Monday, September 18, 2006

Is Best American Really "The Best?"

Interesting discussion about David Lehman's Best American Poetry series on Seth Abramson's blog. Is it the best poetry or just nepotism at its best? You can read extensively on the subject here.

An assertion made by one of the respondents got me thinking—that local and regional poetry will dominate the poetry scene (eventually). The business of poetry keeps so many of us on the fringes that big-name poets will no longer loom large over the poetry landscape. We see that happening now with blogs, writers’ groups, and self-published chapbooks. I predict that once a self-published book sells 10,000 copies, the poetry industry will hit a new level of creativity and diversity.

But what do you think? Is the tide turning? Are we catching up to publishers or is it the other way around?

2 comments:

jillypoet said...

You know, I often think, with all the many, many, many poets writing, young, old, good, bad, college, post-grad., workshops, writer's groups...how DOES one become famous and another, maybe equally as good, remain in obscurity? How did Billy Collins get his start? Mary Oliver? Who said they were good? Who decides? What if an editor is a lousy judge?

Funny, I was just looking through an old Best American (1995) because we were having a garage sale. I was trying to figure out why it was in my box of sale books. Truth is, I didn't like very many of the poems in it and I was thinking much the same that your post mentioned. Ironic!

January said...

It is puzzling to try and figure out how someone gets recognized for their work.

Ultimately talent sustains a career, but I'm starting to believe that talent plays such a small roll in sucess these days. You now have to know the right people, win the right contest, teach at the best schools, etc. It's a popularity contest; high school all over again!

I had a friend who got shafted out of appearing in a Best American edition, so I don't have nice things to say about the publiucation.

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