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The Best American Poetry 2013 (Best American Poetry)

3.45  ·  Rating details ·  243 Ratings  ·  55 Reviews
Edited this year by beloved and inventive poet Denise Duhamel, the foremost annual anthology of contemporary American poetry returns.

Over the last twenty-five years, the Best American Poetry series has become an annual rite of autumn, eagerly awaited and hotly debated: “an essential purchase” (The Washington Post). This year, guest editor Denise Duhamel brings her wit and
Paperback, 240 pages
Published September 10th 2013 by Scribner
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Sep 05, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
The Best American Poetry: 2013 edited by David Lehman is a latest in the Scribner Best American Poetry series that has been running since 1989. Lehman is also the editor of The Oxford Book of American Poetry and the author of several books of poetry. He teaches at The New School in New York City. Denise Duhamel is the guest editor of this series who writes the introduction. She is the author of several volumes of poetry.

Lehman writes the forward and it carries a Shelley theme. Duhamel has a ligh
Virginia Aronson
"By the way," remarks former Poet Laureate Billy Collins in the end notes of this year's collection of supposedly the wowest poems American poets have conjured up, "is anyone who is not a poet reading this?"

Good question. I would guess the answer is a very soft no. This is because most Americans don't consider themselves "poetry people." And a collection like this will do little to change their minds.

Why? Because post postmodern poetry is too cute. It's esoteric and academic. It's language gymna
Peycho Kanev
Oct 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Sugar Maples, January

What years of weather did to branch and bough
No canopy of shadow covers now,

And these great trunks, when the wind’s rough and bleak,
Though little shaken, can be heard to creak.

It is not time, as yet, for rising sap
And hammered spiles. There’s nothing there to tap.

For now, the long blue shadows of these trees
Stretch out upon the snow, and are at ease.

Richard Wilbur
Kevin Lawrence
Sep 11, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: poetry
A careful selection of 75 poems published in North America in one year deemed “the best” should yield some truly rewarding reading experiences, but unfortunately this is one of the weaker volumes in this series. It all comes down to the guest editor, Denise Duhamel, who favors the type of poem she tends to write: slight poems that are content with a quirky perspective, a one-liner, a quick turn-of-phrase, hip pop references, and that aspire to arrive at something that feels like a half-truth or ...more
Feb 25, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
I had such a hard time making it through this whole anthology. There are flashes of good and flashes of great but so much bad. Like, the poem that gets the most space, 13 pages of space, Mitch Susskind's "Joe Adamczyk," is a boring-ass narrative of some man's later-life identity crisis and self-awakening through mathematical philosophy and younger women? Brought on by his wife's menopause? It's edgy or exciting for a male poet to write a male character who thinks about a woman as a "cunt" while ...more
Brad Hodges
"Poetry mustn't try to compete with the sound bites of politics or the breezy vapidity of pop culture. Rather it should serve as the antidote for them." So writes guest editor Denise Duhamel in The Best American Poetry 2013.

I have a confession: I often don't get poetry. I'm a fairly literate guy, and I love the idea of poetry, of the romantics like Byron and Shelley, the debauchery of Baudelaire and Rimbaud, the Beat Allen Ginsberg. But when I try to read it my eyes glaze over. I'm not quite sur
Nov 27, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Thoughts jotted down (digitally, because everything is digital these days) while reading:

- Didn't even finish reading the foreword. David, you are such a fucking bore.

- Jericho Brown's "Hustle" had me looking out the window and rethinking my whole life.

- Kwame Dawes' "Death" was just very beautiful.

- "See everything; overlook a great deal; correct a little" (Stephen Dunn, "The Statue of Responsibility")

- "My talent is in looking like someone you want when the lights are on and like anyone who'll
I've read a few of the Best American Poetry series and this one feels weaker. I can't tell if it's my particular taste but that's what this review is based on. I feel like quite a few of the selections are ones I would not expect to find in a "best" collection. Furthermore, there is always something to be desired when the formatting is off on an ebook when considering poetry or prose. Format means a lot when someone is writing either poetry and prose. This alone made me mark down two stars. I ca ...more
Jan 08, 2014 rated it liked it
A Duhamel edited volume of Best American Poetry? I'm in!!!

But... Strangely, I ended up loving far fewer poems than usual in this volume and actively disliked more. I thought Duhamel would be closer to Adrienne Rich's editing style, honestly, but her choices stay pretty safe.

It's still an interesting look at what is currently popular in American poetry (even if American poetry is only read by poets as Billy Collins aptly states in his endnotes) though, as always, it leans too heavily on academics
Nov 12, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
I typically enjoy reading "The Best American Poetry" series to get a sense of what's "in" in poetry circles. I have my favorites, and this is usually a great way to sample a nice mix of authors.

Maybe it was the guest editor's (Denise Duhamel) selections and her style, but there were very few poems that I connected with. What a crazy start! The first three poems dropped f-bombs. While not easily offended, I was surprised that the odds would favor that type of language in the opening set.

I came a
Oswego Public Library District
Longtime poetry enthusiasts and newbies alike will enjoy The Best American Poetry 2013. Anthologies like this one are a great way to be introduced to different poets, poems, and prose. Seventy-five poems are included from both well-known and up-and-coming poets. Look for poems by Sherman Alexie, Billy Collins, Thomas Lux, and Amy Lemmon. 2013 is the 25th anniversary of The Best American Poetry books. –JM

Place a hold on The Best American Poetry 2013by clicking here. We also have the 2004, 2008, 2
Joey Gamble
Jul 20, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's no secret that "best" is a dangerous modifier, but these poems achieve it in all the ways that they can. Though I am saddened by Duhamel's contention that online journals are doing a disservice to the upcoming generation of poets, I think she has dispatched the duties of her editorial position judiciously. These poems run the gamut in form and style; while no one volume can grasp the breadth of American poetry at any particular time, this one makes a valiant attempt. For any serious student ...more
Sep 28, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2013
I can't believe that anyone would think this the 'Best" American poetry. No wonder the public doesn't care about poetry. I like Duhamel. Her own work is so much better than most of what's here.

I do very much like Nin Andrews - The Art of Drinking Tea. And a very few others. But overall, very disappointed.
Not my favorite in the BAP series. I really didn't care for a lot of these pieces. Some had the usual amount of sincerity and intrigue, some were shallow, vapid and bizarre. I was expecting better from Denise Duhammel's turn as guest editor. A lot better.

Highlights include seeing the ever interesting Kim Addonizio and Dorianne Laux together again.
Cara Ellison
Jan 11, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, e-book
These get worse every year. This collection was weak and uninspiring.
T Fool
Apr 14, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed-books
Being a poetry judge – any judge – requires, next to a body of experience, a removal of bias, what we call ‘fairness’. David Lehman, the series editor of The Best American Poetry, has come to show this in his choice, over the years, of guest editors whose style preferences vary. This variance is in keeping with what over the past 40 or 50 years has come to be a standard way of appraising many things.

We’ve become uncomfortable with any overarching set of criteria, any ‘dominant narrative’, and f
Marc Kohlman
Jan 23, 2014 rated it liked it
Much of the poetry throughout this book I was very impressed with and helped inspired me to write my own work. I read this as part of my Creative Writing: Poetry class and was really struck by the different formats each of the poets in this book used. Traci Brimball's "Dear Thanatos" was the first poem form this text that I read. I was struck with the provocative imagery used within it, how it conveys new fear and the compounding effects it has. It raises the question, where does an image indivi ...more
Ben Pieper
Overall, I would give this collection a B average (technically an 84.4% avg.) as far as the quality of the poems contained. I know that attempting to quantify poetic effect/value is a ridiculous gesture, but I am simply a ridiculous person. Of course, this is purely based off of my own tastes and will not necessarily reflect your average satisfaction rate.

I have not read too many modern poetry anthologies, but I am starting to do so for two reasons. First, to narrow down my own literary tastes.
Jonathan Moore
Jan 31, 2014 rated it liked it
When a book of any genre claims to be the best, and plasters its cover with a quote from the Chicago Tribune emphasizing that sentiment, it ought to live up to that expectation. And quick. However, "The Best American Poetry 2013" does the former, yet not the latter, and instead starts off, for the most part, prosaic and slow. In its opening pages it tries to be hip and edgy, like a father in mid life crisis who tries desperately to connect with his apathetic teenage son. It's full of poems that ...more
Danny Knestaut
*The Best American Poetry 2013* is indeed quintessentially American. From Billy Collins's “Foundling,” in which he opens with “How unusual to be living a life of continual self-expression,” to Aaron Smith's “What It Feels Like to Be Aaron Smith,” this volume of poetry is packed with unflinching, unembarrassed, unapologetic celebrations of the self. It's immodesty is absolutely American.

Denise Duhamel, the guest editor for this installment, is prolific with navel-gazing poetry wrapped in irony, a
Michael Steger
Nov 26, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an excellent, wide-ranging collection that includes poems by Kim Addonizio and Matthew Zapruder, and a whole host of poets wedged alphabetically in between.

The guest dj here is Denise Duhamel. You can read her 2009 poem, 'Delta Flight 659' here: (Sean Penn was the James Franco of an earlier era.)

There are older, established poets, such as Richard Wilbur, John Ashbery, and Louise Gluck; and there are many younger poets, like Laura Kasischke, Doroth
Mark Flowers
Jul 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
SLJ review:

DUHAMEL, Denise & David Lehman, eds. The Best American Poetry 2013. 224p. Scribner. Sept. 2013. Tr $35. ISBN 978-1-4767-0802-7.

Adult/High School-Duhamel, guest editor of this entry in Scribner’s fantastic-if often controversial-series, notes in her introduction that where previous editors have focused on defining “best” or “poetry,” she “struggled most with the word ‘American.’” This admission speaks volumes about her selection criteria: rat
C.S. Lay
Feb 23, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was pleasantly surprised by the contents of this book. While there were some poems that did not connect with me, for the most part reading this book felt as if I was being introduced to both some new masters and friends. If you are looking for a book that can offer you an eclectic taste, confuse you, bring you to near tears once and take you on a few journeys then give this anthology a try. You just might find yourself either stumbling across an old favorite that you recognize (J. Allyn Rosser ...more
Chelsea K.
May 02, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Solid, solid poetry collection. There are some duds obviously, but there are also gems, which I've narrowed down to three above the rest.

"Pachyderm" by Sherman Alexie. Just in general, I have a huge literary crush on Mr. Alexie. Here, he takes up a unique literal list form of poetry, and employs a sort of free-floating stream of consciousness writing that starts off extremely humorous and gets dark and serious extremely fast. He manages it subtly though somehow, and without unwanted abruptness.
My copy of this book, which I read solely because of obscure connections to the guest editor, kind of looks like a dragon now because of all the corners of paper sticking out the top. I just keep leafing through it over and over like some kind of addict. Lately I have ditched all my normal reading for poems...which is weird because I was going to give them up for Lent in order to escape being stalked by love poems...but I have utterly failed at caring for myself. So, poetry.

Billy Collins wants
Karen Douglass
Every year I wait for the current volume in this series. This year Denise Duhamel is the guest editor, and she's done a good job selecting a new crop of best poems. Finding that Kim Addonizio leads the alphabetical pack pleases me. "Divine" is just that, although not the divinity of Dante, thankfully.

Some of the entries feel all too familiar--Ashbery, for example, seems to own beachfront property in BAP land. However, complaints aside, each volume offers the front matter by series editor David L
Sep 06, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A short review this time -

A poetry anthology is like a great, big international conference: you have poems from various states, countries and cultures present, each sitting in their respectful pages, their presence contributing to the literary atmosphere of the room. Some poems are absolutely outstanding, the kind of people you want to talk to over and over again at such a gathering. Some are the guests you speak to once and then forget about soon afterwards. Others seem like they are putting on
Sally Ember
Jan 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Didn't know I was missing rhymes until Richard Wilbur provided his four perfect, sweetly rhyming couplets, an ode to everything's having its own time, especially sap waiting in winter in "Sugar Maples," January":
"It's not time, as yet, for rising sap
And hammered spikes. There's nothing there to tap."
Stacey Waite delights, troubles and provokes with "The Kind of Man I am at the DMV" with these kinds of stanzas:
"because, yes that man is a girl. I, man, am a girl
I am the kind of man who is a girl
Tracy St Claire
I got this as a "blind date" book from the library. I do not usually read poetry and so the rating is lower than it might be from a poetry fan. I have a liberal arts education from a fine college, so I think I am qualified to review,

One reviewer in the book asked if only poets would read that book, and after reading the book I'm asking the same question. With poetry you have to read every word, no skimming, and concentrate. I did that. Even so, I did not understand the concept of nearly half the
Feb 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This annual collection is always worthwhile and delightful to read. Although not all the poems in it are equally impressive to me, the wide variety of poems and styles of writing is amazing. This edition includes one poem that is 11 pages long and another written by two poets. Although I often see the same names of poets showing up in this edition year after year and wonder sometimes if the periodicals scanned for poems could not be expanded and include other poets, I've never been disappointed ...more
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Sacramento Public...: April 2014 Reading Challenge: Poetry 23 34 May 05, 2014 10:10AM  
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David Lehman is a poet and the series editor for The Best American Poetry series. He teaches at The New School in New York City.
More about David Lehman...

Other Books in the Series

Best American Poetry (1 - 10 of 29 books)
  • The Best American Poetry 1988 (Best American Poetry)
  • The Best American Poetry 1989
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  • The Best American Poetry 1992 (Best American Poetry)
  • Best American Poetry 1993 (Best American Poetry)
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  • The Best American Poetry 1995
  • The Best American Poetry 1996
  • The Best American Poetry 1997 (Best American Poetry)