BAP 2015 -- Let's talk about the poems

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Kylabelle

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This is really interesting. I expect some of us here have already run across it; I just saw it this morning, courtesy of another member linking it elsewhere.

I started a thread in Roundtable: http://absolutewrite.com/forums/sho...Apologizes-and-Agonizes&p=9554364#post9554364

But a discussion here seems appropriate also.... So here is the direct link to Alexie's article: http://blog.bestamericanpoetry.com/...try-with-happiness-i-love-that-poem-je-1.html

There was simultaneously a thread started here in the Poetry room about this issue which took off from the Jezebel article, in which the poem in question was thoroughly discarded by some, and in detail, as utterly bad. That thread is here: http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?310861-Poetry-and-Identity-Politics Both the Roundtable thread and the Identity Politics thread here focused on Alexie's stance and the whole question of the single controversial poem, why he chose it, why he kept it in, etc.

So maybe this thread can focus on the rest of the anthology. I know at least a couple of us wanted to discuss the poems, now that all the back story has been talked out.

I got my paper copy Saturday and have been reading it with lots of pleasure. Most of the poems so far (I'm maybe half through) are the kind of writing that instantly humbles me and any idea I might have of being skilled at this art. They also inspire me to write more and get better at it.

I even have a favorite (of those I've read so far): "For the Young Woman I Saw Hit by a Car While Riding Her Bike", by Laura Kasischke. What grabs me about this poem is that it seems at first and on the surface to be simply a story of what happened, the poet telling how her reaction was out of proportion -- until the single word "swan" begins to signal that something entirely other is really going on. The subtlety with which that something else is both hinted at and only possibly revealed is amazing, graceful, so skillful it almost doesn't show at all.

I'll stop there.... Anyone else reading this and want to talk about the poems?
 
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Kylabelle

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Okay, editing the OP and changing the title doesn't bring the thread up to new posts, so I'm doing that.
 

Kylabelle

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.... Anyone else reading this and want to talk about the poems?

Guess not. :(

I did take note that Alexie is also one of the judges of the National Book Awards in Poetry, coming up.
 

Thedrellum

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I'd talk about it, but I must admit I'm prejudiced as I have a poem inside.

I've only read the first few poems so far (having other reading more pressing at the moment) but it's good to know/hear that people are enjoying the book despite the controversy.
 

Kylabelle

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I'd talk about it, but I must admit I'm prejudiced as I have a poem inside.

I've only read the first few poems so far (having other reading more pressing at the moment) but it's good to know/hear that people are enjoying the book despite the controversy.

Ha! Well, your poem is a delight. Thanks for, er, outing yourself.

I admit I kind of stalled in my earlier intention to read straight through -- partly because other books became more important in the moment. But I got halfway and then have been sort of poking around through the remainder. I'd read yours and laughed and also admired the wit and skill of it.

And congratulations for your poem's selection. :Thumbs:
 

Thedrellum

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Thank you! It's good to know that people are reading the BAP. I had a few friends call me and commiserate about THAT GUY possibly taking attention away from the anthology as a whole...

I wonder: Do you read the poem notes at the end of the book as well, or just the poems? I tend to flip back and forth--reading straight through, but checking the bios and notes as I go.

Anyway, I'll try to get back here when I start going through the book again.
 

Kylabelle

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I posted somewhere in one of these threads that the controversy was the reason I bought the book, in fact. I might not have run across information about it otherwise, and my book buying budget is limited so I would not have sought it out.

Learning that Sherman Alexie was editor this year, and then that he had chosen so many women poets, those two things convinced me I wanted the book. The poem-of-shame got raked over the coals here pretty thoroughly, but I didn't feel very strongly about either the poem, or the controversy, to be honest. Except that I hoped it would draw more attention to poetry in general.

I will eventually read every word of the notes, but not until I have taken in more of the poems. I don't flip back and forth that way -- I find it irritating to keep having to find my place in the notes again, and even two bookmarks don't help.

I'd love to know how you feel about the specific poem of yours that was chosen: did it surprise you? Would you have preferred another poem of yours to have been the one? Did it make you feel differently at all about the poem that was chosen? (Not that I am suggesting any of that as likely, but it does make me curious!)
 

Thedrellum

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It definitely surprised me that a poem of mine was chosen. I've had poems in the Best New Poets anthology before, but that's something you can submit to on your own, or are nominated for by a magazine. The BAP, though, it's all up to the guest editor. Sometime last year, Sherman Alexie wrote me an e-mail telling me he admired my poem, having read it in Subtropics. But I didn't know he was editing BAP at that time--I was just excited/honored to receive the compliment.

No, there's no other poem really I would've preferred. I mean, any of my poems I would've been honored to have chosen. A lot of what I write is formal and sound-based, so I think "Ode to the Common Housefly" is a pretty good example of my writing (or at least the upper levels of it).

But, yeah, it definitely made me feel differently about the poem. Whenever a poem gets published or receives attention like this, it makes me see it in a new light. It's not only a poem I like but one that someone else likes, and that's an entirely new thing to fathom. Also, I ended up putting it pretty close to the front in my current manuscript, which I might not have done without the outside assurance that the poem is good. As much as outside assurance can assure me of that.