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American poetry puts myself above all else

By Harriet Staff

Jay Parini, for the Guardian Books blog, has made a list of “The 10 best American poems:”

For whatever reason, I woke up today with a list of the 10 greatest American poems in my head that had been accumulating through the night. Every list is subjective, and of course the use of “greatest” even more so—but these are not just “favorite” poems. I’ve been thinking about American poetry—and teaching it to university students—for nearly 40 years, and these are the 10 poems that, in my own reading life, have seemed the most durable; poems that shifted the course of poetry in the United States, as well as poems that I look forward to teaching every year because they represent something indelible.

Really, he woke up thinking about a list of the best poems? Dude needs better dreams. Anyway, the list begins predictably with Whitman’s “Song of Myself,” and then moves on to Stevens, Dickinson, Frost, Hayden, Eliot, Bishop, Bradstreet, Lowell, and Ashbery. The only thing surprising about this list is how unsurprising it is, which is plenty. But still—a good reminder that we’re #1!


Posted in Poetry News on Tuesday, March 15th, 2011 by Harriet Staff.