cover image The Best American Poetry 2011

The Best American Poetry 2011

Edited by Kevin Young and David Lehman. Scribner, $16 trade paper (240p) ISBN 978-1-4391-8149-2

This year’s volume of poetry’s most popular annual anthology contains the usual eclectic mix of famous and up-and-coming poets; Young, this year’s editor, is in fact among the series’ youngest, though he is himself as well known as any of the other editors have been. His picks are all over the aesthetic map; there’s no better way to show them than to quote lines, so here goes: poetry fans will recognize names like Robert Pinsky (who describes a horn, probably a sax, as “the golden trophy. The true addiction”) and Carolyn Forche (“The water shimmers with imaginary fish”) and will be delighted to meet relative newcomers such as Jaswinder Bolina (“I am grateful for the man now nuzzling with my ex-lover”) and Farrah Field (“No one here has visited a functional hospital”). Wonderful, too, are the aphorisms of James Richardson (“How proud we are of our multitasking. What is Life but something to get off our desks, cross off our lists?”) and the sonnets of Olena Kalytiak Davis (“fuck! I have two loves too, i really do”). There are also several-page poems by the likes of Robert Hass and Paul Muldoon, for those with concentration to spare. As ever, there is something for every poetry lover, as well as for readers who might not yet know they love poetry. (Sept.)