The Inexplicable Math of Good Poetry
By Grace Curtis for Poets’ Quarterly
It is fascinating and enlightening to listen to poets talk about poetry. In fact, one of the best things about the annually released, The Best American Poetry books, edited by a guest editor—including such notables as John Ashbery (1988), Jorie Graham (1990), Adrienne Rich (1996), and Paul Muldoon (2005)—and Series Editor, David Lehman, is the guest editors’ introductions. In these short passages, each editor talks about why he selected the poems for that year’s book. The intros are like keys that unlock the double cast-iron, triple dead-bolt locked doors of understanding, since the guest editor explains, in more or less specific—and usually eloquent—terms, what made the selected poems stand out from among the hundreds considered.