Thursday, November 20, 2008

Mark Doty wins the National Book Award

Last year I was literally on the edge of my seat waiting for the National Book Award results since Linda Gregerson was in the running (thus far the only person I have ever personally known who was up for such an award. I worked with her in the MFA program at UofM). This year, however, it kind of went by unnoticed. If it wasn't for an article in the New York Times I might have missed the results completely.

Still, I was glad to see Mark Doty win the 2008 National Book Award for Poetry for Fire to Fire: New and Collected Poems (2008 HarperCollins). Doty is a fantastic poet and a really nice guy. I had the good fortune of being able to interview him several years ago for Between The Lines (it's a gay paper. He's a gay poet. See? Makes perfect sense).

The other books in the running were:
Frank Bidart, Watching the Spring Festival (2008 Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
Reginald Gibbons, Creatures of a Day (2008 Louisiana State University Press)
Richard Howard, Without Saying (2008 Turtle Point Press)
Patricia Smith, Blood Dazzler (2008 Coffee House Press)

The only one of these poets I can say with any certainty I have ever read anything from is Frank Bidart, so I am curious to check out the others.

The poetry judges were Robert Pinsky (who has some good poems but wrote a book about prosody that I despise), Mary Jo Bang (whose poetry makes zero sense to me), Kimiko Hahn (who I have never heard of), Tony Hoagland (one of my favorites), and Marilyn Nelson (whose name rings a bell).

It's cool to see some small presses in the running, even if the cover of Blood Dazzler by Coffee House Press looks like it was originally designed for a self-published children's book about Creationism. Coffee House Press, by the way, also published my friend and colleague Raymond McDaniel's two books of poetry, Murder, A Violet and Saltwater Empire, the later of which I purchased and gave to said author to sign very shortly after it was published. That was over seven months ago. I still don't have the book. I've asked him about it, many times, and he claims that it's difficult to sign a book for someone he knows and likes, or something like that. If it's any easier for him, a signed check for $16 would work at this point, too. He wouldn't even have to write anything on the memo line if it's too much pressure.


Anonymous said...

Even in your bitterness, you are too good of a poet friend not to link to Ray's books.


Seth Boulton said...

OK, I just want to say that I looked all over your poet list and I'm not on it which means either you don't consider me a poet or you think I'm an awful poet and both of those answers however absurd are completely unforgiveable.

Just so you know, I've got my eye on you.