|Highlights of Poetry. Index of poetry. How to Write Poetry. Books read.|
How to write specific forms:
Haibun. Haiku. Hay(na)ku. Rengay. Tanka.
Concrete. Ghazal. Lai. Pantoum. Prose poem. Rondeau. Rubáiyát.
Sestina. Skaldic verse. Sonnet. Terza rima. Triolet. Tritina. Villanelle.
Bashō. The Beowulf Poet. Billy Collins. Billy Collins exercise.
Snorri's Edda. Carl Dennis. Charles Atkinson. Chase Twichell. Corey Marks.
François Villon Franz Wright. Galway Kinnell. Gary Young. The Gawain Poet.
J. D. McClatchy. J. Zimmerman. J. Zimmerman (haiku). J. Zimmerman (tanka).
Jack Gilbert. Jane Hirshfield. Jean Vengua.
Jorie Graham. Karen Braucher. Karl Shapiro. Kay Ryan.
Laureate Poets: Britain; USA.
Len Anderson. Les Murray. Li-Young Lee. Linda Pastan. Louise Glück. Mary Oliver.
Nordic Skalds. Pulitzer Poetry Prize (U.S.A). Rainer Maria Rilke Richard Hugo. Robert Bly.
Sappho. Sara Teasdale. Shiki (haiku). Snorri's Edda. Stephen Dunn.
Ted Kooser. W.S. Merwin.
Series Editor Robert Atwan. Compare with others in series:
The Best American Essays: 2009; Guest Editor Mary Oliver.
The Best American Essays: 2008; Guest Editor Adam Gopnik.
The Best American Essays: 2007; Guest Editor David Foster Wallace.
2007 2008 2009
Places of first publication.
|The essay, in partial definition, is ... a shortish prose form in which the apparent object of the piece is different from its real subject, and the writer thinks he [sic] knows what the difference is. ... The essay begins with an ordinary subject — a goldfish dies — and ends, the essayist hopes, with an unexpected subject: what is death? [Pity that this is such a cliché example, Ed.] The essay differs from the lyrical poem (which does the same kind of thing) by being in prose, but also by being funny and by being clear — the essay is rarely ambiguous in itself, as the poem might have to be. It is closer to philosophy and psychology than to poetry and polemic. ... If a poet knows too exactly what the small object means for the big subject, in fact, it doesn't feel sufficiently poetic. ... Each one of these essayists asks the essayist's essential question, which is not the preacher's or polemicist's question — how shall we live? — but Montaigne's question: what does it feel like to be alive.|
|Chad Boult, the geriatrics professor now at Johns Hopkins, ... would direct geriatricians toward training all primary-care doctors in caring for the very old, instead of providing the care themselves. ... ninety-seven percent of medical students take no course in geriatrics. ... [and he's] recruiting local nurses for a highly compressed, three-week course in how to recognize specific problems of the elderly, such as depression, malnutrition, isolation, and danger of falling.|
|On the ground a group of vultures is called a venue, but a group circling in the air is a kettle, as if they are swirling in a clear cauldron, a school of black fish swimming in a pure soup of air.|
Edited and with an introduction by David Foster Wallace; Robert Atwan, series editor.
Atwan [p. xi] summarizes criteria for an essay's inclusion, ending:
|To qualify for this volume, the essay must be a work of respectable literary quality, intended as a fully developed, independent essay on a subject of general interest (not specialized scholarship), originally written in English (or translated by the author) for publication in an American periodical during the calendar year. Today's essay is a highly flexible and shifting form, however, so these criteria are not carved in stone.|
Be sure to read David Forster Wallace's Introduction: Deciderization 2007 -- A Special Report. :
I think it's unlikely that anyone is reading this as an introduction.
Most of the people I know treat
Best American Essays
like Whitman Samplers.
They skip around, pick and choose ...
Which means that the reader has more freedom of choice, which
of course is part of what this country is all about. ...
The guest editor's intro is last, if at all.
... your guest editor is not really even the main sub-subcontractor on this job. The real Decider, in terms of processing info and reducing entropy, is Mr. Robert Atwan, the BAE series editor ... he's really the one doing the full-time reading and culling.
Given the amount of quiet, behind-the-scenes power he wields over these prize collections,
you're entitled to ask about Mr. Atwan's standard's for inclusion and forwarding;
but he's far too experienced and cagey to encourage these sorts of questions. ...
I, on the other hand, have a strict term limit. After this, I go forever back to being an ordinary civilian and BAE reader (except for the introductions). I therefore feel free here to try for at least partial transparency about my Decidering criteria, some of which are obviously — let's be grownups and just admit it — subjective. ...
But it is possible for something to be both a quantum of information and a vector of meaning.
Of the essays themselves, favorites are:
|It certainly was necessary to educate the mainstream of democratic societies to respect the rights of minorities, but now immigrants and their offspring must learn that to be offended is the price we all must pay for our freedom of speech and freedom of thought. Since many immigrants come from places where such freedom does not exist, they should be the first to appreciate its benefits.|
Documents surfaced, such as the so-called torture memo of August 1, 2002, showing that very close associates
of President Bush, apparently with his full approval,
had encouraged torture.
Lions and hyenas kill swiftly. Housecats play with their victims, but only to practice pouncing, not to cause pain. Tapeworms and the shingles virus keep their victims alive as sources of sustenance, not to cause pain. Only humans torture.
... The deeper our society descends into militarism, one-party rule, and rule by a single branch of government, the more embedded the practice of torture will become in American life.
|"She's not apologizing. ... If she was sorry," Cesar said softly, "she wouldn't do it in the first place."|
|Give me some people with very fanatical ideas about the sanctity of habeas corpus and the length of time an African American or any other American ought to wait in line to vote. Give me some people who are not so evolved that they have forgotten what it is to stand firm under fire or even to squat near the fire in a cave. Give me an accountant who can still throw a rock.|
|Simon has found that physical pain often trumps psychological terror. "If you have something that's hurting you physically, the pain is the hierarchy [sic]," she said. To that end, she has been known to take the stage in tight boots, to jab her hand with clutched safety pins, and even, just before going on, to ask band members to spank her.|
The moral life, I believe, rests on three pillars:
value, virtue, and duty.
Some hold that all the weight can be made to rest on only one of them:
value, according to utilitarians;
duty, according to their deontological opponents.
Whether or not any such reductions can be successfully carried out.
we cannot give a coherent account of the moral life without doing justice to all the conceptions
that support it -- to value, virtue, and duty --
and showing their place, for human beings, in the good life.
|More important than questions about motives are questions about whether there is an obligation for the rich to give, and if so how much should they give.|
More at Environmental Ethics Blog.
Includes the essay "Owls" by Mary Oliver, also available in two of her collections:
|Journal of first publication||2009||2008||2007|
|The American Scholar||2009||2007|
|Condé Naste Portfolio||2009|
|Georgia Review, The||2008|
|The Gettysburg Review||2009|
|The Iowa Review||2009||2007|
|The Literary Review||2009|
|The Missouri Review||2009|
|n + 1||2007|
|New Republic, The||2007|
|New York Times Book Review, The||2007|
|New York Times Magazine, The||2007|
|New York Review of Books, The||2008||2007|
|New Yorker, The||2008||2007|
|A Public Space||2009|
|Southern Humanities Review||2008|
|Threepenny Review, The||2007|
|The Virginia Quarterly Review||2009|
I marked with a star an essay that I liked particularly, and with more than one star if I loved it. Approximate ratings (your kilometerage may vary):
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