Better Living Through Poetry

Three Poetry Books from Local Presses Made the National Book Awards Longlist

Jericho Brown's The Tradition, Arthur Sze's Sight Lines, and Mary Ruefle's Dunce are all up for the honor.

By Stefan Milne September 18, 2019

The longlist for the National Book Award for Poetry dropped today with a decent splash (one of Elizabeth Warren's staffers, Camonghne Felix, got a nod). Of the 10 titles, three came from local poetry presses. Jericho Brown's The Tradition, released by Port Townsend's Copper Canyon Press, interrogates this country's history of evil using a new poetic form, "the duplex." Brown says he got there by "gutting the sonnet." Also from Copper Canyon: Arthur Sze's Sight Lines, which takes on ranging subjects (who ever read a poem about Thomas Jefferson arranging dinosaur bones in the White House?) with layered, allusive writing. 

Mary Ruefle's Dunce comes from Seattle's Wave Books, which also published the 2017 Pulitzer Prize winner Olio, by Tyehimba Jess. On November 21—the day after the National Book Awards ceremony—Ruefle heads to Broadway Performance Hall for a Seattle Arts and Lectures talk. According to a New York Times review published today Dunce, Ruefle's 12th collection, "confronts the extraordinary yet banal fact that all of us die."

Here's the complete list.

Show Comments