November 20th, 2013 | by AARON MESH Arts & Books | Posted In: Books

Poet Mary Szybist Wins National Book Award

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Portland-based poet Mary Szybist has won the National Book Award for poetry for her latest collection, Incarnadine.

Szybist, who teaches English at Lewis & Clark College, accepted the award tonight in Manhattan.

Poetry "is what some describe as soul-making; I count myself among them," she said during her acceptance speech. "Speaking differently is what I aspire to."

WW reviewed Incarnadine this past February, praising its construction and intimacy:

Even for avid readers of all genres, poetry can sometimes feel a bit…unapproachable. But the poems of Portland-based writer Mary Szybist read more like a letter from an old friend, familiar and inviting. They float by like a snippet of overheard conversation. Words both lovely and sad flow from line to line in an experience akin to following the lines of force within a painting.
Her first book, Granted (2003), had previously been a finalist for the National Book Critic's Circle Award.

From her poem "Happy Ideas," in Incarnadine:
I had the happy idea that somewhere a child was being born who was nothing like Helen or Jesus except in the sense of changing everything.
I had the happy idea that someday I would find both pleasure and punishment, that I would know them and feel them,

and that, until I did, it would be almost as good to pretend.

I had the happy idea to call myself happy.
 
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