Annal: 2013 National Book Award for Poetry

Results of the National Book Award in the year 2013.

Book:Incarnadine: Poems

Incarnadine: Poems

Mary Szybist

The anticipated second book by the poet Mary Szybist, author of Granted, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award

The troubadours
knew how to burn themselves through,
how to make themselves shrines to their own longing.
The spectacular was never behind them.
-from “The Troubadours etc.”

In Incarnadine, Mary Szybist restlessly seeks out places where meaning might take on new color. One poem is presented…[more]

Book:The Big Smoke

The Big Smoke: Poems

Adrian Matejka

From a prize-winning poet, a new collection that examines the myth and history of the prizefighter Jack Johnson

The legendary Jack Johnson (1878–1946) was a true American creation. The child of emancipated slaves, he overcame the violent segregationism of Jim Crow, challenging white boxers—and white America—to become the first African-American heavyweight world champion. The Big Smoke, Adrian Matejka’s third work of poetry, follows the fighter’s journey from poverty to the most coveted title in sports through the multi-layered voices of Johnson and the white women he brazenly loved. Matejka’s book is part historic reclamation and part interrogation of Johnson’s complicated legacy, one that often misremembers the magnetic man behind the myth.

Book:Black Aperture

Black Aperture: Poems

Matt Rasmussen

In his moving debut collection, Matt Rasmussen faces the tragedy of his brother’s suicide, refusing to focus on the expected pathos, blurring the edge between grief and humor. In Outgoing, the speaker erases his brother’s answering machine message to save his family from “the shame of dead you / answering calls.” In other poems, once-ordinary objects become dreamlike. A buried light bulb blooms downward, a “flower / of smoldering filaments”. A refrigerator holds an evening landscape, a “tinfoil lake”, “vegetables / dying in the crisper”. Destructive and redemptive, Black Aperture opens to the complicated entanglements of mourning: damage and healing, sorrow and laughter, and torment balanced with moments of relief.

Book:Metaphysical Dog: Poems

Metaphysical Dog: Poems

Frank Bidart

A vital, searching new collection from one of finest American poets at work today

In “Those Nights,” Frank Bidart writes: “We who could get / somewhere through / words through / sex could not.” Words and sex, art and flesh: In Metaphysical Dog, Bidart explores their nexus. The result stands among this deeply adventurous poet’s most powerful and achieved work, an emotionally naked, fearlessly candid journey through many of the central axes, the central conflicts, of his life, and ours.

Near the end of the book, Bidart writes:

In adolescence, you thought your work
ancient work: to decipher at last…[more]
Book:Stay, Illusion

Stay, Illusion: Poems

Lucie Brock-Broido

Stay, Illusion, the much-anticipated volume of poems by Lucie Brock-Broido, illuminates the broken but beautiful world she inhabits. Her poems are lit with magic and stark with truth: whether they speak from the imagined dwelling of her “Abandonarium,” or from habitats where animals are farmed and harmed “humanely,” or even from the surreal confines of death row, they find a voice like no other—dazzling, intimate, startling, heartbreaking.

Eddying between the theater of the lavish and the enigmatic, between the gaudy and the unadorned, Brock-Broido’s verse scours America for material to render unflinchingly the here and now. Grandeur devolves into a comic irony: “We have come to terms with our Self / Like a marmoset getting out of her Great Ape suit.” She dares the unexplained: “The wings were left ajar / At the altar where I’ve knelt all night, trembling, leaning, rough / As sugar raw, and sweet.” Each poem is a rebellious chain…[more]

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