In a move likely intended to shore up interest and sales—the apparent aim of its new nominating process—the National Book Foundation has taken to The Daily Beast to reveal the longlist for its poetry award. This comes one day after the Young People's Literature longlist. Here, take a look.
Whether or not he takes home the prize, nominee Andrei Codrescu seems to be the winner in the as-yet-nonexistent Renaissance Man category. As the Associated Press notes, the Romanian-born writer is already an acclaimed novelist, screenwriter, and NPR personality, not to mention the 35 or so books to his name. Now his poetry is drawing accolades. (His latest book, So Recently Rent a World, collects more than 40 years' worth of poems.)
But, of course, there are nine more up against Codrescu. They include, most formidably, Frank Bidart, a three-time NBA finalist and 2009 Pulitzer Prize finalist. The rest of the bunch are mostly first-time nominees; they are, in alphabetical order, Roger Bonair-Agard, Lucie Brock-Broido, Brenda Hillman, Adrian Matejka, Diane Raptosh, Matt Rasmussen, Martha Ronk, and Mary Szybist. As The Washington Post notes:
Although the list includes a number of accomplished poets, few are so well known outside the poetry world as Codrescu. Indeed, the foundation observed that “nine of the 10 authors are receiving National Book Award recognition for the first time.”
Such picks could ruffle feathers in the publishing world, where, as we noted yesterday, some bigwigs reportedly resent the organization for "overlooking such high-profile books as Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom in favor of more obscure releases."Or, perhaps, it could drawn national attention to some genuinely outstanding poets.
Why not both?