Guest Editor: ROBERT BLY

  This year's edition of The Best American Poetry will exceed the expectations of the many thousands of readers who eagerly await the annual arrival of this "truly memorable anthology" (Chicago Tribune). Guest editor Robert Bly, an award-winning poet and translator — famous, too for his leadership role in the men's movement and his bestselling book, Iron John — has made selections that present American poetry in all its dazzling originality, richness, and variety.

As the millennium draws to a close, series editor David Lehman observes that "poetry today occupies a more honored place in the national consciousness than it has known since the 1960s, which was the last time in America that poets acted the parts of heroes." Robert Bly continues The Best American Poetry tradition of poring through hundreds of literary magazines and journals in order to showcase these heroes and, at the same time, introduce readers to the many fresh new voices on the scene. Featured here are celebrated contemporary poets such as Billy Collins, Louise Glück, Donald Hall, Sharon Olds, and Yusef Komunyakaa, as well as newly discovered works from beloved poets Elizabeth Bishop and William Matthews. This year's poems are striking in their vibrancy; they all display the essential energy that Bly calls "heat," whether the heat of friendship, the heat of form, or the heat that results when a poet "brings the soul up close to the thing" he or she is contemplating. With comments from the poets elucidating their works, The Best American Poetry 1999 reflects the most exciting and memorable poetry being written at this historic moment in the American imagination.

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