There has been so much beautiful work created in 2022. Thankfully, there are competitions such as the National Book Award that help the literary community keep track of its shining stars during the year. This year in the poetry world, Punks: New & Selected Poems by John Keene was this year’s National Book Award Winner. Click here to read my article that goes into more depth on all the winners!
Now, here are the four National Book Award Poetry finalists that deserve recognition!
by Sharon Olds
Balladz by Sharon Olds covers a wide range of poetic art forms. It features poems written during quarantine as well as songs that have impacted Olds during all stages of life. Each poem is produced with such elegance and rhythm. She is able to embody sadness while also letting us in and showing us her privilege, love life, family, and struggles.
by Jenny Xie
Jenny Xie’s The Rapture Tense: Poems break the constraints of time and physics. In her second collection, Xie takes us to the past and future and challenges silence and sound. This piece discusses home, memories, secrets, and more concerning the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Through her brilliant writing and familial experience, Xie can convey the intricacies related to language, history, culture, and family that bind humans together.
by Allison Adelle Hedge Coke
Look at This Blue by Allison Adelle Hedge Coke covers the very pressing issue of climate change and the world’s dire need for change. Through her love of California, Coke writes about just how much we are losing through climate change and how much more it will be soon without a solution. She mentions humans, plants, and animals, are all at extreme risk of extinction. She highlights the destruction to our planet and its people expressing a dire need for change.
by Roger Reeves
Best Barbarian: Poems by Roger Reeves is a National Book Award Finalist and a New York Times Notable Book. Similar to Coke’s collection, Reeves also covers climate change, but that is not the only worldwide issue discussed. He also discusses anti-Black racism making this one of the most pressing reads out of all the finalists. Along with those two very pressing topics, Best Barbarian: Poems is also about family love versus erotic love, and happiness versus sadness. This collection is a cascading wave of emotions due to its expansive and necessary group of topics.
Click here to read more about poems from us here at Bookstr!