US National Book Awards 2021 Longlist: Poetry

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Eight independent publishers produced nine of the titles on the National Book Awards’ 2021 Poetry list. The 10th title is from a university press.

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

See also: The National Book Awards 2021 Longlist for Translated Literature, for Young People’s Literature, for Fiction, and for Nonfiction.

Publishers Submitted 290 Titles in Poetry
The final longlist from the National Book Foundation for the 2021 National Book Awards in the United States is a 10-title jury selection of work in Poetry.

Perhaps the most interesting element of this list for longtime National Book Awards followers is that nine of the 10 poets on this year’s longlist are first-time honorees in the National Book Foundation program. Forrest Gander is the only one of the group who has been recognized earlier in this awards program, an d that was in 2018 when his collection Be With was longlisted.

Two Pulitzer Prize-winners are in the 2021 longlist, as are two Whiting Award-winners.

Independent publishers have produced nine of the 10 longlisted titles, and the 10th is from Yale University Press. Wave Books has published two of the 10 longlisted titles.

Publishers placed a total 290 books into competition in the Poetry category this time.

As Publishing Perspectives readers know, finalists in all five catetories are to be named on October 5, and winners in all categories will be announced live at the National Book Awards Ceremony on November 17.

Jurors in this category of long subtitles this year are A. Van Jordan (chair), Don Mee Choi, Natalie Diaz, Matthea Harvey, and Ilya Kaminsky.

Poetry 2021 Longlist
Author Title Publisher / Imprint
Threa Almontaser The Wild Fox of Yemen Graywolf Press
Baba Badji Ghost Letters Parlor Press
Desiree C. Bailey What Noise Against the Cane Yale University Press
CM Burroughs Master Suffering Tupelo Press
Andrés Cerpa The Vault Alice James Books
Martin Espada Floaters WW Norton & Company
Forrest Gander Twice Alive New Directions
Douglas Kearney Sho Wave Books
Hoa Nguyen A Thousand Times You Lose Your Treasure Wave Books
Jackie Wang The Sunflower Cast a Spell to Save Us From the Void Nightboat Books

As always, the jury’s decisions are made independently of the National Book Foundation staff and board of directors and deliberations are strictly confidential.


More from Publishing Perspectives on the National Book Awards is here, and on awards programs in general is here. More from us on nonfiction is here.

More on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson is a non-resident fellow of Trends Research & Advisory, and he has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA. As as an arts critic (National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.

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