THE BEST OF THE BEST AMERICAN POETRY: MARCH MADNESS IS HERE!

East

1.  When One Has Lived A Long Time Alone–Galway Kinnell (90)

2.  Lines Composed Over 3,000 Miles From Tintern Abbey–Billy Collins (98)

3.  Where He Found Himself–Stephen Dunn (07)

4.  Pleasure Bay—Robert Pinsky (89)

5.  Jihad—J.D. McClatchy (03)

6.  Histoire—Harry Matthews (88)

7.  Time—Louise Gluck (01)

8.  King of Repetition—Marc Jafee (04)

9.  The Ballad of the Comely Woman—T. Allan Broughton (02)

10.  Vectors: Forty Five Aphorisms & Ten Second Essays—James Richardson (01)

11.  Concerning the Land to the South of our Neighbors to the North—Mark Bibbins (09)

12.  Birthday—Christopher Edgar (00)

13.  Divide and Conquer—Alan Sullivan (08)

14.  Recognition—Eve Wood  (97)

15.  Counterman—Paul Violi  (06)

16.  On Difficulty—Jorie Graham  (88)

North

1.  The People Next Door—Louis Simpson  (89)

2.  Letter With No Address—Donald Hall  (98)

3.  The Problem of Anxiety—John Ashbery (97)

4.  A Shooting Script—Seamus Heaney (88)

5.  In California During The Gulf War—Denise Levertov (93)

6.  The Call—David Yezzi  (06)

7.  Bored—Margaret Atwood  (95)

8.  A Happy Thought—Franz Wright  (06)

9.  What Bee Did—Julie Larios (07)

10.  By Accident—Amit Majmudar  (07)

11.  The Opaque—Mark Halliday  (03)

12.  Favorite Iraqi Soldier—Stephen Dobyns (93)

13.  Triumph of Narcissus & Aphrodite—William Kulik  (99)

14.  In Charge—Nathan Whiting  (02)

15.  the mississippi river empties into the gulf—Lucille Clifton (99)

16. Heavy Handed Dance—Jayne Cortez  (97)

West

1.  The Wellspring—Sharon Olds  (89)

2.  Dummy, 51, To Go To Museum, Ventriloquist Dead, 75–May Swenson (88)

3.  Distance From Loved Ones—James Tate  (90)

4.  Ode to the Personals—David Kirby  (07)

5.  Flare—Mary Oliver (99)

6.  The Hall of Bones—Ted Kooser (03)

7.  A Good List—Brad Leithauser  (07)

8.  Sea of Faith—John Brehm (99)

9.  History—Carl Dennis  (97)

10.  Healing—George Bilgere  (92)

11.  What Every Soldier Should Know—Brian Turner  (07)

12.  Sunday, Tarzan In His Hammock—Lewis Buzbee  (95)

13.  April Fool’s Day, Mt. Pleasant Cemetery—A. F. Moritz  (93)

14.  The Business of Love Is Cruelty—Dean Young  (93)

15.  Found—Ron Koertge  (06)

16.  The Year—Janet Bowdan  (00)

South

1.  Invitation to a Ghost—Donald Justice  (93)

2.  A Time Zone—Kenneth Koch  (91)

3.  Facing It—Yusef Komunyakaa  (90)

4.  Country Western Singer—Alan Shapiro  (07)

5.  No Sorry—Catherine Bowman  (97)

6.  I Stopped Writing Poetry—Bernard Welt  (01)

7.  The Plan—Jack Turner  (97)

8.  What the Paymaster Said—Kevin Prufer  (03)

9.  The Shipfitter’s Wife—Dorianne Laux  (99)

10.  That’s Not Butter—Reb Livingston  (06)

11.  Gratification—Susan Wood  (06)

12.  Lifeline—Vijay Seshardi  (97)

13.  The Only Dance There Is—Rebecca Byrkit  (94)

14.  [Language Exists Because]—Lynn Xu  (08)

15.  The Poets March On Washington—James Cummins  (05)

16.  Apple—Susan Stewart  (01)

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4 Comments

  1. thomasbrady said,

    March 8, 2010 at 4:56 pm

    David Lehman’s annual Best American Poetry volumes, if this tournament is any reliable indication, are very hit-and-miss.

    12 of the annual volumes, more than half, produced only 16 poems for the 64 poem tourney.

    That’s not a very good track record, in general, for the BAP series.

    Perhaps one should not blame the judges, since their year may have been a poor year, but given the amount of poems published in a given year, it’s hard to believe that putting out a dubious annual volume would even be possible, but Rich 0, Hejinian 1, Simic 1, Strand 1, Muldoon 1, Ammons 1, Waggoner 1, Dove 2, Creeley 2, C. Wright 2, Hollander 2, and Howard 2, seemed to have pulled it off.

    The best judges in the series seem to be those who think it’s OK to be simply tickled by poems or moved by them in an old-fashioned sort of way, and have no agenda, no peculiar philosophy, no harebrained notions of what modernity should look like, no special desire for the fussy or the complex or the difficult. Enter Heather McHugh 7, James Tate 7, Billy Collins 6, Robert Bly 5, and Louise Gluck, 5.

    To be fair to all the judges, there really isn’t much of a difference between finding 2 or 5 poems out of 75 which some other judge has judged to be worthy of a tournament. The poems which did not make the tournament are not necessarily bad, and there were a large number of BAP poems from every volume for which the March Madness Selection Committee simply had no patience.

  2. thomasbrady said,

    March 8, 2010 at 9:47 pm

    Most likely upsets in the first round:

    EAST- 12th seed “Birthday,” a favorite of Ashbery’s, could beat 5th seed “Jihad.” A poem entitled “Jihad” winning a major American poetry contest? We doubt it.

    EAST- 10th seed “Vectors” over 7th seed “Time” by Gluck. This is one of Gluck’s best poems, and Richardson’s ‘poem’ consists of aphorisms. But the aphorisms are amazingly good; not cute like Bernstein’s aphorisms, for instance.

    NORTH- 14th seed “In Charge” could upset Ashbery’s 3rd seed. Just a hunch.

    NORTH- 13th seed “Triumph of Narcissus & Aphrodite” prevails against Heaney’s 4th seed?

    WEST- 15th seed “Found” by Koertge against Swenson’s 2nd seed. “Found” is near-perfect.

    WEST- 11th seed Turner’s “What Every Soldier Should Know” could make Kooser’s 5th seed blink.

    SOUTH- 11th seed “Lifeline” by Seshardi has the contemplative goods to trip up the breathless 5th seed’s “No Sorry” by Bowman.

    Galway Kinnell is the 5-1 favorite to go all the way, followed by Justice and Louis Simpson at 10-1, then Koch, Billy Collins, Donald Hall and Olds: 20-1. Komunyakaa, Dunn, Pinsky, and Swenson are 30-1. James Tate and Dorianne Laux are 40-1. Leithauser, Louise Gluck, Mary Oliver, and Heaney might be worth a gamble at 60-1.

  3. Alan Cordle said,

    March 9, 2010 at 12:20 am

    There are some poets I’ve never heard of before nor after their appearances in BAP. Are those the ones who are Lehman’s students and/or assistants?

  4. thomasbrady said,

    March 9, 2010 at 2:13 am

    Don’t tell me that’s the way things work, Al.

    My heart would be broken…

    We have the first tip-off…

    Jorie’s losing big to Kinnell…


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