Annal: 1998 National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry

Results of the National Book Critics Circle Award in the year 1998.

Book:The Bird Catcher

The Bird Catcher: Poems

Marie Ponsot

In 1998, Marie Ponsot was awarded the National Book Critics Circle Award for poetry, confirming the praise that has been bestowed on her by critics and peers—among them Eavan Boland and Carolyn Kizer (who are quoted on the back of the book jacket) and Amy Clampitt, who had this to say of Ponsot’s last book: “She is marvelously attuned to the visual and to the audible. She is no less precisely a geographer of the interior life, above all the experience of being a woman.”

Book:Autobiography of Red

Autobiography of Red: A Novel in Verse

Anne Carson

In her first novel in verse, Anne Carson bridges the gap between classicism and the modern, poetry and prose, with a volcanic journey into the soul of a winged red monster named Geryon.

There is a strong mixture of whimsy and sadness in Geryon’s story. He is tormented as a boy by his brother, escapes to a parallel world of photography, and falls in love with Herakles—a golden young man who leaves Geryon at the peak of infatuation. Geryon retreats ever further into the world created by his camera, until that glass house is suddenly and irrevocably shattered by Herakles’ return. Running throughout is Geryon’s fascination with his wings, the color red, and the fantastic accident of who he is.

Autobiography of Red is a deceptively simple narrative layered with currents of meaning, emotion, and the truth about what it’s like to be red. It is a powerful and unsettling story that moves, disturbs, and delights.

Book:Last Chance for the Tarzan Holler

Last Chance for the Tarzan Holler: Poems

Thylias Moss

The latest volume of this dazzling poet’s work, urgent poems in which words, images, ideas, music, and feelings are pushed to their ultimate capacity. Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; a Village Voice Favorite Book of 1998. The latest volume of this important and highly original poet’s work is a three-part journey into the pathology of human emotions. In a cascade of language-ordinary speech, preaching, song, banter, erudition—all that is good spirals into regions of horror and grotesque inconsistency with consequences as contemporary as headlines and as eternal as myth. Intense and brilliantly sustained, these poems limn the humane being tested, the plunge into strangeness, and finally recovery, the salvaging of wonder after all.

Book:Self-Evidence

Self-Evidence: New and Selected Poems

Pamela White Hadas

Pamela White Hadas has now selected the best of her published work and combined it with poems never before collected. Self-Evidence contains legendary, mythic, historical, and imaginary characters—Lilith, Pocahontas, Simone Weil, the wives of Watergate, a circus performer, and others. With playful originality and virtuoso voicing, Hadas weaves tapestries of women’s loves and labors. Perhaps uniquely in our time, she contrasts a spareness of autobiographical detail with an unusual intimacy of tone. Hadas’s literary inventiveness is far-ranging, entertaining, and eclectic—an artistic accomplishment Howard Nemerov called “odd, quirky, humorous and exact.”

Book:Thieves of Paradise

Thieves of Paradise

Yusef Komunyakaa

The collection centers on the disorienting experiences of the returning soldier, experiences that reverberate through the “Quatrains for Ishi,” a personal address to the sole survivor of an ancient race, and “The Glass Ark,” a conversation between male and female paleontologists working in the glass observation room at La Brea Tar Pits.

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