Personal Best: Makers on Their Poems That Matter Most is home to fifty-seven author-selected poems and accompanying essays that explain how and why each poet chose a poem as their “personal best.” The anthology offers a provocative and surprising range of responses in which readers will find poetic context for the life of a poem and revelatory insight into the unique, personal experiences that shape the writing process itself. Including works from a wide variety of voices both new and well-established, Personal Best is a far-reaching, essential touchstone for the art of poetry in the United States today. The anthology gives readers—both longtime fans of poetry and those just discovering its possibilities—an intimate view of the heart and spirit that make poetry one of our most quintessentially human forms of expression.
“Scheduled to publish in late October, this anthology from Copper Canyon Press sits in my book stack on the breakfast bar, screaming my name. It marries many of my bookish passions: poetry, prose by poets, and craft essays. Highlighting writers I admire like Kaveh Akbar, Victoria Chang, Tarfia Faizullah, Donika Kelly, Ada Limón, Airea D. Matthews, Jake Skeets, Danez Smith, and Ocean Vuong, I can’t wait to inhale this cover to cover and learn which works poets consider their personal best.” —Connie Pan, Book Riot
“For this lively and engaging anthology, fifty-seven poets, including Kaveh Akbar, Diane Seuss, Solmaz Sharif, and Ocean Vuong, choose one of their own poems and explain in an essay why it represents their ‘personal best.’ Together the poem-essay pairings provide an insightful look at the life of a poem and the personal experiences that shape the writing process.”—Poets & Writers
“Including a remarkable and diverse array of contemporary poets, Phillips and Belieu assemble a collection of singular poems, each selected by its poet and accompanied by an explication of how it came to be written, illuminating the choices that make each poem sing. With poems by Danez Smith, Ada Limón, Ocean Vuong, Yusef Komunyakaa, Ilya Kaminsky and many more, it was a welcome gift to reencounter poems I knew in fresh contexts, and it was equally enjoyable to explore poems new to me.”—Freya Sachs, BookPage, STARRED REVIEW
“Belieu and Phillips have put a finger to the pulse of American poetry with this anthology; they have demonstrated the importance of encountering poets in real time. Personal Best rejects the trend of venerating poets posthumously, centering the real and sometimes urgent motivations that drive some of the best authors of our generation. There’s something for everyone in this anthology, and I suspect that most readers will encounter at least a handful of poets who are new to them, and what a wonderful way to meet them.”—The Poetry Question