An idea circulates that American poetry may be less concerned with form than its British counterpart (see the debate in New British Poetry, ed. Simic & Paterson, Graywolf Press, Minnesota, 2004, pp. xxi & xxiii). I would suggest that in the context of BAP this observation isn’t entirely true, unless there’s a tacit understanding that “form” is defined only in its narrowest sense of fixed, “traditional” forms (ones that perhaps use regular rhyme and metre). I’d suggest BAP is deeply concerned with form in its most long-standing sense – pattern, repetition / variation, shape – in ways that would be very familiar to readers of mainstream British poetry. Perhaps the difference is that the various poems presented in BAP 2010 are more formally wide-ranging and bold than we often find side by side in mainstream British poetry (without being unapproachable - only two or three poems in BAP are extremely “avant-garde”).
With each annual anthology of this kind, it is surely more than a purely competitive “Best Of” element which seduces us. It is the sense of comprehensiveness, that this process has required exhaustive research. When I read through a newspaper’s end of year “Best gadgets of 2010” I want someone else to have put some hours in, enduring the hard labour, so I can put my feet up for the weekend, lounge back like a true Poetry Royal and enjoy the pick of the poetry-caviar being spooned ceaselessly into my mouth.