I began reading the Best American Poetry anthologies in 1997. It was a gift for my birthday that year. The first few volumes I own have scribbles on each page espousing the quick reaction of a 25, 26, 27… year old me. When I look back I sometimes agree, and sometimes think, “that dumbass didn’t know anything.”
At some point social media allowed me instantly to reach out to the poets who moved me, whose work was so delicious you immediately wanted them to know they just wrecked you. They are my people. And some are now my friends.
Every year I look forward to walking into an actual bookstore and buying what sometimes is the only physical book I purchase all year. And while I know that reading The Best American Poetry is about as valuable as only listening to top 40 radio and does not reflect the undercurrent, the pulse, the river, the soul of poetry it is still a valuable ritual to me.
Each year I love to see the take, the angle, the current events, the mindset, the zeitgeist that the guest editor and the poets selected take. I love the notes in the back. I love the poets that excite me, that frustrate me, that bore me, the ones I just don’t get.
This year I thought I would take something that started as personal scribbling, that matured into awkward stalking, and turn it into live journaling. This may take a few months. And I will often be quick, and judgey, and bitchy, and wrong. All love.
And congratulations to the authors for being in the Best American Poetry. You are my lifeline to the poetry world. And to this world, which needs more and more storytellers. Always.