Honor roll: Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award

Each of these books has been nominated for a Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. They are ranked by honors received.

Book:Neon Vernacular

Neon Vernacular: New and Selected Poems

Yusef Komunyakaa

A collection of poems from the author’s earlier books combined with a dozen new poems interweave memory and history.

Book:Middle Earth

Middle Earth: Poems

Henri Cole

In his fifth collection of verse, Henri Cole’s melodious lines are written in an open style that is both erotic and visionary. Few poets so thrillingly portray the physical world, or man’s creaturely self, or the cycling strain of desire and self-reproach. Few poets so movingly evoke the human quest of “a man alone,” trying “to say something true that has body, / because it is proof of his existence.” Middle Earth is a revelatory collection, the finest work yet from an author of poems that are “marvels—unbuttoned, riveting, dramatic—burned into being” (Tina Barr, Boston Review).

Book:Chronic: Poems

Chronic: Poems

D.A. Powell

The first poetry collection by D. A. Powell since his remarkable trilogy of Tea, Lunch, and Cocktails, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.

so many of the best days seem minor forms of nearness
that easily falls among the dropseed: a rind, a left-behind
—from “no picnic”

In these brilliant new poems from one of contemporary poetry’s most intriguing, singular voices, D. A. Powell strikes out for the farther territories of love and comes back from those fields with loss, with flowers faded, “blossom blast and dieback.” Chronic describes the flutter and cruelty of erotic encounter, temptation, and bitter heartsickness, but with Powell’s deep lyric beauty and his own brand of dark wit.

Book:Modern Life

Modern Life: Poems

Matthea Harvey

Matthea Harvey’s Modern Life introduces a new voice that tries to exist in the gray area between good and evil, love and hate. In the central sequences, “The Future of Terror” and “The Terror of the Future,” Harvey imagines citizens and soldiers at the end of their wits at the impending end of the world. Her prose pieces and lyrics examine the divided, halved self in poems about centaurs, ship figureheads, and a robot boy. Throughout, Harvey’s signature wit and concision show us the double-sided nature of reality, of what we see and what we know.

Book:Salvation Blues: One Hundred Poems

Salvation Blues: One Hundred Poems, 1985-2005

Rodney Jones

Rodney Jones has been called “the supreme example of the southern human person speaking in American poetry” (Southern Review). Salvation Blues traces the career of this popular narrative poet through one hundred choice poems, including twenty-four new pieces. In the tradition of William Faulkner and Sherwood Anderson, Jones conjures an America that betrays stereotyping. There is no subject that he will not touch, and in his detailed vision of his Alabama childhood, he ennobles a misunderstood community. Playing the tension between history and modernity, his poems arise where, as James Dickey put it, “the agrarian and industrial civilizations stand face to face, equally bewildered.”

Book:Luck Is Luck

Luck Is Luck: Poems

Lucia Perillo

From the snowy egret to a woman’s floating rib, nudism in America to Holy Communion, Simone de Beauvoir to Nathan’s hot dogs–the subjects in Lucia Perillo’s fourth collection of poetry lift off from surprising places and touch down on new ground. Hers is a vision like no other. In “To My Big Nose,” she muses: “hard to imagine what the world would have looked like / if not seen through your pink shadow. / You who are built from random parts / like a mythical creature—a gryphon or sphinx.”

Fearless, focused, ironic, irreverent, truly and deeply felt, the poems in Luck Is Luck draw upon the circumstances of being a woman, the harsh realities of nature, the comfort of familiar things, and universally recognizable anxieties about faith and grief, love and desire. In “Languedoc,” she writes, “Long ago / I might have been attracted by your tights and pantaloons / but now they just look silly, ditto for your instrument / that looks like a gourd with strings attached / (the problem…[more]

Book:New and Selected Poems (Michael Ryan)

New and Selected Poems

Michael Ryan

Michael Ryan's New and Selected Poems is the first collection to appear in fifteen years from this acclaimed and masterly poet. Comprising fifty-seven poems from three award-winning volumes and thirty-one brilliant new poems, it displays the wit and passion he has brought to universal themes throughout his career. In both dramatic lyrics and complex narratives, Ryan renders the world with startling clarity, freshness, and intimacy.

Ryan”s poems are filled with the stuff of everyday life: What-a-Burger, Space Invaders, “the hood ornament / on some chopped down hot rod of the apocalypse.” He observes his subjects in carefully wrought detail and with a fierce compassion, describing “stupid posters of rock stars” in the bedroom of a murdered teenager, or a homeless boy “straggle-haired, bloated, / eyes shining like ice.” As Ryan writes of others, in a final “Reminder” to himself: “their light—their light—/ pulls…[more]

Book:The Art of the Lathe

The Art of the Lathe: Poems

B.H. Fairchild

B.H. Fairchild’s The Art of the Lathe is a collection of poems covering a wide range of subjects, though it centers on the working-class world of the midwest, the isolations of small-town life, and the possibilities and occasions of beauty and grace among the machine shops and oil fields of rural Kansas.

Book:Split Horizon

Split Horizon: Poems

Thomas Lux

Thomas Lux is the author of such books as Sunday, Half Promised Land, and The Drowned River. His poetry has been steadily growing and penetrating deeper into the plain-spoken, saturnine, witty language that he virtually invented. In his latest work, Lux’s level gaze, cool talk, weird rhythms, and quirky humor place him in a special territory—entirely original—of contemporary American poetry. These new poems, like the book itself, have unusual titles (“Loudmouth Soup,” “Virgule,” “Each Startled Touch Returns the Touch Unstartled”) and circle around their subjects in strange ways, most often dealing with the lonely oddity of the individual in a society that inflexibly ignores individuality.

Book:Rapture (Susan Mitchell)

Rapture: Poems

Susan Mitchell

Rapture is the newest collection from a remarkable voice in American poetry. Susan Mitchell’s poems are about self-discovery, and how memory and experience blend to lead us to newer, more realized and complex selves. Mitchell’s gift is her ability to see, with humor and acuity, the extraordinary within the commonplace. Whether listening to a jazz pianist reaching for new sounds as he lingers over a hotel piano or recalling a runaway child on a bus trip across America, Mitchell guides us into a world of her narratives, a world in which she creates her reality by the mere act of observing it, and this reality, at once wholly unique and deeply familiar, has an exhilarating capacity for transcendence. Combining a boldly realistic vision with graceful, evocative lyricism, and moving easily between free verse and elegant versification, Rapture confirms Mitchell’s place as one of the most compelling poets writing today.

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