Publishers Weekly, 2005-07-25 This extraordinarily popular series enters its 18th year with a strong, entertaining, accessible effort; Muldoon (Hay, Madoc, etc.) avoids polemics and lets readers focus on poems. Elder statesmen and big names put in expected appearances, some of them (A.R. Ammons, Donald Justice, Charles Bukowski) with posthumously published verse. John Ashbery's splendid "In Dearest, Deepest Winter" shows him attending to life after 9/11; Lyn Hejinian's contribution (excerpted from a book-length poem) attends to the vagaries of the inner life. Selections from less well-known writers favor clarity, technique, and humor, or at least wry irony: Victoria Chang describes "Seven Changs" who share her name; Marlys West's "Ballad of the Subcontractor" describes "the workers who deserted" her building, and the debate champion who irritated her in high school, "like a star quarterback but/ Smaller, brighter." Stacey Harwood assembles a clever prose poem out of nine (fake) "Contributors' Notes." The light touch, formal intricacy and attention to whimsy that have helped earn Muldoon international fame are all in evidence here; it makes for a cohesive collection, open to all the usual arguments about what's really "best"Aalso always part of the fun. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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