Tuesday, February 20, 2007

David Lehman's favorite poetry anthologies

David Lehman, editor of the Best American Poetry series and the new Oxford Book of American Poetry, named his favorite anthologies for The Week magazine.

A couple of the titles:

Reading Lyrics edited by Robert Gottlieb and Robert Kimball

Whether you consider them as poems or as occupying a field of their own, the best lyrics of Lorenz Hart, Ira Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, Johnny Mercer, Dorothy Fields, Oscar Hammerstein, Gus Kahn, Leo Robin, and many others amount to an American cultural glory full of wit and romance and charm. This is an indispensable book.

The New American Poetry edited by Donald Allen

In the 1960s battle of the anthologies, Allen’s—which represented the countercultural, adversarial, and avant-garde alternatives to the academic poetry of the time—won readers’ hearts and minds and gained legitimacy for the Beats, Black Mountain poets, and the New York School.
Read about the other four collections of Lehman's list.

Lehman's most recent book of poems is When a Woman Loves a Man.

The title poem opens:
When she says margarita she means daiquiri.
When she says quixotic she means mercurial.
And when she says, "I'll never speak to you again,"
she means, "Put your arms around me from behind
as I stand disconsolate at the window."

He's supposed to know that.
Read on.

--Marshal Zeringue

© Campaign for the American Reader. Reprinted with permission.