Annal: 2010 National Book Award for Poetry

Results of the National Book Award in the year 2010.

Book:Lighthead: Poems

Lighthead: Poems

Terrance Hayes

From an award-winning poet, a new collection in which the political and the personal converge in innovative and beautiful ways.

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.

Book:By the Numbers: Poems and Aphorisms

By the Numbers: Poems and Aphorisms

James Richardson

For James Richardson, poetry is serious and speculative play for both intellect and imagination. By the Numbers is striking for its range of line and movement, for its microlyrics, crypto-quatrains, “ten-second essays,” and the twist and snap of aphorisms. Drawing from myriad fables—Ovidian, Shakespearean, georgic, and scientific—Richardson makes familiar scenes strange enough to provoke new and startling insights.

“Ten-second Essay #138”
Faces are motion, which is why all the photos of you are bad. Even the most natural-looking portrait is a sentence interrupted, one note of an aria, held. Though faces themselves hide a deeper motion. You seem to sit there and meet my eyes across the table, but you are so many other places, clinging here for a moment against all the currents that will soon sweep you onward. We are so moved by the faces caught in the windows of trains going the other way because they tell us how all faces really are.
Book:The Eternal City: Poems

The Eternal City: Poems

Kathleen Graber

Chosen by Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Paul Muldoon to relaunch the prestigious Princeton Series of Contemporary Poets under his editorship, The Eternal City revives Princeton’s tradition of publishing some of today’s best poetry.

With an epigraph from Freud comparing the mind to a landscape in which all that ever was still persists, The Eternal City offers eloquent testimony to the struggle to make sense of the present through conversation with the past. Questioning what it means to possess and to be possessed by objects and technologies, Kathleen Graber’s collection brings together the elevated and the quotidian to make neighbors of Marcus Aurelius, Klaus Kinski, Walter Benjamin, and Johnny Depp. Like Aeneas, who escapes Troy carrying his father on his back, the speaker of these intellectually and emotionally ambitious poems juggles the weight of private and public history as she is transformed from settled resident to pilgrim.

Book:Ignatz

Ignatz

Monica Youn

Ignatz Invoked
A gauze bandage wraps the land
and is unwound, stained orange with sulfates.
A series of slaps molds a mountain,
a fear uncoils itself, testing its long
cool limbs. A passing cloud
seizes up like a carburetor
and falls to earth, lies broken-…[more]
Book:One with Others

One with Others

C.D. Wright

Investigative journalism is the poet’s realm when C.D. Wright returns to her native Arkansas and examines an explosive incident from the Civil Rights movement. Wright interweaves oral histories, hymns, lists, newspaper accounts, and personal memories—especially those of her incandescent mentor, Mrs. Vititow—with the voices of witnesses, neighbors, police, activists, and black students who were rounded up and detained in an empty public swimming pool. This history leaps howling off the page.

I can walk down the highway unarmed
Scott Bond, born a slave, became
a millionaire. Wouldn’t you like to run wild.
Run free. The Very Reverend Al Green…[more]
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