Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Book Review: The Best American Poetry 2008

The Best American Poetry 2008, Guest Editor: Charles Wright, Series Editor: David Lehman.

I selected this from the New Releases shelf at the library because of April being National Poetry Month and I wanted to broaden my literary horizons by reading some contemporary poets.

I'll be honest and say that, as a regular everyday reader trying to read more poetry, I struggled with this collection. Although I was an English/Communications major, I didn't study a great deal of poetry (and it's been waaaaayyyy too long since my last college class where I would have done so). In that sense, I don't even feel qualified to offer a review. What I can say is how this collection made me feel. It seemed as if a sadness or a depression hung over this book, as many of the works seemed to deal with heavy topics - and given the oft-depressing news cycle in 2008, perhaps that is to be expected.

I liked the Contributors' Notes and Comments at the end of the book, and as someone needing a refresher on poetry terminology and introduction to today's poets, this was helpful. Each poem in The Best American Poetry is presented alphabetically by poet, and the Contributors' section has a brief bio of each poet along with his or her interpretations of (and inspiration for) their work. I always find it interesting to hear reflections by authors on their work, so I enjoyed this section.

As I said, I selected this because I wanted to become more familiar with contemporary poetry and poets. Although this collection wasn't my favorite and was challenging to read at times, it certainly made me appreciate today's poetry and continue to respect those who write it. Rating: 2.5

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