Monday, November 03, 2008

BAP 2008

Have been reading the Best American Poetry 2008 (which should really be called Some Nice-ish American Poetry 2008). My favorites:

Ciaran Berry, Electrocuting an Elephant

Robert Hass, I am your waiter tonight and my name is Dmitri (a fairly uninspired reading of which can be heard here, at 47:45)

Bob Hicok, O my pa-pa

Susan Mitchell, Ritual

Ron Padgett, Method, or Kenneth Koch (which I can't find online, alas, but see Padgett's other poems in The Sienese Shredder - a journal I'll confess I'd never heard of before)

Alberto Rios, The Rain that Falls Here

John Rybicki, Three Lanterns

Alan Sullivan, Divide and Conquer

***

The thing that always strikes me about the BAP is how much American Poetry as defined by it as an old person's game. Here's the age distribution of the 75 poets appearing in the 2008 volume:

Under 30: 2
30 - 35: 5
35 - 40: 8
40 - 45: 3
45 - 50: 6
50 - 55: 6
55 - 60: 18
60 - 65: 9
65 - 70: 7
70 - 75: 5
Over 75: 6

Don't get me wrong - I'm not saying this is necessarily a bad thing. Some of the people in that 55-60 bracket are among my favorite poets writing today. But I can't help feeling that this would be a more exciting franchise if it published more work by younger poets, even at the cost of leaving some of the old reliables out. If nothing else, it would make the book more useful.

4 comments:

Space Bar said...

BAP is such an unaesthetic acronym.

Preeti said...

the stats would be probably be more useful if they were compared to a relevant benchmark, Mr. ex-consultant.

km said...

Some of the people in that 55-60 bracket are among my favorite poets writing today

On a somewhat related note, did you read Gladwell's column on "Late Bloomers" in a recent New Yorker?

Falstaff said...

sb: True.

preeti: Not really. They may seem more useful if one added a 'relevant benchmark' (whatever that might be), but it wouldn't actually mean anything. And being an ex-consultant, I no longer need to pretend to add value.

km: Yes, I did. And I think there's some truth to that. But also I think there's a halo effect at work.