cover image The Best American Poetry, 1989

The Best American Poetry, 1989

Donald Hall. Collier Books, $9.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-02-044182-3

Flouting conventional wisdom, 1989 NBCC winner Hall boldly asserts, ``More people read poetry now in the United States than ever did before.'' For this growing audience, Hall selects poetry well worth reading--provocative, finely crafted, emotionally resonant. Deliberately embracing eclecticism, Hall and poet/critic Lehman, series editor, cull 75 poems by such established writers as John Ashbery, Kenneth Koch, James Merrill, Philip Levine and Richard Wilbur and from lesser-knowns and veritable unknowns. The result is an exhilarating compendium of talent with staggering diversity--dramatic monologues and vignettes, syllabics, blank verse, rhymed couplets and quatrains, free verse, surrealism, high romanticism, discursive irony, shameless erotica. But the piece de resistance here may be such ingenious narratives as David Dooley's witty monologue of a psychic in ``The Reading'' and Yvonne Sapia's retelling of her father's barbering in ``Valentino's Hair.'' Despite attempts at regional inclusiveness, however, the anthology is miserly with poets from rural areas, the Midwest and the South. (Oct.)