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The State of the Art

A Chronicle of American Poetry, 1988-2014

This book can be downloaded and read in iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.


The acclaimed annual, The Best American Poetry, is the most prestigious showcase of new poetry in the United States and Canada. Each year since the series began in 1988, David Lehman has contributed a foreword, and this has evolved into a sort of state-of-the-art address that surveys new developments and explores various matters facing poets and their readers today. This book collects all twenty-nine forewords (including the two written for the retrospective “Best of the Best” volumes for the tenth and twenty-fifth anniversaries.)  Beginning with a new introduction by Lehman and a foreword by poet Denise Duhamel (guest editor for The Best American Poetry 2013), the collection conveys a sense of American poetry in the making, year by year, over the course of a quarter of a century.

From Publishers Weekly

Mar 16, 2015 – For the 27 years that the Best American Poetry series has been published, and for two "best of" editions, Lehman has invited a guest editor to select at least 50 and no more than 75 poems, with a foreword provided by Lehman himself. Those forewords are collected for the first time in this enjoyable book. They reflect general trends in poetry and criticism, along with Lehman's own concerns and his relationships with guest editors including Terrence Hayes, Charles Simic, Harold Bloom, Adrienne Rich, and Rita Dove. In 1992, Lehman called poetry "a burning issue," and that sentiment resonates throughout the collection, which does not shy away from timeliness. The foreword for 1990 references the fall of the Berlin Wall. Poetry slams are discussed with curiosity and welcome in 1995, despite the derision of some critics. Bill Clinton's creation of National Poetry Month is discussed, as are criticisms of it. Throughout all this, recurring motifs include the frequent declarations of poetry's death, the need for critics who are not poets, and the question of audience. To Lehman's mind, "poetry is unkillable" and readers are to be found everywhere, while the fate of American poetry is to be ever-evolving, not always good, but never to be dismissed.
The State of the Art
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  • $17.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Poetry
  • Published: May 15, 2015
  • Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press
  • Seller: University of Pittsburgh Press
  • Print Length: 240 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.5 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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