Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Best Poems of 1991

Samuel Allen ….. To Satch
John Ashbery ….. Down by the Station, Early in the Morning
John Ashbery ….. Haibun 4
John Ashbery ….. Rain Moving In
John Ashbery ….. When the Sun Went Down
Lisa Bernstein ….. After He Left Her
Richard Brautigan ….. Albion Breakfast
Richard Brautigan ….. I Live in the Twentieth Century
Richard Brautigan ….. Insane Asylum, Part 8 (from the Galilee Hitch-hiker)
Richard Brautigan ….. Information (from Crows and Mercury)
Richard Brautigan ….. We Meet. We Try. Nothing Happens, But (from Crows and Mercury)
Richard Brautigan ….. Ben (from Crows and Mercury)
Richard Brautigan ….. Molly, Part 13 (from Group Portrait Without the Lions)
Richard Brautigan ….. “Ah, Great Expectations!”, Part 14 (from Group Portrait Without the Lions)
Richard Brautigan ….. What Happened? (from Love)
Richard Brautigan ….. Nine Crows: Two Out of Sequence (from Montana/1973)
Richard Brautigan ….. Early Spring Mud Puddle at an Off Angle (from Montana/1973)
Richard Brautigan ….. Nobody Knows What the Experience Is Worth
Richard Brautigan ….. March 18, Resting in the Maytag Homage (from Section Three)
Richard Brautigan ….. A Moth in Tucson, Arizona (from Section Three)
Isabella M. Brown ….. Prayer
Charles Bukowski ….. Big Bastard with a Sword
Charles Bukowski ….. Experience
Charles Bukowski ….. Face While Shaving
Charles Bukowski ….. Farewell, Foolish Objects
Charles Bukowski ….. The New Place
Charles Bukowski ….. A Report Upon the Consumption of Myself
Raymond Carver ….. For the Record
Raymond Carver ….. Interview
Nurunnessa Choudhurry ….. The Sun Witness
Stephen Crane ….. “In the desert”
Stephen Crane ….. “Love walked alone.”
Stephen Crane ….. “If I should cast off this tattered coat,”
John Daniel ….. Smith L.J.
Birago Diop ….. Breaths
Stephen Dobyns ….. Summer Evenings
Jack Driscoll & Bill Meissner ….. The Somnambulist’s Music
Russell Edson ….. The Prophylactic
an ancient Egyptian poem ….. The Bird Catcher
Paul Engle ….. Water color
Edward Field ….. At the Coney Island Aquarium …
Edward Field from the Eskimo ….. Grandma Takes a Foster Child
Edward Field ….. Notes from a Slave Ship
Edward Field ….. Triad
Edward Field ….. Tulips and Addresses
Edward Field ….. World War II
Carolyn Forche ….. For the Stranger
Fukuda Hiroyuki ….. Praying Mantis
song of Gabon Pygmy ….. Death Rites II
Jay Griswold ….. The Insomnia of the Heart
Linda M. Hasselstrom ….. After the Storm
Anthony Hecht ….. More Light! More Light!
Michael Hettich ….. Anniversary
Emily Hiestand ….. from On Nothing
George Hitchcock ….. Villa Thermidor
song of the Hottentot ….. Song for the Sun that Disappeared Behind the Rainclouds
Antonio Jacinto ….. Monangamba
Robinson Jeffers ….. Pearl Harbor
Bob Kaufman ….. Battle Report
Carolyn Kizer ….. To Li Po from Tu Fu
Ronald Koertge ….. He
Ronald Koertge ….. Tonto
Ronald Koertge ….. The Ubiquity of the Need for Love
Laurie Kuntz ….. Coming Out
Dorianne Laux ….. Ghosts
Denise Levertov ….. Laying the Dust
Ed “foots” Lipman ….. an edited version of Poem for Rupert Weber, 85 Years Too Late
Morton Marcus ….. Watching Your Gray Eyes
Howard McCord ….. My Cow
Jo McDougall ….. Her Story
Pero Meogo ….. Cossante
W. S. Merwin ….. Separation
Frank O’Hara ….. Benjamin Franklin, Or Isadora Duncan
Frank O’Hara ….. “The brittle moment comes”
Frank O’Hara ….. Corresponding Foreignly
Frank O’Hara ….. “Dusk. Dawn. The land. An albatross thinks of Spain.”
Bern Porter ….. The Snow Queen
Miklos Radnoti ….. Foaming Sky
Adrienne Rich ….. Living Memory
Anne Sexton ….. Courage
Anne Sexton ….. Two Hands
Anne Sexton ….. Wanting to Die
Susan Sklan ….. On Passing an Old Lover’s Address
Cathy Song ….. Stray Animals
song of the Susu ….. The Sweetest Thing
May Swenson ….. Dr. Henderson
May Swenson ….. Old No. 1
Tchicaya U Tam’si ….. The Scorner (an excerpt)
Carol Tarlen ….. Prisoner No. 25
James Tate ….. Distance from Loved Ones
Sara Teasdale ….. Moon’s Ending
Lao Tsu ….. Seventy-Six
Allen Upward ….. The Milky Way (from Scented Leaves from a Chinese Jar)
Urakawa Yuriko ….. Father
Julia Vinograd ….. Street Saxophone
David Wagoner ….. The Labors of Thor
Derek Walcott ….. A Sea-Chantey (an excerpt)
C. K. Williams ….. Spit
Keith Wilson ….. The Lake Above Santos
Wang Xiao-ni ….. The Wind is Roaring

Each year I try to read the complete works of a poet or two. I read through each of Anne Sexton’s books in 1991. (More recently I reread Sexton via her Complete Poems.) I would prefer not to read a “selected.” I want the original slim volume(s) or a “complete.” But sometimes a “selected” is the completest collection available. These days there is greater access to obscure books either via the web or libraries borrowing from libraries so it’s been years since I read a “selected.”

I read a lot of anthologies. I began to get a sense of the influence of editors when I realized I was really enjoying some anthologies — and finding others of little interest. It wasn’t just the poets.

I encourage anyone interested in poetry to make their own anthology. If you love a poem you don’t have to let it go. Your choices will not be the same as the Harold Blooms or Louis Untermeyers, even if your anthology includes many of the same poets. I save poems that mean something to me, not poems that are Great by some other measure.


Lisa B (Lisa Bernstein) said...

Hi Glenn, I happened to find this post and am honored and delighted that you included my poem, "After He Left Her," in your list. (I take it this means poems you read in 1991; this poem appeared in my book "The Transparent Body" from Wesleyan Univ. Press in 1989 and was included in an anthology called "Men & Women: Together & Alone" the year before that.) Thanks so much for being a passionate reader along with being a writer! -- Lisa B (Lisa Bernstein)

Glenn Ingersoll said...

The "Best Poems of 1991" are poems I collected in 1991. I don't care when they were written or published.

I got out "After He Left Her" after you commented and loved it again. What a fairy tale of masturbation!

I just ordered up The Transparent Body via interlibrary loan (or rather, Link+, which my library uses). Looking forward to reading more Bernstein.

I loved the anthology, Men & Women: Together & Alone, which I found in the Sebastopol branch of the Sonoma County Library. M&W was an anthology I enjoyed reading all the way through, as I recall. Typically an anthology is a mixed bag, more dislikes than likes, but I persevere in order to find what I wouldn't find otherwise.

Lisa B (Lisa Bernstein) said...

Hi Glenn! Thanks for the lovely reply. I'm delighted by your comments on the poem. I'm going to blog about this, if you don't mind, and link to your blog. I'll alert you when I do.

(BTW, do you know my friend Nick Mastick of the Berkeley Library?)

I think you have an editor's sensibility. I noticed you blogged about this question recently and I say, go for it, why not query some publishers if you want to assemble an anthology yourself?

Thanks for wanting to read more Bernstein (Lisa, not Charles, in this case :-) ). I went on to become a singer integrating poetry and spoken word into my tunes in addition to writing more poems. Check out and scroll down the About page to the "originals and reimaginings" videos for a quick taste. I'd be happy to send you a free mp3 of something as a thankyou if you're interested.

Happy new year and keep on keeping on!