What do the following poets have in common:
Maggie Anderson, Dorothy Barresi, Quan Berry, Jan Beatty, Robin Becker, Richard Blanco, Christopher Bursk, Anthony Butts, Lorna Dee Cervantes, Wanda Coleman, Billy Collins, Mark Cox, Jim Daniels, Chard DeNiord, Toi Derricotte, Denise Duhamel, Russell Edson, Lynn Emmanuel, Peter Everwine, Edward Field, Daisy Fried, Barbara Hamby, C.G. Hanzlicek, Bob Hickok, Grey Jacobik, Julia Kasdorf, Jesse Lee Kercheval, Etheridge Knight, Sanda Kohler, Ted Kooser, Larry Levis, Shara McCallum, Peter Meinke, Malena Morling, Kathleen Norris, Sharon Olds, Alicia Suskin Ostriker, Minnie Bruce Pratt, Paisley Rekdal, Muriel Rukeyser, Richard Shelton, Reginald Shepherd, Cathy Song, Virgil Suarez, Ronald Wallace, Afaa Michael Weaver, David Wojahn, and Dean Young.
If pretty early in reading the list you answered, “Well, one thing they have in common is that they’re all better poets than Bill Knott,” you’d be right.
They are all better poets than me, and if you don’t believe me, take the word of editor Ed Ochester, who put the poets listed above into his new anthology, “American Poetry Now / Pitt Poetry Series Anthology.”
To quote from the catalog, “American Poetry Now is a comprehensive collection of the best work from the renowned Pitt Poetry Series.”
The best work, mind you, not the worst. If Ochester was doing the worst, he would have reprinted poems from my Pitt book, “Poems 1960-1987” (published in 1989).
–from WHERE MODERN POETRY BEGAN AND OTHER PROSE CONJECTURES, by Bill Knott.