The Pushcart Prize VI: Best of the Small Presses, edited by Bill Henderson. Wainscott, N.Y.: Avon Books. 539 pp. $9.95.
During the brief but distinguished lifetime of the ''Pushcart Prize'' anthologies, founder and editor Bill Henderson has emphasized not just the remarkable quality of poetry and prose appearing in small-press publications but the need for all of us to help support these enterprises and these writers.This time around there is some exceptional poetry, good work from veteran writers, lively political poems, and promising contributions from new writers. The essays , by comparison, are disappointing.The very best selections are Joseph Brodsky's poem ''Lagoon''; Raymond Carver's skillful story ''What We Talk About When We Talk About Love''; David Hellerstein's ironic and compassionate piece, ''Death in the Glitter Palace''; and Gayle Baney Whittier's brilliant Lawrencian story, ''Lost Time Accident.''