Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Poetry of the National Book Award Longlist 2013

I know the shortlist has already been chosen for the National Book Award, but I committed to reading the entire longlist, and read it I did!  I used the list-making powers of NaNoReadMo to finish up reading them, and I'm finally ready to discuss the poetry category as a whole.

I have taken the list from the National Book Award page and rearranged it.  You can view the shortlist, and eventually the winner (on November 20), back over on their website.

My picks to win (okay, there were two I truly loved. I'm not a judge; I don't have to choose!):

Lucie Brock-Broido, Stay, Illusion (Alfred A. Knopf) - read my review here

From "It was always autumn in the paraphernalia of my laudanums...." to her poem about wisteria, I was enchanted from cover to cover.  This is what I want in my poetry - resonance, fine craftsmanship, emotion, and beauty.

Roger Bonair-Agard, Bury My Clothes (Haymarket Books)  - read my review here

These poems made me wish I shared the poet's background so they could be claimed as my poems too.

Other favorites:

Matt Rasmussen, Black Aperture (Louisiana State University Press) - read my review here

A painful set of poems largely dealing with the poet's brother's suicide.  Grief, trying to find your way after loss, it's all here.  Not easy to read, but worth it.

Mary Szybist, Incarnadine: Poems (Graywolf Press) - read my review here

Martha Ronk, Transfer of Qualities (Omnidawn Publishing)- read my review here

Not-so favorites

Frank Bidart, Metaphysical Dog (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) - read my review here

I just couldn't connect with this one, made up of poems with a frequent theme of aging.

Andrei Codrescu, So Recently Rent a World, New and Selected Poems: 1968-2012 (Coffee House Press) - read my review here

Pretty scattered, very reaction-based, not a style I tend to like.

Brenda Hillman, Seasonal Works with Letters on Fire (Wesleyan University Press) - read my review here

An example of focusing more on the intricacies and less on communicating an idea.

Diane Raptosh, American Amnesiac (Etruscan Press) - read my review here

An interesting concept but not as connected to me as the reader.

Didn't finish:

Adrian Matejka, The Big Smoke (Penguin Poets/Penguin Group USA)

I know it is on the shortlist, but I couldn't find a way into the poems about the boxer Jack Johnson.

1 comment:

  1. Andrei Codrescu...I can never figure out how he's landed so well with the American literati.


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