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"Messianicity is not messianism ... even though this distinction remains fragile and enigmatic." (Jacques Derrida)

Friday, December 13, 2013

Best Poetry of 2013

It’s not quite accurate to title this list “The Best of.” For one thing, I never start any year with the idea in mind to compile a comprehensive sampling of American poetry. But calling it “My Favorite Books” somehow lacks gravitas. And let’s face it, we all like year-end “Best of” lists. So this, then, is a random assortment of books that gave me great pleasure this year. I reviewed two of them, Imago, and An Ethic, and intend to review a third next year (The Unfinished). But unfortunately I don't have the time to annotate this list. Probably the most notable are the first three titles, which collect work long unavailable by some of our major poets. The appearance of the Ceravalo and the Lamantia are particularly exciting, while Bernstein's Recalculating is perhaps the finest thing he's done so far. Likewise DuCharme's The Unfinished. Alfred Starr Hamilton writes from a very strange and beautiful planet and GC Waldrep's complex music is a wonder. And someone really should publish Keith Jones'amazing meditation on Cy Twombly, sigh loop echo.

N.B. An earlier version of this post inexplicably omitted what, for me, is The Book of the Year, namely Robert Duncan's Collected Later Poems and Plays. Peter Quartermain's work editing the two volumes of Duncan's poetry and plays has been nothing less than heroic and lovers of Duncan owe him a profound debt of gratitude for his meticulous care and his, as usual, brilliant essays.

The Collected Later Poems and Plays, Robert Duncan | U Calif Press

Collected Poems, Joe Ceravalo | Wesleyan

Collected Poems, Philip Lamantia | U Calif Press

Elegies, Muriel Rukeyser | New Directions

Under The Sign, Ann Lauterbach | Penguin

Recalculating, Charles Bernstein | FSG

Imago, Matthew Cooperman | Jaded Ibis

An Ethic, Christina Davis | Nightboat

At The Point, Joseph Massey | Shearsman

Urban Tumbleweed, Harryette Mullen | Gray Wolf

The Unfinished, Books I-IV, Mark DuCharme | BlazeVOX

The Inside of an Apple, Joshua Beckman | Wave

A Motive for Disappearance, Ray Ragosta | Burning Deck

Odyssey & Oracle, Jenn McCreary | Least Weasel

Videotape, Andrew Zawacki | Counterpath

Susquehanna, G.C. Waldrep | Omnidawn

A Dark Dreambox of Another Kind, Alfred Starr Hamilton | The Song Cave

Rilke's Roses, David Norton Need | will be published next year

sigh loop echo Keith Jones | ms.

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