The Best American Poetry 2006
Guest Editor Billy Collins
Series Editor David Lehman

* David Lehman's Introductory Essay. * Billy Collins' Introductory Essay.
* Selection criteria. * Poets. * First publication for poems.

Introductory Essays to
The Best American Poetry 2006.

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The Best American Poetry 2006 begins with an essay by the series editor, David Lehman, introducing this year's guest editor, Billy Collins.

David Lehman:

Billy Collins:

In his insightful and delightful (if a little tetchy at times) introductory essay, Collins:
  1. Identifies selection criteria for The Best American Poetry 2006.
  2. Defends the use of the word 'best': "The designation 'best' doesn't bother me. At worst, the title is a marketing strategy designed to encourage book sales and maybe convert some new readers to poetry ... 'best' simply meant I could pick what I liked ... I was always convinced that I could find enough very good poems to make an edition that would demonstrate the strength and imagination and diversity of the poetry being written in America today."
  3. Acknowledges: "I am rarely sure of what we are talking about when we talk about poetry" and argues for a wide definition of the genre.
  4. Comments on the appearance of inherited forms in this collection, as well as "ad hoc patternings"; and on the value of form in setting up a trust in the reader as well as the current frequent substitution for form by tone of voice (where "I come to trust or distrust the authority of the poem after reading just a few lines") in establishing trust.

See also Billy Collins' poetry and exercise of how to write a Billy Collins-esque poem.

Selection criteria by editor Billy Collins for
The Best American Poetry 2006.

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Among the criteria for attraction and thence possible selection in The Best American Poetry 2006 by Billy Collins:

  1. "Poems ... [that] caught me in their spell."
  2. "A human voice speaking to me ... interested in my participation as a reader." "The recognizable sound of a human voice is always an inducement to continue."
  3. "Manifest content, a degree of surface clarity."
  4. "Poems where the poet did not seem completely sure of where he or she was headed. ... Being oriented at the outset of the poem offers the promise of being pleasantly disoriented later as the poem moves into more complex territory where the waters are more strangely stirred."
  5. Opening lines that start "in the 'factual'" with a poem that starts in the shallow end of the swimming pool and "gets deeper as it goes along."
  6. "'The sound of a mind alive in the syntactical process of discovering what it might be thinking'" [quoting James Longenbach].
  7. Poems that "combine an acute awareness of tradition with a unique sense of voice."

Among the criteria for exclusion in The Best American Poetry 2006 by Billy Collins:

  1. Deal breakers, which he introduced by citing some of John Ciardi's: "flaws that prevented him from reading any further. ... the mention of mythological beings and the apostrophe 'Oh!' found places on his list." Collins cheerfully declares (implying the fickleness of such lists) that he cannot read further in a poem with the word cicada. [Exercise for the reader: which cicada-bearing poem entered this book?]
  2. Poems that are largely memories, particularly of family members or of items associated with a dead person. [Exercise for the reader: which family-member poem entered this book?]
  3. "Poems that presume an interest on my part in the poet-speaker's psychic condition (usually misery)." [They all do.]
  4. "Static poems where the poet is content to decorate a memory, 'poeticize' an experience, or simply indulge in the folly of 'self-expression'."

Poets of
The Best American Poetry 2006.

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This collection is edited by Billy Collins. See also:

Of the 75 poets whose work is included, we have web pages on:

Some highlights:

First publication for poems of
The Best American Poetry 2006.

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Acknowledges first publications in a smaller variety (12% less) of magazines than did The Best American Poetry: 2005:

  1. Alaska Quarterly Review
  2. American Poetry Review
  3. Atlantic Review
  4. The Atlantic Monthly
  5. Barrow Street
  6. Boulevard
  7. The Briar Cliff Review
  8. The Canary
  9. Cincinnati Review
  10. Columbia Poetry Review
  11. The Connecticut Review
  12. Crab Orchard Review
  13. Crazyhorse
  14. CROWD
  15. Ecotone
  16. Endicott Review
  17. Failbetter
  18. Field
  19. Five Points
  20. Fulcrum
  21. Georgia Review
  22. Gettysburg Review
  23. Gulf Coast
  24. Harvard Review
  25. The Hat
  26. Hayden's Ferry Review
  27. Iodine Poetry Journal
  28. The Iowa Review
  29. The Kenyon Review
  30. LIT
  31. Margie
  32. Michigan Quarterly Review
  33. MiPoesias
  34. New American Writing
  35. The New Criterion
  36. New England Review
  37. New Letters
  38. The New Yorker
  39. Nightsun
  40. The Paris Review
  41. Poetry
  42. Poetry Daily
  43. POOL: A Journal of Poetry
  44. Rhino
  45. River Styx
  46. Shenandoah
  47. Shiny
  48. Subtropics
  49. Third Coast
  50. Verse
  51. Virginia Quarterly Review
  52. Yale Review

Links and Books.

Links and Books.

[Thanks for visiting.]