nbapoets

It’s the third week of #NationalPoetryMonth and the first night of #Passover. To celebrate, we revisit our 1974 #NBAwards #Poetry Winners Adrienne Rich and Allen Ginsberg, two of modern America’s most revered #Jewish poets who coincidentally shared the #NBAward that year. Ginsberg’s acceptance speech was delivered by his partner Peter Orlovsky and its fiery polemics reinforced the political thematics of Ginsberg’s Award-Winning collection The Fall of America: “There is no longer any hope for the Salvation of America proclaimed by Jack Kerouac and others of our Beat Generation, aware and howling, weeping and singing Kaddish for the nation decades ago, ‘rejected yet confessing out the soul.’ All we have to work from now is the vast empty quiet space of our own Consciousness. AH! AH! AH!”

Adrienne Rich delivered her own manifesto to the Ceremony attendees when she took the stage with fellow Finalist Audre Lord and made the pronouncement: “We symbolically join together in refusing the terms of patriarchal competition and declaring that we will share this prize among us, to be used as best we can for women.“ On our blog dedicated to the Winners of the #NBAward for #Poetry, Evie Schockley observes that Rich’s poetry "reminds us that this care-full attention to craft was never in opposition to care-full attention to politics. The poet’s job is to see everything, if possible, and to use every tool at her disposal to record her observations. As she writes in From the Prison House: 'Underneath my lids another eye has opened / … / its intent is clarity / it must forget / nothing.’” #NBAPoets

In 1999, Ai Ogawa, whose first name means “love” in Japanese, became the first woman of color to win a National Book Award for #Poetry. Vice, Ai’s Award-Winning collection, tackled some of humanity’s most disturbing behaviors– from bigotry and prejudice to rape and murder. On our poetry blog, the poet Dilruba Ahmed writes: “Ai’s poems blur and complicate the boundaries between the culprit and the innocent, the culpable and the blameless.”

Mary Oliver won the 1992 #NBAward for #Poetry for New and Selected Poems, a collection that remains one of the best-selling volumes of poetry in the country today. On our blog dedicated to the Winners of the National Book Award for Poetry poet Kiki Petrosino writes that Oliver’s introspections concerning the natural world allow us “to understand nature as a passageway to a place enchanted by inquiry.” It is Oliver’s gift for the ecstatic, the intimate, and the revelatory that make Oliver’s solitary soliloquies universally loved. As when Oliver writes: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do / with your one wild and precious life?”

In 1952, Marianne Moore became the first woman to win the #NBAward for #Poetry. Moore’s Collected Poems, which also won the Pulitzer Prize, demonstrates her rightful place in the canon of modern poets. On our blog dedicated to the Winners of the #NBAward for #Poetry Lee Felice Pinkas writes that “Moore can create subject matter from anything… No creature is too small, no idea too insignificant for Moore to applaud or discover.” In her acceptance speech at the #NBAwards Ceremony, Moore obliquely acknowledged the skepticism that then greeted modernists’ willingness to break with poetry’s stylistic and formal conventions, saying, “I can see no reason for calling my work poetry except that there is no other category in which to put it. Anyone could do what I do, and I am the more grateful that those whose judgment I trust should regard it as poetry.”

Our last #poetrygram for #NationalPoetryMonth is dedicated to the late beloved #poet Lucille Clifton, who won the #NBAward in 2000 for her collection of #poems Blessing the Boats. Clifton’s poems drew from her personal experiences as an African-American woman who came of age in the era of Jim Crow segregation. On our blog dedicated to the Winners of the #NBAward for #Poetry, poet and BookUpNYC instructor John Murillo praises Clifton’s “terse, clipped lines” meant to– in Clifton’s words– “comfort the afflicted, and to afflict the comfortable.” Murillo writes: “She knew a thing or two about life and mortality, about this world and its cruelties, and she wrote from the heart of it. Here is a wisdom without pretense, a voice we can trust because we know she won’t lie about what she’s seen.”

“I live in music. It is where my poems begin,” said Terrance Hayes of his 2010 #NBAward-Winning #Poetry collection Lighthead. Jan Jelinek, Marvin Gaye, Fine Young Cannibals, Madlib, and even Orpheus, the mythic son of the Greek God Apollo, lend their artistic invention to Hayes’s daring rewiring of poetic form. On our blog dedicated to #NBAPoets, poet and critic Katie Peterson observes that Hayes’s “intense, unpredictable voice” pulls together these wide-ranging influences to pursue pressing concerns of a life lived, as Hayes writes, “out on a limb” and as well as how to survive when you’re “carrying the whimper/you can hear when the mouth is collapsed?” Hayes’s answer, Peterson writes, “is a poet’s answer: you fall in love with a word, you create a myth of heroism, you keep singing.” #NBAPoets #NBAwards #NationalPoetryMonth

Robert Penn Warren, who won the 1958 #NBAward for #Poetry, was also the nation’s first Poet Laureate, an annual appointment by the #Librarian of the U.S. Congress to raise appreciation of the writing and reading of #poetry. After receiving the #NBAward, Warren published an excerpt of his acceptance speech in the Saturday Review in an essay titled “Formula for a Poem.” Warren wrote: “Making a poem is, for the writer, a way of trying to understand experience…” On our blog dedicated to #NBAward-Winning Poets , author Kiki Petrosino writes that Warren’s #NBAward-Winning collection, Promises, “is a magnetic collection that shows us what can happen when a poet is minutely, joyfully attentive to subject. Indeed, Warren teaches us that issues of ‘what’ can be just as crucial as 'whom.’”

A handful of poets have been twice-honored with #NBAwards for Poetry, but Alan Dugan is the only poet to be honored for both his first and last collections of #poetry. His first collection, simply titled Poems, won the #NBAward for Poetry in 1962, as well as many other honors. His last collection, Poems Seven: New and Complete Poetry, published at age 78, won the #NBAward in 2001. Writing for our blog dedicated to the Winners of the #NBAward for Poetry, poet and critic Katie Peterson says Dugan’s poem are often described as “tough talking” and “urban.” But if Dugan’s poems are hard on others as well as himself ( “an aging phony, stale, woozy, and corrupt /from unattempted dreams and bad health habits.”), the pain is worth the pleasure. Dugan, says Peterson,“writes love poems where intimacy has all the brutality and wordlessness of animal instinct…His lines are tense and govern expectation by making you so pleasurably anxious you feel compelled to continue to read.”

Long before the publication of his New Age classic Iron John: A Book About Men, Robert Bly was a widely-acclaimed #poet and ardent anti-war activist. In 1966, Bly cofounded American Writers Against the Vietnam War and in #1968 Bly won the #NBAward for his #Poetry collection The Light Around the Body. The collection’s focus on that war and its attendant consequences was a extreme departure from Bly’s earlier pastoral efforts, observes poet and essayist Patrick Rosal writing for our blog dedicated to the Winners of the #NBAward for Poetry (bit.ly/NBAPoets) and expressed the poet’s “outrage (if not rancor) toward the patriarchy and materialistic culture of the time.” When Bly (pictured here with fellow Winner George F. Kennan) accepted his #NBAward, he raged from the podium at the illustrious audience gathered to celebrate: “What has the book industry done to end the war? Nothing. What have our universities done to end the war? Nothing. What have our museums, like the Metropolitan, done? Nothing. What has my own publisher, Harper & Row, done to help end the war? Nothing.”

Our youngest Winner of the #NBAward for #Poetry, Marilyn Hacker was only 33 years old when she received the Award in 1975 for her debut collection Presentation Piece. The #NBAwards Judges said Hacker’s craft was “the sharp cutting edge by which [she] transfigures the commonplace.” On our blog dedicated to the Winners of the #NBAward for Poetry, Megan Snyder-Camp writes: “Hacker’s structure and her engagement with the edges of formal limitations is also what her work is about– what drives the work is an urgency as sexual and vital as it is formal and precise.”

“I found myself turning over notions that have always been at the fore for romantic poets: the nature of beauty, the nature of the soul, how love exists in time,” says poet and memoirist Mark Doty of his 2008 #NBAward-Winning #Poetry collection Fire to Fire. On our blog dedicated to Winners of the #NBAward for #Poetry, poet KiKi Petrosino praises the collection’s “attentive, compelling lyric presence.” Doty’s verse, says Petrosino, “is awash in images that appeal to every bodily sense, and the accumulation of these images takes us on a rhapsodic journey.”