Annal: 2000 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Poetry

Results of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in the year 2000.

Book:The Throne of Labdacus

The Throne of Labdacus

Gjertrud Schnackenberg

A compelling, lyric telling of the story of Oedipus and of “what happens outside the play,” through the experience of the god who is its presiding oracle: Apollo, the god of poetry, music, and healing. Given the task of setting the Sophocles text to music, the god is woven reluctantly into its world of riddles, unanswered questions, partially disclosed objects, and ambiguous secondhand reports-a world where the gods, as much as humans, are subject to the binding claims of fate and necessity.

Book:The Ledge

The Ledge

Michael Collier

A new collection of poetry by the director of the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, which celebrates its seventy-fifth anniversary in 2000. “Dark splendor” are the words Edward Hirsch uses to describe the poems of the award-winning author Michael Collier. Collier’s new work balances on the ledge between the everyday and the unknown, revealing the hidden depths of relationships. The poems in The Ledge are narrative and colloquial, musical and crystalline, at once intimate and sharp-edged. They render the world beautifully mysterious as they slide into unexpected emotional territory. A son loses his father’s favorite hammer, and with it his trust. In “The Wave,” the enthusiastic crowd at a baseball game rises and sits in frightening unison, belying their hopeful cheering. In “Fathom and League,” a dive two miles deep in the Pacific reveals the submerged volcanoes of the ocean and the soul. In many of the poems, the familiar animal world - of dogs and sparrows and possums in the yard - transfigures…[more]

Book:Men in the Off Hours

Men in the Off Hours

Anne Carson

Following her widely acclaimed Autobiography of Red (“A spellbinding achievement” —Susan Sontag), a new collection of poetry and prose that displays Anne Carson’s signature mixture of opposites—the classic and the modern, cinema and print, narrative and verse.

In Men in the Off Hours, Carson reinvents figures as diverse as Oedipus, Emily Dickinson, and Audubon. She views the writings of Sappho, St. Augustine, and Catullus through a modern lens. She sets up startling juxtapositions (Lazarus among video paraphernalia; Virginia Woolf and Thucydides discussing war). And in a final prose poem, she meditates on the recent death of her mother.

With its quiet, acute spirituality, its fearless wit and sensuality, and its joyful understanding that “the fact of the matter for humans is imperfection,” Men in the Off Hours shows us “the most exciting poet writing in English today” (Michael Ondaatje) at her best.

Book:Pastoral

Pastoral

Carl Phillips

In his newest book, National Book Award finalist Carl Phillips creates a shadowy inner landscape where the field is the heart, and the heart itself has a beautifully, often treacherously flawed darkness that each of us seeks to penetrate, believing in the possibility of light. Examining how to fill and fulfill the life granted us—how to realize the self entirely, and in time—these rhythmically sequenced meditations circle the predicaments of our longing against the backdrop of pastoral tradition. How do we balance control and abandonment when making poetry, as well as in making a life with another person? How do we reconcile fleshly desire and spiritual intention? Tightly coherent, emotionally nuanced, Pastoral both enlarges and defines Phillips’s already impressive poetic territory.

Book:Some Ether

Some Ether: Poems

Nick Flynn

Some Ether is one of the more remarkable debut collections of poetry to appear in America in recent memory. As Mark Doty has noted, “these poems are more than testimony; in lyrics of ringing clarity and strange precision, Flynn conjures a will to survive, the buoyant motion toward love which is sometimes all that saves us. Some Ether resonates in the imagination long after the final poem; this is a startling, moving debut.”

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