Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Catching Up with Anthologies: The Best British Poetry 2011

NB: In all the "catching up" entries, I have work in the publication.

Salt Publishing and Roddy Lumsden have come up with a British parallel to the well established Best American Poetry Series overseen by David Lehman. The first editor is Lumsden himself, to be followed by Sasha Dugdale next year. While the initial volume is a largely mainstream selection (with, strangely, not a prose poem in sight), it possesses greater energy and range than the annual Forward Book of Poetry, as evidenced in poems by Gillian Allnutt, Amy De'Ath, and Chris McCabe, among others.

The advantage of a single poet reading through a year's magazines for selections, over the Forward's approach of taking four selections from each magazine editor, manifests in the larger selection of younger and emerging poets therein. It's good, too, to see in the represented magazines a mix of the usual suspects (Poetry Review and Poetry London, but not, interestingly, TLS or LRB) and such internet journals as Ink, Sweat and Tears and Shadowtrain and more experimental journals like QUID and Shearsman. Part of the success of the American series has come from annual editors' choices seemingly pushing beyond personal taste, in an attempt to recognise the best work whatever the style; that range in choice of editors and work selected will need to increase as the series goes on for it to distinguish itself from the Forward. Here's hoping!

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