Guest Editor: RITA DOVE

  Amid an "explosion in the interest of poetry nationwide" (The New York Times), The Best American Poetry 2000 delivers one of the finest volumes yet in this renowned series. The appearance of poems on Web sites, bus and subway placards, highway billboards, and TV sitcoms and commercials testifies to the resurgence in the popularity of poetry today. Yet there is something transcendent, series editor David Lehman writes in his foreword, about "the pleasures of the tangible book…which you can annotate as you peruse, and which shall in time occupy its destined place on the shelf where you keep a record of your history as a reader." The Best American Poetry 2000 will surely hold a treasured place on the shelves of longtime poetry fans and those new to its joys.

Guest editor Rita Dove, one of the most prominent figures in the poetry world and the second African-American poet ever to win the Pulitzer Prize, brings all of her dynamism and well-honed acumen to bear on this project. Dove used a simple yet exacting method to make her selections: "The final criterion," she writes in her introduction, "was Emily Dickinson's famed description — if I felt that the top of my head had been taken off, the poem was in." The result is a marvelous collection of consistently high-quality poems diverse in form, tone, style, stance, and subject matter. Ranging from the traditional to the experimental, the volume embraces established masters such as Mary Oliver, Derek Walcott, and Richard Wilbur; contemporary crowd pleasers like Billy Collins, Yusef Komunyakaa, and Robert Pinsky; and a number of irresistible newcomers. It is a gathering that will bring readers to what Dove calls "the still center of being that good poetry awakens." And, in a special feature marking the new millennium, the series' current and past editors have nominated their candidates for the Best American Poems of the Twentieth Century, helping to make The Best American Poetry 2000 this year's must-have book for all poetry lovers.

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