Saturday, July 28, 2012

What Are the Best Poems of the Past 25 Years?

Reblogging Big Think: some days the way blogging rolls, especially with a workout challenge. My goal is daily blogging here and on other primary blogs. If that means more sharing, so be it. Call it content curation: I'm putting my languages and literature degrees to work. 

Agree with choices or not, the full length piece is worth reading for the great poetry links. Disagree? Post your reasons and choices in comments. Here, there or both...

In 2006 the New York Times asked a select group of literary sages: “What’s the best work of American fiction of the last 25 years?” The results of the poll stirred chatter, passions, and healthy controversy. Toni Morrison’s Beloved emerged as the voters' favorite, followed by Don DeLillo’s Underworld, Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian, and John Updike’s Rabbit tetralogy.

To the best of my knowledge, no one has yet compiled a similar list for poetry. I find this slightly surprising: whereas it might take a reader years to plough through the fiction list, anyone can consume an equivalent number of poems in a single afternoon, and so feel encouraged to join in the parlor game. Besides, while the contemporary fiction canon is fairly well established (most people interested in the Times list would already have been familiar with Beloved), contemporary poetry is a vast hodgepodge through which critics have only just begun to wade. Kvetch if you like about the reductiveness of literary “canons”: in this case, a little winnowing couldn’t hurt.

To find out what poems Book Think aka Austin Allen picked, you'll have to read the rest of What Are the Best Poems of the Past 25 Years? | Book Think | Big ThinkMore about Big Think's Book Think, 81 Posts since 2011
Book Think is a guide to "dead trees," live Web fiction, and everything in between. It features book news, reviews, literary essays, and commentary on changes in the publishing industry.  
Austin Allen is a poet and adjunct professor of creative writing at Johns Hopkins University, as well as a former editor at Big Think. He lives in Baltimore.

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