The Best American Poetry 2009, edited by David Wagoner, series edited by David Lehman.
This is a series that has maintained a high level of quality, despite the diverse array of editors selected over the years. The series began in 1988, with John Ashbery as guest editor. These books, while not always consistent, consistently present good poetry, and this year is no exception. There are poems from many of my favorite poets, including Denise Duhamel, Albert Goldbarth, Bob Hicok, Thomas Lux, Jude Nutter, and Matthew Zapruder.
If your not that familiar with poetry, an anthology like this is a good place to start. Find some poems you like and read more by those people. Finding good poetry, in bookstores, libraries, is all about knowing names.
I particularly liked the poem “Concerning the Land to the South of our Neighbors to the North” by Mark Bibbins, a poem that mentions each of the fifty states in wonderfully inventive ways.
However, there’s no realistic way to actually gather a year’s worth of the BEST American poetry. This series is just a nice annual that usually picks good editors and has good stuff. But it’s not comprehensive or even very thorough. It is an enjoyable collection of poems, though. Grade: B