It was only at the very end of the evening, when Robert Bly read a poem by his longtime friend Tomas Tranströmer, that he grew animated, his voice dipping and swaying, gaining in power. He crisply enunciated the words, added that famous little Bly twist, and looked straight out at the crowd.
The names of the judges for this year's National Book Awards were announced this morning, and included in the stellar group are Minnesota writer Charles Baxter and Graywolf Press poet D.A. Powell.
Baxter, author of "The Feast of Love," a finalist for the 2000 National Book Award, is the Edelstein-Keller Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Minnesota. His most recent book is "Gryphon," a collection of short stories.
He will be joined as fiction judge with novelist Gish Jen ("Typical American"), Rene Steinke, a 2005 National Book Award Finalist for "Holy Skirts," and -- for the first time in many years -- two people who are not authors, Charles McGrath, fromer editor of the New York Times Book Review, and Rick Simonson, a bookseller at Elliott Bay Book Company in Seattle.
Judges for nonfiction are Jabari Asim, Andre Bernard, M.G. Lord, Lauren Redniss, and Eric Sundquist.
Poetry judges are Nikky Finney, author of "Head Off & Split," which won the 2011 National Book Award; Ada Limon, Graywolf Press poet D.A. Powell, who won a 2013 National Book Critics Circle Award for "Useless Landscape: Or, A Guide for Boys"; Jahan Ramazani, and Craig Morgan Teicher, author of "Cradle Book."
Young people's literature will be judged by Deb Caletti, Cecil Castellucci, Peter Glassman, E. Lockhart, and Lisa Von Drasekis.
The awards will be announced in New York City on Nov. 20.
The American Academy of Arts and Letters issued its annual honors and awards today, and there are so many familiar names on the list--Katherine Boo. (Is there nothing she hasn't won?) Kevin Powers, for "The Yellow Birds." Short story writer Lydia Davis. Graywolf Press poet D.A. Powell (ditto him).
And Macalester visiting instructor Peter Bognanni, author of "House of Tomorrow," (a finalist for a Minnesota Book Award, and winner of the Los Angeles Times First Novel Award and an ALA Alex Award), has won one of two Rome Prize fellowships.
The Rome Prize is a one-year residency at the American Academy in Rome. Bognanni is a native of Iowa and a graduate of the Iowa Writers Workshop.
And here's the full list of the American Academy awards:
Arts and Letters Awards in Literature: Katherine Boo, Joanna Klink, Neil LaBute, Bill McKibben, Bruce Norris, Darryl Pinckney, D.A. Powell, and Brad Watson.
Benjamin H. Danks award, $20,000 for an exceptional playwright: Amy Herzog.
E.M. Forster Award, $20,000 to a young writer from the U.K. or Ireland to stay in the U.S.: Adam Foulds.
Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction: Kevin Powers.
Award of Merit Medal: $10,00 for outstanding short story writing: Lydia Davis.
Addison M. Metcalf Award, $10,000 for a young writer: Mischa Berlinski.
Rome Fellowships: Peter Bognanni and Peter Streckfus
Rosenthal Family Foundation award, $10,000 to a young writer for work published in 2012: Claire Vaye Watkins.
John Updike Aard, $20,000 for mid-career writer of excellence: Jennifer Egan.
Harold D. Vursell Memorial Award, $10,000: Christopher Benfey
E.B. White Award, $10,000 for children's literature: Natalie Babbitt.
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