NBA Finalists in Poetry

The Shortlist for the National Book Award Finalists in Poetry is now out.  Here’s who made the cut. (Those on the longlist can be found here.) 




Daniel Borzutzky

On the side of the highway a thousand refugees step off a school bus and into a sun that can only be described as “blazing.”

The rabbi points to the line the refugees step over and says: “That’s where the country begins.”

This reminds me of Uncle Antonio. He would have died had his tortured body not been traded to another country for minerals.

Made that up.

This is a story about diplomatic protections.

Read rest of poem 


Lady Freedom Among Us

Rita Dove

don't lower your eyes
or stare straight ahead to where
you think you ought to be going

don't mutter oh no
not another one
get a job  fly a kite
go bury a bone

Read rest of poem 



Peter Gizzi

I’m just visiting this voice
I’m just visiting the molecular structures that say what I am saying
I am just visiting the world at this moment and it’s on fire
It’s always been on fire

Read rest of poem 





        It was late in the year and late in the day,

And in Sant’Agnese in Agone

The light was not quite right.

—– So late in the year, so late in the day,

Read rest of poem (Please note that though this poem is included in “The Abridged History of Rainfall” it is, according to a note I’ve received from Hopler, “in a somewhat different version.”  The book is due out on November 15. 





Solmaz Sharif


Until now, now that I’ve reached my thirties:
All my Muse’s poetry has been harmless:
American and diplomatic: a learned helplessness
Is what psychologists call it: my docile, desired state.
I’ve been largely well-behaved and gracious.
I’ve learned the doctors learned of learned helplessness
By shocking dogs. Eventually we things give up.
Am I grateful to be here? Someone eventually asks
If I love this country. In between the helplessness,

Read rest of poem 



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