Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Introduction to the Best Words from the Short Biographies of Poets in "The Best American Poetry 2013"

These best words, taken from the biographies of poets in this year's Best American Poetry volume, were selected by a panel of linguists and crossword puzzle dignitaries from across the nation, and in two cases, (Senegal and Norway) overseas. Meetings, taking place over a contentious three days in Iowa City, only nearly avoided violence--the verb advocates were adamant in their ongoing quest for better representation, while the noun contingent, as usual, argued for the primacy of persons, places, and things. Thankfully, the question of whether or not any one biographical note may contribute more than one word to our annual list seems to at last be laid to rest. A rare majority opinion of the delegates decided once and for all that one word and one word only may be selected from any contributor's biography, no matter how worthy and attention-getting accompanying words in the note might be.

Any such list, is, at its heart, a tad arbitrary. Nonetheless, the panelists feel we've been able to latch on to an acre of the  national poetic landscape, reflecting the varied and various responses of poets who have been asked to describe their own works. Interestingly enough, this is the first year that two words beginning with the prefix "un" have made the list, and they happen to appear side by side. This is also the fourth year in the past five that the word grandmother has been so honored.

The editors wish to thank the National Endowment for Noun Appreciation, the Smitherton and Aptly Adverb Coalition, and the Society of Thesauri Development for their on-going and much-needed support. Special thanks and recognition are due to Thaddeus (last name Jones?) the bartender at the Deadwood Tavern, for his fortitude and patience as we work out some form of payment plan that does not involve the authorities. The check is not yet in the mail, but we expect to hear back from the fine folks at the Guggenheim Foundation any day now, at which time a final settling of accounts can be made.

Without further ado, the list:

magpies.  soldier.  echo.  enlightenment.  collections.  nagging.  violence.  faceless.  risk.  

accumulation.  enemies.  leaven.  numbered.  grace.  compost.  confusion.  skipped.  prissy.  born.

loneliness.  dopplegangers.  tonic.  pagan.  numerous.  hiding.  residencies.  puberty.  dire.

flight.  laugh.  sisters.  elopement.  secret.  voyage.  bedrooms.  luck.  impossible.  glamour.

ladder.  hurt.  proximity.  horse.  code.  craving.  crime.  decipher.  birdbath.  baffles.  rapidly.

sheep.  doorframe.  sacrament.  speaker.  therefore.  absence.  suitor.  meander.  castaway.

taverns.  openness.  choose.  grandmother.  road.  everywhere.  seduction.  bedtime.  suffering.  

mortal.  concrete.  unfolding.  uncomfortable.  betrothal.   grateful.

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