Sunday, March 09, 2008

ELEGY Wins National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry

I've been on the road, so here come some brief posts to catch up. Reviews resume Monday.

The National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry winner for 2007 is ELEGY by Mary Jo Bang. The book speaks to the death of her son and Graywolf, its publisher, has the following to say about it:

ELEGY is a different kind of book for Mary Jo Bang, who wrote this collection while mourning the loss of her son. Ken Tucker writes for Entertainment Weekly, "Had the jacket not said Elegy chronicles the year following the death of her son, Bang's book would still move you for its grace, not its real-life poignancy." Chosen by Publishers Weekly and the St. Louis Post Dispatch as best books of 2007, this award further distinguishes ELEGY as one of the best books of 2007.

Jeff Shotts, poetry editor at Graywolf Press, was pleased to have two Graywolf poets nominated for the prestigious award, "To have two finalists for the National Book Critics Circle Award is a rare and wonderful achievement for Graywolf's poetry list. And then to have one of them win is thrilling. Mary Jo Bang's ELEGY is such a deserving winner. It is an extraordinary feat to present language that is authentic and challenging enough that it is up to the real sorrow it describes. We're gratified to have this kind of affirmation from the National Book Critics Circle for such a humane and important book as ELEGY."

Mary Jo Bang is the author of four previous books of poetry, including Louise in Love and The Eye Like a Strange Balloon. She lives in St. Louis, Missouri, where she is an associate professor of English and director of the creative Writing program at Washington University.

The National Book Critics Circle is a not-for-profit organization of book editors and critics with some 600 members nationwide. The organization was founded in 1974 to encourage and raise the quality of book criticism in all media and to create a way for critics to communicate with one another about their professional concerns (

Here are the other finalists:

Matthea Harvey, Modern Life
Michael O'Brien, Sleeping and Waking
Tom Pickard, The Ballad of Jamie Allan
Tadeusz Różewicz, New Poems, trans. by Bill Johnston

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