Monday, October 24, 2011

The Poetry Finalists of the National Book Award 2011


I finished my second read through of the poetry finalists for the National Book Award tonight.  
The list from the official site:
  • Nikky Finney, Head Off & Split
    (TriQuarterly, an imprint of Northwestern University Press)
  • Yusef Komunyakaa, The Chameleon Couch
    (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
  • Carl Phillips, Double Shadow
    (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
  • Adrienne Rich, Tonight No Poetry Will Serve: Poems 2007-2010
    (W.W. Norton & Company)
  • Bruce Smith, Devotions
    (University of Chicago Press)
More than any other genre, I struggle in pitting poetry against itself.  I think Nikky Finney will be the most memorable, but Adrienne Rich may end up with the award.  Still, this set of poetry by her is not my favorite.

Some poets use overarching concepts.  Bruce Smith wrote an entire book of devotions, and some are a great capture of a place.  Carl Phillips seems to have an imaginary friend, but it might just be his shadow.  My favorite poems of the lot are "Ode to the Guitar" by Yusef Komunyakaa, and "Cattails" by Nikky Finney.

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