The Best American Poetry 2014

BOOK: The Best American Poetry 2014
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Foreword by David Lehman

Introduction by Terrance Hayes

Sherman Alexie
, “Sonnet, with Pride”

Rae Armantrout
, “Control”

John Ashbery
, “Breezeway”

Erin Belieu
, “With Birds”

Linda Bierds
, “On Reflection”

Traci Brimhall
, “To Survive the Revolution”

Lucie Brock-Broido
, “Bird, Singing”

Jericho Brown
, “Host”

Kurt Brown
, “Pan del Muerto”

, “wondering about our demise while driving to Disneyland with abandon”

Anne Carson
, “A Fragment of Ibykos Translated 6 Ways”

Joseph Ceravolo
, “Hidden Bird”

Henri Cole
, “City Horse”

Michael Earl Craig
, “The Helmet”

Philip Dacey
, “Juilliard Cento Sonnet”

Olena Kalytiak Davis
, “It Is to Have or Nothing”

Kwame Dawes
, “News from Harlem”

Joel Dias-Porter
, “Elegy Indigo”

Natalie Diaz
, “These Hands, if Not Gods”

Mark Doty
, “Deep Lane”

Sean Thomas Dougherty
, “The Blues Is a Verb”

Rita Dove
, “The Spring Cricket Repudiates His Parable of Negritude”

Camille Dungy
, “Conspiracy (to breathe together)”

Cornelius Eady
, “Overturned”

Vievee Francis
, “Fallen”

Ross Gay
, “To the Fig Tree on 9th and Christian”

Eugene Gloria
, “Liner Notes for Monk”

Ray Gonzalez
, “One El Paso, Two El Paso”

Kathleen Graber
, “The River Twice”

Rosemary Griggs

Adam Hammer
, “As Like”

Bob Hicok
, “Blue prints”

Le Hinton
, “No Doubt About It (I Gotta Get Another Hat)”

Tony Hoagland
, “Write Whiter”

Major Jackson
, “OK Cupid”

Amaud Jamaul Johnson
, “L.A. Police Chief Daryl Gates Dead at 83”

Douglas Kearney
, “The Labor of Stagger Lee: Boar”

Yusef Komunyakaa
, “Negritude”

Hailey Leithauser
, “In My Last Past Life”

Larry Levis
, “Elegy with a Darkening Trapeze inside It”

Gary Copeland Lilley
, “Sermon of the Dreadnaught”

Frannie Lindsay
, “Elegy for My Mother”

Patricia Lockwood
, “Rape Joke”

Nathaniel Mackey
, “Oldtime Ending”

Cate Marvin
, “An Etiquette for Eyes”

Jamaal May
, “Masticated Light”

Shara McCallum
, “Parasol”

Marty McConnell
, “vivisection (you're going to break my heart)”

Valzhyna Mort
, “Sylt I”

Harryette Mullen
, “Selection from Tanka Diary”

Eileen Myles
, “Paint Me a Penis”

D. Nurkse
, “Release from Stella Maris”

Sharon Olds
, “Stanley Kunitz Ode”

Gregory Pardlo
, “Wishing Well”

Kiki Petrosino
, “Story Problem”

D. A. Powell
, “See You Later.”

Roger Reeves
, “The Field Museum”

Donald Revell
, “To Shakespeare”

Patrick Rosal
, “You Cannot Go to the God You Love with Your Two Legs”

Mary Ruefle
, “Saga”

Jon Sands
, “Decoded”

Steve Scafidi
, “Thank You Lord for the Dark Ablaze”

Frederick Seidel
, “To Philip Roth, for His Eightieth”

Diane Seuss
, “Free Beer”

Sandra Simonds
, “I Grade Online Humanities Tests”

Jane Springer
, “Forties War Widows, Stolen Grain”

Corey Van Landingham
, “During the Autopsy”

Afaa Michael Weaver
, “Passing Through Indian Territory”

Eleanor Wilner
, “Sowing”

David Wojahn
, “My Father's Soul Departing”

Greg Wrenn
, “Detainment”

Robert Wrigley
, “Blessed Are”

Jake Adam York
, “Calendar Days”

Dean Young
, “Emerald Spider Between Rose Thorns”

Rachel Zucker
, “Mindful”

Contributors' Notes and Comments

Magazines Where the Poems Were First Published


About Terrance Hayes and David Lehman

David Lehman was born in New York City. Educated at Stuyvesant High School and Columbia University, he spent two years as a Kellett Fellow at Clare College, Cambridge, and worked as Lionel Trilling's research assistant upon his return from England. He is the author of nine books of poetry, including
New and Selected Poems
Yeshiva Boys
When a Woman Loves a Man
The Daily Mirror
(2000), and
Valentine Place
(1996), all from Scribner. He is the editor of
The Oxford Book of American Poetry
(Oxford, 2006) and
Great American Prose Poems: From Poe to the Present
(Scribner, 2003), among other collections.
A Fine Romance: Jewish Songwriters, American Songs
(Nextbook/Schocken), the most recent of his six nonfiction books, won the Deems Taylor Award from the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) in 2010. Among Lehman's other books are a study in detective novels (
The Perfect Murder
), a group portrait of the New York School of poets (
The Last Avant-Garde
), and an account of the scandal sparked by the revelation that a Yale University eminence had written for a Nazi-controlled newspaper in his native Belgium (
Signs of the Times: Deconstruction and the Fall of Paul de Man
). He teaches in the graduate writing program of The New School and lives in New York City and in Ithaca, New York.

by David Lehman

Maybe I dreamed it. Don Draper sat sipping Canadian Club from a coffee mug on Craig Ferguson's late-night talk show. “Are you on Twitter?” the host asks. “No,” Draper says. “I don't”—and here he pauses before pronouncing the distasteful verb—“tweet.” Next question. “Do you read a lot of poetry?” The ad agency's creative director looks skeptical. Though the hero of
Mad Men
is seen reading Dante's
in one season of Matthew Weiner's show and heard reciting Frank O'Hara in another, the question seems to come from left field. “Poetry isn't really celebrated any more in our culture,” Don says, to which the other retorts, “It can be—if you can write in units of 140 keystrokes.” Commercial break.

The laugh line reveals a shrewd insight into the subject of “poetry in the digital age,” a panel-discussion perennial. The panelists agree that text messaging and Internet blogs will be seen to have exercised some sort of influence on the practice of poetry, whether on the method of composition or on the style and surface of the writing. And surely we may expect the same of a wildly popular social medium with a formal requirement as stringent as the 140-character limit. (To someone with a streak of mathematical mysticism, the relation of that number to the number of lines in a sonnet is a thing of beauty.) What Twitter offers is ultimate immediacy expressed with ultimate concision. “Whatever else Twitter is, it's a literary form,” says the novelist Kathryn Schulz, who explains how easy it was for her to get addicted to “a genre in which you try to say an informative thing in an interesting way while abiding by its constraint (those famous 140 characters). For people who love that kind of challenge—and it's easy to see why writers might be overrepresented among them—Twitter has the same allure as gaming.” True, the hard-to-shake habit caused its share of problems. Schulz reports a huge “distractibility increase” and other disturbing symptoms: “I have
felt my
get divided into tweet-size chunks.” Nevertheless there is a reason that she got hooked on this “wide-ranging, intellectually stimulating, big-hearted, super fun” activity.
When, in an early episode of the Netflix production of
House of Cards
, one Washington journalist disparages a rival as a “Twitter twat,” you know the word has arrived, and the language itself has changed to accommodate it. There are new terms (“hashtag”), acronyms (“ikr” in Detroit means “I know right?”), shorthand (“suttin” is “something” in Boston).
Television producers love it (“Keep those tweets coming!”). So does Wall Street: when Twitter went public in 2013, the IPO came off without a hitch, and the stock climbed with the velocity of an over-caffeinated momentum investor eager to turn a quick profit.

The desire to make a friend of the new technology is understandable, though it obliges us to overlook some major flaws: the Internet is hell on lining, spacing, italics; line breaks and indentation are often obscured in electronic transmission. The integrity of the poetic line can be a serious casualty. Still, it is fruitless to quarrel with the actuality of change, and difficult to resist it profitably—except, perhaps, in private, where we may revel in our physical books and even, if we like, write with pen or pencil on graph paper or type our thoughts with the Smith-Corona manual to which we have a sentimental attachment. One room in the fine “Drawn to Language” exhibit at the University of Southern California's Fisher Art Museum in September 2013 was devoted to Susan Silton's site-specific installation of a circle of tables on which sat ten manual typewriters of different makes, models, sizes, and decades. It was moving to behold the machines not only as objects of nostalgia in an attractive arrangement but as metonymies of the experience of writing in the twentieth century—and as invitations to sit down and hunt and peck away to your heart's content. Seeing the typewriters in that room I felt as I do when the talk touches on the acquisition of an author's papers by
a university library. It's odd to be a member of the last generation to have “papers” in this archival and material sense. Odd for an era to slip into a museum while you watch.

BOOK: The Best American Poetry 2014
10.11Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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