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This review is taken from PN Review 131, Volume 26 Number 3, January - February 2000.

NOT WITH A BANG ROBERT BLY, guest editor, and David Lehman, series editor, The Best American Poetry 1999 (Scribner Poetry) $16.00

Elizabeth Bishop's 'Foreign-Domestic' is a selection by Robert Bly for The Best American Poetry 1999 . 'Foreign-Domestic' was found in the author's papers at Vassar College Library and since Bishop did not publish it during her lifetime I can only surmise, given her reticence and the famous painstaking care with which she worked over her poems, that she would not be happy it has now been culled from her notebooks and printed. The problem of what to do with a writer's unpublished manuscripts seems to have been settled by the market, like most things in America. Archived manuscripts are being published regardless of the intentions of the (conveniently) dead writer because there is always money to be made and cachet to be gained from name brand authors; the case of Hemingway's manuscripts is the most egregious but hardly the sole example of this archival mining. Even if we have to submit to this situation, it needs to be asked whether anthologies such as this one should indulge in posthumous publication. (Of course, it could be argued that many poems take a long time to write and sometimes even longer to get published so this volume really represents the state of writing at many points extending back into the past; in which case only someone like Borges could possibly do the editing.) Otherwise, as the poems of any major poet who left a substantial archive start to surface in the journals, we can expect future Best American Poetry volumes to ...


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