Mitcham. This poem tells of the injustices to those who have dark skin. The author uses imagery in the fourth verse to liken his situation to Martin Luther King, Jr, and shows quite plainly the differences between them. In the second verse he refers to the song “Pick a Bale of Cotton”, allowing the reader to compare slavery to the hardships faced in life. This helps enhance the symbolism and imagery of the poem. I quite enjoyed this book. It is full of the best poetry written in 2017. Some of the poems don’t make sense, like “Grackle”, or are just mean to someone, like “To Marlon Brando in Hell”. I didn’t enjoy these poems quite as much as the others in this book, but they are still fun poems to read. Others, while sad, are just masterpieces, such as “Something”.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    This was a good bounce-back collection for me after not enjoying the last book of poetry I finished (Carol Ann Duffy's Standing Female Nude) because I felt like I couldn't relate to any of the poems. These collections are great for those who like their poetry to be in step with the news cycle of the last 10 years. Racism, police brutality, climate change, refugees, gun violence all appear here, but there are also many poems dealing with the general themes of loss and grief. While it's nice to This was a good bounce-back collection for me after not enjoying the last book of poetry I finished (Carol Ann Duffy's Standing Female Nude) because I felt like I couldn't relate to any of the poems. These collections are great for those who like their poetry to be in step with the news cycle of the last 10 years. Racism, police brutality, climate change, refugees, gun violence all appear here, but there are also many poems dealing with the general themes of loss and grief. While it's nice to have the poets explain their motivations behind their work, it seems a bit much to have nearly 50 pages of contributors' notes - surely space better used for more poems. Nevertheless, I enjoyed this first foray into this series and all of my favorites were from poets I'd not read before. I will be seeking out more volumes in the future. Favorites: Dan Albergotti's "Weapons Discharge Report;" Mary Jo Bang's "Admission;" David Barber's "On a Shaker Admonition;" John Brehm's "Intrigue in the Trees;" Jericho Brown's "Bullet Points;" Aracelis Girmay's "from The Black Maria;" Danusha Lameris's "The Watch;" and Maggie Smith's "Good Bones."

  20. 5 out of 5

    Maureen

    This is an excellent collection of recently published poetry. The editor, Natasha Trethewey, was appointed the United States Poet Laureate in both 2012 and 2014 and I think she's chosen a great collection of poems. These poems are relevant to the issues of today. Some were not as good as others, but as a whole, the collection was strong. I discovered some new poets in this collection that I hadn't read before and there are other poets included that have published a lot such as Billy Collins, This is an excellent collection of recently published poetry. The editor, Natasha Trethewey, was appointed the United States Poet Laureate in both 2012 and 2014 and I think she's chosen a great collection of poems. These poems are relevant to the issues of today. Some were not as good as others, but as a whole, the collection was strong. I discovered some new poets in this collection that I hadn't read before and there are other poets included that have published a lot such as Billy Collins, Carolyn Forche, Jericho Brown, Amy Gerstler, Mary Jo Bang and Robert Pinsky. Some new voices from poets such as Wendy Videlock. An essential collection. I received this book as part of the Goodreads Giveaway.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    Its very interesting who and what is and isnt included in these volumes. You start to see the same names over and over again, and in some cases its obvious to see why, and in others less so. I enjoyed many of these, though, and was glad to be exposed to certain poets for the first time (or what felt like the first time). I have my own favorites who appeared, so Im certainly no better or worse than anyone else in terms of the choices I wouldve made, but I cant help feeling as though the series It’s very interesting who and what is and isn’t included in these volumes. You start to see the same names over and over again, and in some cases it’s obvious to see why, and in others less so. I enjoyed many of these, though, and was glad to be exposed to certain poets for the first time (or what felt like the first time). I have my own favorites who appeared, so I’m certainly no better or worse than anyone else in terms of the choices I would’ve made, but I can’t help feeling as though the series does not exactly provide the “best” that America has to offer in a given year. What does that word even mean, though? I’m talking myself in circles. It’s a good volume, better than most in the series, and worth reading, despite the limitations of the premise.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Michelle Kidwell

    Best American Poetry 2017 by David Lehman; Natasha Trethewey Scribner Poetry Pub Date 05 Sep 2017 I am reviewing a copy of Best American Poetry 2017 through Scribner and Netgalley: This collection is edited by David Lehman with guest editor Natasha Tretheway who served two terms as the nineteenth Poet Laureatte 2012-2014 for the United States and 2012-2016 for the Poet Laureatte for Missississippi. The poems in this collection deal with everything from war to racial relations. It deals with art as Best American Poetry 2017 by David Lehman; Natasha Trethewey Scribner Poetry Pub Date 05 Sep 2017 I am reviewing a copy of Best American Poetry 2017 through Scribner and Netgalley: This collection is edited by David Lehman with guest editor Natasha Tretheway who served two terms as the nineteenth Poet Laureatte 2012-2014 for the United States and 2012-2016 for the Poet Laureatte for Missississippi. The poems in this collection deal with everything from war to racial relations. It deals with art as well as the art of poetry. The poems deal with everything from nature to life. Some of the poems deal with forgiveness, from sickness to healing. I give Best American Poetry four out of five stRs! Happy Reading!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    This is the year of all the Michael Brown poems, it seems, and many of those collected here are really powerful. The standout poem for me, though, was Paisley Rekdal's poem about visiting the doctor. I liked a lot of the poems here-- found them forceful in their language and close to social concerns but not in a way that made them less lovely. But boy did most of them seem to come from the same four or five magazines-- I think at one point, there were four poems in a row from Kenyon Review. Also, This is the year of all the Michael Brown poems, it seems, and many of those collected here are really powerful. The standout poem for me, though, was Paisley Rekdal's poem about visiting the doctor. I liked a lot of the poems here-- found them forceful in their language and close to social concerns but not in a way that made them less lovely. But boy did most of them seem to come from the same four or five magazines-- I think at one point, there were four poems in a row from Kenyon Review. Also, just to be reminded, but the BAP series arranges poems alphabetically by author, which is just weird.

  24. 4 out of 5

    tiffany

    Loved many poems in here and was confused by a few. My favorites are Jericho Brown's "Bullet Points," Billy Collins' "The Present," Carl Dennis' "Two Lives," Jeffrey Harrison's "Higher Education," John James' "History," Fady Joudah's "Progress Notes," Danusha Laméris' "The Watch," Jamaal May's "Things That Break," Joyce Carol Oates' "To Marlon Brando in Hell," Matthew Olzmann's "Letter Beginning with Two Lines by Czeslaw Milosz," Sherod Santos' "I Went for a Walk in Winter," Maggie Smith's "Good Loved many poems in here and was confused by a few. My favorites are Jericho Brown's "Bullet Points," Billy Collins' "The Present," Carl Dennis' "Two Lives," Jeffrey Harrison's "Higher Education," John James' "History," Fady Joudah's "Progress Notes," Danusha Laméris' "The Watch," Jamaal May's "Things That Break," Joyce Carol Oates' "To Marlon Brando in Hell," Matthew Olzmann's "Letter Beginning with Two Lines by Czeslaw Milosz," Sherod Santos' "I Went for a Walk in Winter," Maggie Smith's "Good Bones," Pamela Sutton's "Afraid to Pray," Wendy Videlock's "Deconstruction."

  25. 4 out of 5

    Dave

    This is wide survey of what got published last year. Some of it is good - Good Bones, The Mercy Home, Bullet Points, Progress Notes, The Age of Anxiety, Some not - Cause of Death Faux News [COULD THE TITLE BE ANYMORE CLICHE], I forgive you, Weapons Discharge Report, Hamlet Text Guilderstient (if you are going to riff the Bard it better be good) What I didn't like was politically motivated poetry. That doesn't work and I'm not sure just because it is in verse that it qualifies as poetry.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Ann Sosnowski

    I haven't read poetry in a while so I was curious as to what was out there. This did not disappoint. A great mix of free verse, experimental poetry and metered rhyme. Modern topics range from love and loss, to politics, to moral and ethical questions, the past, the future, race relations, gender and more, as modern poetry should. I really enjoyed the poet explanations at the end with their bios explaining how their poems started, what they became and everything in between.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Tom Scott

    This is my second year reading this series, all part of my ongoing quest to read poetry, a genre I had never embraced. Like last year I really enjoy his collection. It's organized alphabetically by the author so themes often shift dramatically from poem to poem. Sometimes I still get impatient and read too quickly, which is my loss. When I slow down and take however long I need with each poem I've usually been rewarded.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Twila Newey

    I love Tretheway and some of the poems in this anthology knocked me sideways. However, it is not a collection where I was marking lines or poems with great frequency. So, I liked it, but did not love it. Poetry is such a subjective endeavor, both the reading and writing of poems it's difficult for me to pinpoint exactly what I'm looking for or why some poems speak and others do not for me. But reading a wide variety of poems never feels like wasted time.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ginny

    I really enjoyed this edition, probably more than some of the others in this series. among the collection, some of my favorites are Amy Gerstler, Dead Butterfly Jeffrey Harrison, Higher Education W.J Herbert, Mounting the Dove Box David Brendon Hopes, Certain Things Danusha Lameris, The Watch Dorianne Laux, Lapse Matthew Olzmann, Letter Beginning with Two Lines by Czeslaw Milosz Gregory Orr, Three Dark Proverb Sonnets Michael Ryan, The Mercy Home Maggie Smith, Good Bones

  30. 4 out of 5

    Joshua Allman

    I'm so new to reading poetry. I wanted something with depth and breadth, something contemporary, and something American (just so I could hopefully understand most of the references, since I'm American myself). This collection is perfect. I got goosebumps reading some of the poems here. They have been thoughtfully curated and I enjoyed reading about the author and their comments on their own work. I'm gonna save many of these so I can come back to them. Highly recommended.

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