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Editor's Note

This essay by Harold Bloom will appear as the introduction to The Best of the Best American Poetry, 1988-1997, published in April 1998 by Scribner. For the book, series editor David Lehman asked Bloom to choose seventy-five poems from the annual's first ten volumes--750 poems in all, selected by guest editors John Ashbery, Donald Hall, Jorie Graham, Mark Strand, Charles Simic, Louise Gluck, A. R. Ammons, Richard Howard, Adrienne Rich, and James Tate. Lehman explains in his preface to the book that "since poets had done the selecting for the individual volumes, I thought to entrust this new task to a critic--preferably a fearless and influential one, with strong opinions, sophisticated taste, and a passion for poetry that matches any poet's." As Bloom's essay shows, he rose to the challenge--taking the occasion to comment not only on his choices and omissions but to mount a spirited critique of contemporary poetry, criticism, and cultural sensibilities.

This essay is not the final word on the last ten years of American poetry, of course, nor the end of the debate in Boston Review: next time we will be publishing responses to Bloom's essay by, among others, Mark Doty, Ann Lauterbach, Rita Dove, J. D. McClatchy, Donald Revell, Heather McHugh, Thylias Moss, Reginald Shepherd, Carol Muske, Sven Birkerts, and Marjorie Perloff. Readers curious to see Bloom's picks are encouraged to read the collection; as a reference, we have also provided a full list of titles and authors here.

--Joshua Cohen
Editor-in-Chief


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