The Best American Erotic Poems: From 1800 to the Present

David Lehman, Editor . Scribner $30 (336p) ISBN 978-1-4165-3745-8 ISBN 978-1-4165-3745-8

Lehman's cheerfully eclectic, determinedly accessible and defiantly sex-positive collection—a savvy extension of his successful Best American Poetry franchise—marches from an unlikely beginning (“On a Young Lady's Going into a Shower Bath” by Francis Scott Key), past Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson, through the modernist era (Conrad Aiken's truly sexy “Sea Holly”) and on to the present, where poets male and female, gay, straight and bisexual, describe bodies and pleasures in an array of verse forms. Sestinas abound; Lehman also finds a villanelle, a pantoum, a brace of sonnets and, not surprisingly, lots of swinging free verse. Lehman's best choices give off both heat and light: Dennis Cooper remembers the aches of eighth grade; Maggie Wells's “Sonnet from the Groin” approaches her own sex organs with bounce and honesty; and Bernadette Mayer's echoic couplets in “First turn to me...” evoke the lucky days at the start of a great romance, when sexual wishes are commands. (Feb.)

Reviewed on: 11/19/2007
Release date: 02/01/2008
Genre: Fiction
Ebook - 352 pages - 978-1-4165-6440-9
Paperback - 300 pages - 978-1-4165-3746-5
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