Best American Poetry 2011, Part 2

Cactus, Teddy Roosevelt National Park

Ok, change of plan.  I was writing about the poems in The Best American Poetry 2011 that I wish I’d written.  Today I am writing about something I saw in the poems that was interesting.  There’s something interesting in almost all of the poems, so the list of ones to write about is getting longer!  Here are poems by writers F through H.

“In November” by Alan Feldman is interesting to me because it is so present.  A father writes about his daughter stopping to feed her baby and his gratitude that he is there for her, like the trees are there for the birds.

I did not like “The Amy Poems” because they were a jumble – “an arrangement of derangements” which is a line in “Lighthead’s Guide to the Galaxy” by Terrance Hayes.  But they got under my skin and that made me itch to read them again.

Farrah Field, the author of the Amy Poems uses this line:  “Hang up your hang ups in an empty world,” and Beckian Fritz Goldberg says, “It’s something to hang onto,” in “Everything is Nervous.”  “It” is the air.  This poem drove me crazy but like she says, “…that’s where my mind goes.”

Benjamin Grossberg says the poems in his Space Traveler series are “lyrics based on an extended metaphor.”  In “The Space Traveler Talks Frankly about Desire,” Grossberg uses the image of a wondering earth that’s spun itself away from the sun as a metaphor for desire.  Unanchored earth is desire. 

“Poppies” by Jennifer Grotz is a poem I wish I’d written.  It tumbles from poppies to clouds to rain to moths….and has this great image of rain as “falling sparks that light nothing only because the ground interrupts them.”

In “August Notebook:  A Death” Robert Hass writes about his brother’s death with factual details and a detour into the history of African American morticians; he brings in the lyrics of a ballad by Mississippi John Hurt about a man who was murdered, and ends with a remembered argument with his brother that you know will be replayed again and again, long after the man’s death.

I would write anything like Jane Hirshfield, including the narrative description of how she came to the poem, “The Cloudy Vase,” a four line poem that tells volumes about love and the clarity of what is.

Finally, every line in Andrew Hudgins, “The Funeral Sermon” ends with the letter “l,” which you may recall from an earlier post is a liquid letter:  droll, funeral, thrall, shrill pastoral, frail, trial cruel, surreal control, real, grill, roll visceral, chorale.  Forty-three lovely liquid lines.


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