Wednesday, November 14, 2007

National Book Awards

The NBA winners have been announced.

In Young People's Literature: Sherman Alexie for The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (which I actually just bought and can't wait to read! I love a good YA novel now and then, and I really like Sherman Alexie's work)

In Poetry: Robert Hass for Time and Materials

In Non-Fiction: Tim Weiner for Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA

In Fiction: Denis Johnson for Tree of Smoke

I don't know why I found myself so interested in these awards; I don't know any of the nominees (well, I met Sherman Alexie for thirty seconds once, which hardly counts) and I haven't read most of the books. I guess a little part of me wants the writing life to be glamorous. Which it's never going to be. Maybe if you're Sherman Alexie or Robert Hass you get a little moment of glamor now and then (okay, if you're Sherman Rockstar Alexie maybe you get a little more than that). But for most of us, we're just thrilled on the odd occasion that we get an email from somebody saying hey, I liked your poem. I mean, when that happens? It makes my day. No, it makes my WEEK. Actually, I've had a couple of very nice compliments from poets I seriously admired (the kind you replay over and over in your mind for years), and I don't think any award could feel better than that.

I guess the moral of that story is, if you find poems that you like, drop a line to a poet now and then to let them know. Because you can't give out National Book Awards, but you can give out compliments -- and sometimes, it really matters to someone.


poet with a day job said...

here here! I totally agree about giving out praise when praise is due!

Collin said...

I haven't read the Haas collection. I'll get around to it eventually. One day. In year or so...

Karen J. Weyant said...

I agree. I have been reading blogs for some time (even though my own blog is fairly new) and I'm impressed with how much I have learned about today's world of poetry. Continue to seek out praise to poets and small presses!

Garbo said...

One wintry day I was hauling two heavy boxfuls of books off the bus and into the snow-blown parking lot of the Post Office, and I thought, "Famous writers don't have to do this," and "Maybe I should just give it up," and things like that. And someone in a car at the intersection cranked down her window and yelled through the snowflake-filled air between us, "I LOVED YOUR BOOK!' If only that woman knew that she saved me from quitting writing. Seriously, I might have quit that very moment. So that's what even brief, semi-anonymous praise will do for me.

Anne said...

Collin: Yeah, me too. Sigh. It's on the list ... (I do want to read it!)
Karen: Welcome! Yeah, I've learned a ton from reading blogs myself. It's a nice little community.
Garbo: What a great story! That just makes me smile.