New York, September 28, 2005 —The Academy of American Poets and The Nation magazine are pleased to announce the finalists for the 2005 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize, a $25,000 award for the most outstanding book of poems published in the United States during 2004.

The winner of the prize will be announced in October. The judges for this year’s contest are Louise Glück, Robert Pinsky, and Alan Shapiro. An essay by Robert Pinsky on the prize-winning collection will appear in The Nation, along with a selection of poems from the book.

The Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize is endowed by a gift to the Academy of American Poets from the New Hope Foundation, which for more than forty years worked to support world peace, literature, and the arts. The Nation first joined with the New Hope Foundation to present the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize in 1982.

The finalists, chosen from more than 150 entries, are:

Poems New & Selected
by Marianne Boruch

Oberlin College Press

Marianne Boruch is the author of four previous collections of poetry: Moss Burning and A Stick That Breaks and Breaks, both published by Oberlin College Press, as well as Descendant (1989) and View from the Gazebo (1985). The director of the graduate program in creative writing at Purdue University, Boruch's complex and compelling poetry astonishes with its precision, depth, and lucidity.

Says David Young: "Ever since her first book, Marianne Boruch has been among our most formidable and thought-provoking practitioners of poetry. It is not that she is flamboyant or flashy, armored in theory or swimming with a school. Her poems are contained, steady, and exceptionally precise. They build toward blazing insights with the utmost honesty and care. How, we wonder, did she accomplish that so effortlessly? And the answer arrives not far behind: through attention, craft, integrity, and vision."

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Strike Sparks: Selected Poems, 1980-2002
by Sharon Olds

Alfred A. Knopf

This powerful collection from the gifted and widely read poet Sharon Olds contains more than 100 poems drawn from her seven published volumes.

Michael Ondaatje has called Sharon Olds’s poetry “pure fire in the hands” and cheered the “roughness and humor and brag and tenderness and completion in her work as she carries the reader through rooms of passion and loss.” This rich selection exhibits those qualities in poem after poem, reflecting, moreover, an exciting experimentation with rhythm and language and a movement toward an embrace beyond the personal. Subjects are revisited—the pain of childhood, adolescent sexual stirrings, the fulfillment of marriage, the wonder of children—but each recasting penetrates ever more deeply, enriched by new perceptions and conceits.

Strike Sparks is a testament to this remarkable poet’s continuing and amazing growth.

More about Sharon Olds >

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Don't Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric
by Claudia Rankine

Graywolf Press

In this powerful sequence of TV images and essays, Claudia Rankine explores the personal and political unrest of our volatile new century.

The award-winning poet Claudia Rankine, well known for her experimental multigenre writing, fuses the lyric, the essay, and the visual in this politically and morally fierce examination of solitude in the rapacious and media-driven assault on selfhood that is contemporary America. With wit and intelligence, Rankine strives toward an unprecedented clarity-of thought, imagination, and sentence-making-while arguing that recognition of others is the only salvation for ourselves, our art, and our government.

Don't Let Me Be Lonely is an important new confrontation with our culture, with a voice at its heart bewildered by its inadequacy in the face of race riots, terrorist attacks, medicated depression, and the antagonism of the television that won't leave us alone.

More about Claudia Rankine >

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New and Selected Poems
by Michael Ryan

Houghton Mifflin

Michael Ryan's New and Selected Poems is the first collection to appear in fifteen years from this acclaimed and masterly poet. Comprising fifty-seven poems from three award-winning volumes and thirty-one brilliant new poems, it displays the wit and passion he has brought to universal themes throughout his career. In both dramatic lyrics and complex narratives, Ryan renders the world with startling clarity, freshness, and intimacy.

Ryan's poems are filled with the stuff of everyday life: WhataBurger, Space Invaders, "the hood ornament / on some chopped down hot rod of the apocalypse." He observes his subjects in carefully wrought detail and with a fierce compassion, describing "stupid posters of rock stars" in the bedroom of a murdered teenager, or a homeless boy "straggle-haired, bloated, / eyes shining like ice." As Ryan writes of others, in a final "Reminder" to himself: "their light —their light — / pulls so surely. Let it."

This long-awaited collection shows Ryan at the height of his powers. As William H. Pritchard said in The Nation, "Unlike too many poets who tumble into print at the first twitch of feeling, Ryan takes time to listen to himself, and such listening contributes immeasurably to the subtlety of his address to the reader . . . [He] reminds us on every page that poems can be about lives, and about them in ways most urgent and delicate."

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Door in the Mountain: New and Collected Poems, 1965-2003
by Jean Valentine

Wesleyan University Press

Since the 1965 publication of her first book, Dream Barker, selected for the Yale Younger Poets Award, Jean Valentine has published eight collections of poetry to critical acclaim. Spare and intensely-felt, Valentine’s poems present experience as only imperfectly graspable.

Door in the Mountain, winner of the 2004 National Book Award in Poetry, collects Valentine's previous poems and includes new work.

Valentine's poetry is as recognizable as the slant truth of a dream. She is a brave, unshirking poet who speaks with fire on the great subjects—love, and death, and the soul. Her images—strange, uncanny visions of the unknown self—clang with the authenticity of real experience. This is an urgent art that wants to heal what it touches, a poetry that wants to tell, intimately, the whole life.

More about Jean Valentine >

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The Displaced of Capital
by Anne Winters

University of Chicago Press

The long-awaited follow-up to The Key to the City—a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1986—Anne Winters's The Displaced of Capital emanates a quiet and authoritative passion for social justice, embodying the voice of a subtle, sophisticated conscience.

The "displaced" in the book's title refers to the poor, the homeless, and the disenfranchised who populate New York, the city that serves at once as gritty backdrop, city of dreams, and urban nightmare. Winters also addresses the culturally, ethnically, and emotionally excluded and, in these politically sensitive poems, writes without sentimentality of a cityscape of tenements and immigrants, offering her poetry as a testament to the lives of have-nots. In the central poem, Winters witnesses the relationship between two women of disparate social classes whose friendship represents the poet's political convictions. With poems both powerful and musical, The Displaced of Capital marks Anne Winters's triumphant return and assures her standing as an essential New York poet.

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Previous winners of the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize include John Ashbery, Sterling A. Brown, Hayden Carruth, Wanda Coleman, Cid Corman, Madeline DeFrees, David Ferry, Eamon Grennan, Thom Gunn, Marilyn Hacker, John Haines, Donald Hall, Fanny Howe, Josephine Jacobsen, Mark Jarman, Stanley Kunitz, Denise Levertov, Philip Levine, John Logan, Thomas McGrath, W. S. Merwin, Josephine Miles, Howard Moss, Robert Pinsky, Donald Revell, Adrienne Rich, Michael Ryan, George Starbuck, Allen Tate, and Charles Wright.

The Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize was established in 1975 by the New Hope Foundation in memory of Lenore Marshall (1897–1971), a poet, novelist, essayist, and political activist. Lenore Marshall was the author of three novels, three books of poetry, a collection of short stories, and selections from her notebooks. Her work also appeared in The New Yorker, The Saturday Review, Partisan Review, and other literary magazines. In 1956 she helped found the National Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy, the citizens’ organization that lobbied successfully for passage of the 1963 partial nuclear test ban treaty.

The Academy of American Poets was founded in 1934 to support American poets at all stages of their careers and to foster the ­appreciation of contemporary poetry. The preeminent organization in the country dedicated to the art of poetry, the Academy administers many important programs, including National Poetry Month (April), the Online Poetry Classroom, the Poetry Audio Archive, and, our award-winning website. The Academy also conducts High School Poetry Workshops for New York City students each year and publishes the biannual journal, American Poet. In addition, the Academy administers the most important collection of poetry awards in the United States. These include the Wallace Stevens Award, the Academy ­Fellowship, the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize, the James Laughlin Award, the Walt Whitman Award, the Raiziss/de Palchi Translation Award, the Harold Morton Landon Translation Award, and student prizes at nearly 200 colleges and universities nationwide.

The Nation, founded in 1865, is America’s oldest weekly magazine. Well known as a journal of political analysis, The Nation also has a long and distinguished literary history. Such notable writers as Henry James, William James, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and James Russell Lowell were among its original contributors. Many poets have contributed to its pages, including T. S. Eliot, William Butler Yeats, Emily Dickinson, W. H. Auden, Wallace Stevens, Ezra Pound, Robert Frost, and Robert Lowell. Each year the magazine and the Unterberg Poetry Center of the 92 nd Street Y co-sponsor “Discovery”/The Nation, an award for younger poets.