Best New Poets 2013

Edited by Jazzy Danziger and Brenda Shaughnessy. Univ. of Virginia, $11.95 trade paper (132p) ISBN 978-0-9766296-8-9
In its ninth installment, this anthology, guest-edited this year by Brenda Shaughnessy (Our Andromeda; Danziger is the series editor), brings together 50 poems by writers who have yet to publish a full-length collection. The work, much of it nominated by university writing programs and literary journals, is diverse in voice and subject matter, providing an effective barometer of contemporary American poetry. In Cori A. Winrock's "Débridement," pregnancy is imagined as moving back in time: "I dig a tunnel to my grandmother straight through/ my mother," which leads to the devastating lines: "When I arrive at my childhood I undress/ the house like a wound." Elsewhere, the music of Lo Kwa Mei-en's "Romance in Which Open Season Changes Everything" disturbingly conflates sexual and hunting imagery: "From ugly to ugly and armed. The hunt. One hot vex/…/ Love like how a wasteland/ welcomes back. Like to eat alive and start with the hand/ you asked for." The poems seem to owe as much to 20th-century traditions as to the spirit of invention, and, as such, are a reminder that contemporary poetry is not only alive and well but continuing to evolve. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 12/23/2013
Release date: 01/01/2014
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