The Best American Poetry 2007

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The Best American Poetry 2007, Heather McHugh, guest editor; David Lehman, series editor. Scribner, September 2007. $16 paper

Any superlative invites suspicion, such that a person unfamiliar with the Best American legacy (a project started in 1988 by series editor David Lehman in which one of "the best" American poets sifts through the submissions of the national journals that have sifted through the stuff they've already sifted through-simple Reaganomics, really-to put together an annual anthology) might say, "Who do these people think they are?" This year, "they" are Heather McHugh. Inevitably, in her selection there is the problem of subjectivity, though it is this factor that refreshes the series each year. Lehman introduces McHugh as one who "sets store . . . by word play, puns, rhymes, the hidden life of words, 'the is in the wish, the or in the word. No word-fun should be left undone.'" And this collection ends up being what she looks for in current poetry, yet, (thankfully) is not necessarily all that's being written. She admits in her own introduction that she hoped "to include examples from the provocative field of Web life today-various sonic and kinetic and electronic poetries. I wanted, that is, to add a CD; alas, it was not permitted. …