Sunday, February 08, 2009

The Best Poems of 2008

As I read I keep ready a stack of placemarks. When I read something I want to reread, I poke in a placemark. Used to be I only did this with poems. Nearly 20 years ago I started a personal anthology to answer for myself who might be my favorite poets. When asked, I couldn’t drop names with confidence because there were poems by poet X that I liked, but there were also poems by poet X that did nothing for me, or that I disliked. Could poet X be a favorite? I decided what I needed was a pool of poems that worked for me, a collection only of those poems I looked forward to returning to again & again. When a poem proves itself over a few readings – proves itself a poem I want to continue to live with – I copy it out by hand. Some years I copy out a lot of poems. This year? No.

I read 48 books & magazines in 2008 which contained poems, from these I copied a total of 18 poems* by 16 poets.

Juliette Chen … “Tao Po Mei”
Jean Yoon … “The De-Militarized Zone”
Jean Yoon … “Direct Translation”
Alicia Ostriker … “Anxiety About Dying”
Sue Owens … “Lullaby”
Gregory Corso … “Last Night I Drove a Car”
Gregory Corso … “Don’t Shoot the Warthog”
Valerie Worth … “Cat Bath”
Dean Young … “Bright Head”
Dean Young … “Noncompliant”
Marc Elihu Hofstadter … “Paris”
Joanne Kyger … “October 28, Take It Easier”
John Giorno … “Tear Gas”
Alan Bern … a senryu from “Secondi Passi”
Emily Dickinson … 1563 “by homely gift”
Darlyn Avina … “Deep Eyes”
Jerry D. Miley … “Memories”
Geof Huth & mIEKAL aND … 19 pwoerms from Texistence

The habit of placemarks has come in handy with Dare I Read, too. I have a batch of books leaning against each other near the computer, each with a marker indicating something I want to bring up. All the books currently standing by bring up difficult issues. So some of them have been waiting awhile. I wanted to talk about gay visibility, for instance – you can be out & proud but if people don’t see you as gay, you can’t influence their idea of what a gay person is; or depictions of gay people in a couple novels from the 1930s – not good, but not wholly bad? Have we come a long way or not?

Best Poems of 2007

Best Poems of 2006

Best Poems of 2005

Best Poems of 2004


* lumping all the pwoermds together

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