cover image The Best American Poetry

The Best American Poetry

Louise Glueck / Author, David Lehman / Editor Collier Books $1

Now in its sixth year, this poetry showcase includes work from some four dozen magazines. Like her predecessors, Gluck brings her unique perspective to her selections; many of these works share a sense of the divine. The speaker of Mark Jarman's haunting poem recalls going with his minister father to visit a family after their teenage daughter committed suicide. Former Yale Younger Poets winner Brigit Pegeen Kelly's highly successful experiment with multiple narrative lines juxtaposes a pregnant woman's thoughts while walking through an old graveyard with stories of boys defacing tombstones, recollections from a dream, tales of the region's settlers, and questions about God. Less philosophical but equally memorable is Ruth Stone's portrait of a young housewife in Chicago during WW II. Ending the selections on a particularly strong note, Dean Young's lyric about a young boy who shouts ``I hate you'' to his mother is one of those rare, intense poems that deserves several readings. As in previous years, author bios and useful comments on poems are gathered into an appendix. In her preface, Gluck expresses her uneasiness with calling anything ``best,'' and reminds readers that time is the true test of what survives. Many selections here possess that timeless quality. (Oct.)