The National Book Critics Circle Award - Poetry

The National Book Critics Circle Awards are awarded annually in several categories including fiction. The awards are chosen by the 700+ members.
Award Year Authors(s) Title
2011 Laura Kasischke Space, In Chains Space, in Chains speaks in ghostly voices, fractured narratives, songs, prayers, and dark riddles as it moves through contemporary tragedies of grief and the complex succession of generations. In her eighth book of poetry, Laura Kasischke has pared the construction of her verse to its bones, leaving haunting language and a visceral strangeness of imagery. by turns mournful and celebratory, Kasischke's poetry insists upon asking hard questions that are courageously left unanswered.
2010 C.D. Wright One With Others: [a little book of her days]
2009 Rae Armantrout Versed Rae Armantrout has always organized her collections of poetry as though they were works in themselves. Versed brings two of these sequences together, offering readers an expanded view of the arc of her writing. The invisible and unknowable are confronted directly as Armantrout's experience with cancer marks these poems with a new austerity, shot through with her signature wit and stark unsentimental thinking. Together, the poems of Versed part us from our assumptions about reality, revealing the gaps and fissures in our emotional and linguistic constructs, showing us ourselves where we are most exposed.
2008 Juan Felipe Herrera Half the World in Light
2007 Mary Jo Bang Elegy: Poems Mary Jo Bang's fifth collection, "Elegy," chronicles the year following the death of her son. By weaving the particulars of her own loss into a tapestry that also contains the elements common to all losses, Bang creates something far larger than a mere lament. Continually in search of an adequate metaphor for the most profound and private grief, the poems in "Elegy "confront, in stark terms and with a resilient voice, how memory haunts the living and brings the dead back to life. Within these intimate and personal poems is a persistently urgent, and deeply touching, examination of grief itself.
2006 Troy Jollimore Tom Thomson in Purgatory
2005 Jack Gilbert Refusing Heaven In Refusing Heaven, Jack Gilbert writes about the commingled passion, loneliness, and sometimes surprising happiness of a life spent in luminous understanding of his own blessings and shortcomings.
2004 Adrienne Rich The School Among Ruins
2003 Susan Stewart Columbarium
2002 B.H. Fairchild Early Occult Memory Systems of the Lower Midwest
2001 Albert Goldbarth Saving Lives: Poems
2000 Judy Jordan Carolina Ghost Woods
1999 Ruth Stone Ordinary Words
1998 Marie Ponsot The Bird Catcher
1997 Charles Wright Black Zodiac These are poems suffused with spiritual longing, lyrical meditations on faith, religion, heritage, and morality that also explore aging and mortality with restless grace. Entering by way of small moments, Wright magnifies details to reveal a truth much larger than the quotidian happening that engendered it. The result is an astonisning, flexible poetry that, as Helen Vendler has observed, makes Wright a poet who "sounds like nobody else".
1996 Robert Hass Sun Under Wood
1995 William Matthews Time and Money
1994 Mark Rudman Rider Rudman skillfully explores his own life and past.
1993 Mark Doty My Alexandria A versatile, technically astute poet, Doty masterfully tackles themes of death, beauty and discovery in this collection.
1992 Hayden Carruth Collected Shorter Poems Collected Shorter Poems, 1946-1991 presents all the lyric, short narrative, comic, meditative, nature, and erotic poetry the poet has chosen from the past forty-five years, including a section of new poems not found in his previous twenty-two books.
1991 Albert Goldbarth Heaven and Earth
1990 Amy Gerstler Bitter Angel
1989 Rodney Jones Transparent Jestures
1988 Donald Hall The One Day
1987 C.K. Williams Flesh and Blood
1986 Edward Hirsch Wild Gratitude From its opening epigraph, On Love takes the subjects of and fusion, autonomy and blur. The initial up separateness progression of fifteen shapely and passionate lyrics (including a sonnet about the poet at seven, a villanelle about the loneliness of a pioneer woman on the prairie, and an elegy for Amy Clampitt) opens out into a sequence of meditations about love.
1985 Louise Gluck The Triumph of Achilles Gluck shows the reader what she wants us to see through her poetry.
1984 Sharon Olds The Dead and the Living Olds explores the world of familial relationships.
1983 James Merrill The Changing Light at Sandover
1982 Katha Pollitt Antarctic Traveler
1981 A.R. Ammons A Coast of Trees