Special Collections

National Book Award Winners - Poetry

Description: The National Book Awards are presented annually "to celebrate the best of American literature, to expand its audience, and to enhance the cultural value of good writing in America." Here we present the medal winners for Poetry. #award #adults


Showing 1 through 25 of 41 results
 

Half-Light: Collected Poems 1965-2016

by Frank Bidart

Gathered together, the poems of Frank Bidart perform one of the most remarkable transmutations of the body into language in contemporary literature. His pages represent the human voice in all its extreme registers, whether it’s that of the child-murderer Herbert White, the obsessive anorexic Ellen West, the tormented genius Vaslav Nijinsky, or the poet’s own.

Winner of the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry

Date Added: 02/12/2018


Year: 2017

The Performance Of Becoming Human

by Daniel Borzutzky

Following in the path of his acclaimed collections THE BOOK OF INTERFERING BODIES (Nightboat, 2011) and IN THE MURMURS OF THE ROTTEN CARCASS ECONOMY (Nightboat, 2015), Daniel Borzutzky returns to confront the various ways nation-states and their bureaucracies absorb and destroy communities and economies.

In THE PERFORMANCE OF BECOMING HUMAN, the bay of Valparaiso merges into the western shore of Lake Michigan, where Borzutzky continues his poetic investigation into the political and economic violence shared by Chicago and Chile, two places integral to his personal formation. To become human is to navigate borders, including the fuzzy borders of institutions, the economies of privatization, overdevelopment, and underdevelopment, under which humans endure state-sanctioned and systemic abuses in cities, villages, deserts.

National Book Award Winner

Date Added: 02/12/2018


Year: 2016

Voyage of the Sable Venus

by Robin Coste Lewis

A stunning poetry debut: this meditation on the black female figure throughout time introduces us to a brave and penetrating new voice.

Robin Coste Lewis’s electrifying collection is a triptych that begins and ends with lyric poems considering the roles desire and race play in the construction of the self. The central panel is the title poem, “Voyage of the Sable Venus,” a riveting narrative made up entirely of titles of artworks from ancient times to the present—titles that feature or in some way comment on the black female figure in Western art. Bracketed by Lewis’s autobiographical poems, “Voyage” is a tender and shocking study of the fragmentary mysteries of stereotype, as it juxtaposes our names for things with what we actually see and know. Offering a new understanding of biography and the self, this collection questions just where, historically, do ideas about the black female figure truly begin—five hundred years ago, five thousand, or even longer? And what role has art played in this ancient, often heinous story? From the “Young Black Female Carrying / a Perfume Vase” to a “Little Brown Girl / Girl Standing in a Tree / First Day of Voluntary / School Integration,” this poet adores her culture and the beauty to be found within it. Yet she is also a cultural critic alert to the nuances of race and desire and how they define us all, including herself, as she explores her own sometimes painful history. Lewis’s book is a thrilling aesthetic anthem to the complexity of race—a full embrace of its pleasure and horror, in equal parts.

Winner of the National Book Award

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 2015

Faithful And Virtuous Night

by Louise Glück

Winner of the 2014 National Book Award for Poetry

A luminous, seductive new collection from the “fearless” (The New York Times) Pulitzer Prize–winning poet

Louise Glück is one of the finest American poets at work today. Her Poems 1962–2012 was hailed as “a major event in this country’s literature” in the pages of The New York Times. Every new collection is at once a deepening and a revelation. Faithful and Virtuous Night is no exception.

You enter the world of this spellbinding book through one of its many dreamlike portals, and each time you enter it’s the same place but it has been arranged differently. You were a woman. You were a man. This is a story of adventure, an encounter with the unknown, a knight’s undaunted journey into the kingdom of death; this is a story of the world you’ve always known, that first primer where “on page three a dog appeared, on page five a ball” and every familiar facet has been made to shimmer like the contours of a dream, “the dog float[ing] into the sky to join the ball.” Faithful and Virtuous Night tells a single story but the parts are mutable, the great sweep of its narrative mysterious and fateful, heartbreaking and charged with wonder.

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 2014

Incarnadine

by Mary Szybist

In Incarnadine, Mary Szybist restlessly seeks out places where meaning might take on new color. One poem is presented as a diagrammed sentence. Another is an abecedarium made of lines of dialogue spoken by girls overheard while assembling a puzzle. Several poems arrive as a series of Annunciations, while others purport to give an update on Mary, who must finish the dishes before she will open herself to God. One poem appears on the page as spokes radiating from a wheel, or as a sunburst, or as the cycle around which all times and all tenses are alive in this moment. Szybist's formal innovations are matched by her musical lines, by her poetry's insistence on singing as a lure toward the unknowable. Inside these poems is a deep yearning-for love, motherhood, the will to see things as they are and to speak. Beautiful and inventive, Incarnadine is the new collection by one of America's most ambitious poets.

Winner of the 2013 National Book Award for Poetry

An NPR, Slate, Oregonian, Kansas City Star, Willamette Week, and Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year * Amazon's Best Book of the Year in Poetry 2013 *

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 2013

Bewilderment

by David Ferry

Winner of the 2012 National Book Award for Poetry.

To read David Ferry's Bewilderment is to be reminded that poetry of the highest order can be made by the subtlest of means. The passionate nature and originality of Ferry's prosodic daring works astonishing transformations that take your breath away. In poem after poem, his diction modulates beautifully between plainspoken high eloquence and colloquial vigor, making his distinctive speech one of the most interesting and ravishing achievements of the past half century. Ferry has fully realized both the potential for vocal expressiveness in his phrasing and the way his phrasing plays against--and with--his genius for metrical variation. His vocal phrasing thus becomes an amazingly flexible instrument of psychological and spiritual inquiry. Most poets write inside a very narrow range of experience and feeling, whether in free or metered verse. But Ferry's use of meter tends to enhance the colloquial nature of his writing, while giving him access to an immense variety of feeling. Sometimes that feeling is so powerful it's like witnessing a volcanologist taking measurements in the midst of an eruption.

Ferry's translations, meanwhile, are amazingly acclimated English poems. Once his voice takes hold of them they are as bred in the bone as all his other work. And the translations in this book are vitally related to the original poems around them.

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 2012

Head Off & Split

by Nikky Finney

Winner, 2011 National Book Award for Poetry

Winner, 2012 GLCS Award for Poetry

Winner, 2012 SIBA Book Award for Poetry

Nominee, 2012 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work in Poetry

The poems in Nikky Finney’s breathtaking new collection Head Off & Split sustain a sensitive and intense dialogue with emblematic figures and events in African American life: from civil rights matriarch Rosa Parks to former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, from a brazen girl strung out on lightning to a terrified woman abandoned on a rooftop during Hurricane Katrina. Finney’s poetic voice is defined by an intimacy that holds a soft yet exacting eye on the erotic, on uncanny political and family events, like her mother’s wedding waltz with South Carolina senator Strom Thurmond, and then again on the heartbreaking hilarity of an American president’s final State of the Union address.

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 2011

Lighthead

by Terrance Hayes

Winner of the 2010 National Book Award for Poetry

In his fourth collection, Terrance Hayes investigates how we construct experience. With one foot firmly grounded in the everyday and the other hovering in the air, his poems braid dream and reality into a poetry that is both dark and buoyant. Cultural icons as diverse as Fela Kuti, Harriet Tubman, and Wallace Stevens appear with meditations on desire and history. We see Hayes testing the line between story and song in a series of stunning poems inspired by the Pecha Kucha, a Japanese presenta­tion format. This innovative collection presents the light- headedness of a mind trying to pull against gravity and time. Fueled by an imagination that enlightens, delights, and ignites, Lighthead leaves us illuminated and scorched.

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 2010

Fire to Fire

by Mark Doty

Mark Doty's Fire to Fire collects the best of his seven books of poetry, along with a generous selection of new work. His signature style encompasses both the plainspoken and the artfully wrought, as one of contemporary American poetry's most lauded, recognizable voices speaks to the crises and possibilities of our time.

Winner of the National Book Award

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 2008

Time and Materials

by Robert Hass

The poems in Robert Hass's new collection-his first to appear in a decade-are grounded in the beauty and energy of the physical world, and in the bafflement of the present moment in American culture. This work is breathtakingly immediate, stylistically varied, redemptive, and wise.

His familiar landscapes are here—San Francisco, the Northern California coast, the Sierra high country—in addition to some of his oft-explored themes: art; the natural world; the nature of desire; the violence of history; the power and limits of language; and, as in his other books, domestic life and the conversation between men and women. New themes emerge as well, perhaps: the essence of memory and of time.

The works here look at paintings, at Gerhard Richter as well as Vermeer, and pay tribute to his particular literary masters, friend Czeslaw Milosz, the great Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer, Horace, Whitman, Stevens, Nietszche, and Lucretius. We are offered glimpses of a surpris­ingly green and vibrant twenty-first-century Berlin; of the demilitarized zone between the Koreas; of a Bangkok night, a Mexican desert, and an early summer morning in Paris, all brought into a vivid present and with a passionate meditation on what it is and has been to be alive. "It has always been Mr. Hass's aim," the New York Times Book Review wrote, "to get the whole man, head and heart and hands and every­thing else, into his poetry."

Winner of the 2007 National Book Award for Poetry, and the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 2007

Splay Anthem

by Nathaniel Mackey

In a stunning new collection of poems of transport and transcendence, African-American poet Nathaniel Mackey's "asthmatic song of aspiration" scuttles across cultures and histories from America to Andalucía, from Ethiopia to Vienna in a sexy, beautiful adaptive dance. Part antiphonal rant, part rhythmic whisper, Nathaniel Mackey's new collection of poems, Splay Anthem, takes the reader to uncharted poetic spaces. Divided into three sections "Braid," "Fray," and "Nub" (one referent Mackey notes in his stellar Introduction: "the imperial, flailing republic of Nub the United States has become, the shrunken place the earth has become, planet Nub") Splay Anthem weaves together two ongoing serial poems Mackey has been writing for over twenty years. In the cosmology of the Dogon of West Africa, the Andoumboulou are progenitor spirits, and the song of the Andoumboulou is a song addressed to the spirits, a funeral song, a song of rebirth. "Mu," too, splays with meaning: muni bird, Greek muthos, a Sun Ra tune, a continent once thought to have existed in the Pacific. With the vibrancy of a Miró painting, Mackey's poems trace the lost tribe of "we" through waking and dream time, through a multitude of geographies, cultures, histories, and musical traditions, as poetry here serves as the intersection of everything, myth's music, spirit lift.

Winner of the National Book Award

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 2006

Door in the Mountain

by Jean Valentine

Since the 1965 publication of her first book, Dream Barker, selected for the Yale Younger Poets Award, Jean Valentine has published eight collections of poetry to critical acclaim. Spare and intensely-felt, Valentine's poems present experience as only imperfectly graspable. This volume gathers together all of Valentine's published poems and includes a new collection, "Door in the Mountain."Valentine's poetry is as recognizable as the slant truth of a dream. She is a brave, unshirking poet who speaks with fire on the great subjects--love, and death, and the soul. Her images--strange, canny visions of the unknown self--clang with the authenticity of real experience. This is an urgent art that wants to heal what it touches, a poetry that wants to tell, intimately, the whole life.

Winner of the National Book Award

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 2004

The Singing

by C. K. Williams

New work from the Pulitzer Prize winning author of Repair.

Reality has put itself so solidly before me there's little need for mystery. Except for us, for how we take the world to us, and make it more, more than we are, more even than itself. --from "The World"

In his first volume since Repair, C. K. Williams treats the characteristic subjects of a poet's maturity--the loss of friends, the love of grandchildren, the receding memories of childhood, the baffling illogic of current events--with an intensity and drive that recall not only his recent work but also his early books, published forty years ago. He gazes at a Rembrandt self-portrait, and from it fashions a self-portrait of his own. He ponders an "anatomical effigy" at the Museum of Mankind, an in so doing "dissects" our common humanity. Stoking a fire at a house in the country, he recalls a friend who was burned horribly in war, and then turns, with eloquence and authority, to contemporary life during wartime, asking "how those with power over us can effect these things, by what cynical reasoning do they pardon themselves." The Singing is a direct and resonant book: touching, searching, heartfelt, permanent.

The Singing is the winner of the 2003 National Book Award for Poetry.

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 2003

In the Next Galaxy

by Ruth Stone

Ruth Stone writes with crackling intelligence from the vantage point of an aging and impoverished woman. Wise, sardonic, crafty, and misleadingly simple, Stone loves heavy themes but loathes heavy poems.

Winner of the National Book Award

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 2002

Poems Seven

by Carl Phillips and Alan Dugan

Poems Seven: New and Complete Poetry, the winner of the National Book Award, presents the life work of a giant of American letters, tracks a forty-year career of honest, tough artistry, and shows a man at nearly 80 years of age and still at the height of his poetic power. Dugan's new poems continue his career-long concerns with renewed vigor: the poet's insistence that art is a grounded practice threatened by pretension, the wry wit, the jibes at the academic and sententious, and the arresting observations on the quotidian battles of life. All the while he peppers his poems with humorous images of the grim and daunting topics of existential emptiness.

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 2001

Blessing the Boats

by Lucille Clifton

This long-awaited collection from one of the most distinguished poets working today includes new poems written during the past four years as well as generous selections from previous collections.

Winner of the National Book Award

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 2000

Vice

by Ai

Collected here are poems from Ai's previous five books--Cruelty, Killing Floor, Sin, Fate, and Greed--along with seventeen new poems. Employing her trademark ferocity, these new dramatic monologues continue to mine this award-winning poet's "often brilliant" (Chicago Tribune) vision.

Winner of the National Book Award

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 1999

Passing Through

by Stanley Kunitz

Stanley Kunitz, one of the masters of contemporary poetry, presents his ninth collection, gathering a rich selection of his work, including new poems that remind us of his prefatory statement: "Art is the chalice into which we pour the wine of transcendence." Nearly all the poems of Kunitz's later years, beginning with The Testing-Tree (1971), are included, and most of the poems in Passing Through are unavailable in any other edition.

In "Touch Me," the last poem in the collection, Kunitz propounds a question, "What makes the engine go?" and gives us his answer: "Desire, desire, desire." These poems fairly hum with the energy, the excitement, the ardor, that make Kunitz one of our most enduring and highly honored poets. In the words of Carolyn Forché, "he is a living treasure."

Winner of the National Book Award

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 1995

Worshipful Company of Fletchers

by James Tate

Masterfully drawing on a variety of voices and characters, James Tate joyfully offers his first book since winning the Pulitzer Prize in 1992 for his "Selected Poems."

Winner of the 1994 National Book Award for poetry.

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 1994

Garbage

by A. R. Ammons

A book-length poem, "Garbage" is an epic of ideas: all life -- not that of human beings alone, but every species -- is shown to be part of an ultimate reality. Eternity is here and now. The argument ranges widely with a wealth of images taken from science, and the world around us, the writing by turns impassioned and witty.

Winner of the National Book Award

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 1993

New and Selected Poems, Volume One

by Mary Oliver

When New and Selected Poems, Volume One was originally published in 1992, Mary Oliver was awarded the National Book Award. In the fourteen years since its initial appearance it has become one of the best-selling volumes of poetry in the country. This collection features thirty poems published only in this volume as well as selections from the poet's first eight books.

Mary Oliver's perceptive, brilliantly crafted poems about the natural landscape and the fundamental questions of life and death have won high praise from critics and readers alike. "Do you love this world?" she interrupts a poem about peonies to ask the reader. "Do you cherish your humble and silky life?" She makes us see the extraordinary in our everyday lives, how something as common as light can be "an invitation/to happiness,/and that happiness,/when it's done right,/is a kind of holiness,/palpable and redemptive." She illuminates how a near miss with an alligator can be the catalyst for seeing the world "as if for the second time/the way it really is." Oliver's passionate demonstrations of delight are powerful reminders of the bond between every individual, all living things, and the natural world.

Winner of the National Book Award

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 1992

What Work Is

by Philip Levine

"This collection amounts to a hymn of praise for all the workers of America. These proletarian heroes, with names like Lonnie, Loo, Sweet Pea, and Packy, work the furnaces, forges, slag heaps, assembly lines, and loading docks at places with unglamorous names like Brass Craft or Feinberg and Breslin's First-Rate Plumbing and Plating. Only Studs Terkel's Working approaches the pathos and beauty of this book. But Levine's characters are also significant for their inner lives, not merely their jobs. They are unusually artistic, living 'at the borders of dreams.' One reads The Tempest 'slowly to himself'; another ponders a diagonal chalk line drawn by his teacher to suggest a triangle, the roof of a barn, or the mysterious separation of 'the dark from the dark.' What Work Is ranks as a major work by a major poet . . . very accessible and utterly American in tone and language." --Daniel L. Guillory, Library Journal

Winner of the National Book Award in 1991

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 1991

Selected Poems

by Galway Kinnell

The poems include two of Kinnell's most frequently reprinted poems, "Saint Francis and the Sow" and "After Making Love We Hear Footsteps" Kinnell draws for his poetry from experiences living in Vermont and New York, as well as from teaching in France, Australia, Iran, and many colleges and universities in this country. Kinnell is now retired from his position as the director of the Creative Writing Program at New York University.

Winner of the National Book Award

Pulitzer Prize Winner

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 1983

Country Music

by David St. John and Charles Wright

Country Music is comprised of eighty-eight poems selected from Charles Wright's first four books published between 1970 and 1977.

From his first book, The Grave of the Right Hand, to the extraordinary China Trace, this selection of early works represents "Charles Wright's grand passions: his desire to reclaim and redeem a personal past, to make a reckoning with his present, and to conjure the terms by which we might face the future," writes David St. John in the forward. These poems, powerful and moving in their own right, lend richness and insight to Wright's recently collected later works. "In Country Music we see the same explosive imagery, the same dismantled and concentric (or parallel) narratives, the same resolutely spiritual concerns that have become so familiar to us in Wright's more recent poetry," writes St. John.

Co-winner of the 1983 National Book Award for Poetry

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 1983

The Need To Hold Still

by Lisel Mueller

Winner of the National Book Award for Poetry in 1981.

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 1981


Showing 1 through 25 of 41 results