- FINALISTS FOR THE 2002 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FOR POETRY
Harryette Mullen, Sleeping with the Dictionary (University of California Press)
Inspired by acrostics, anagrams, and puns; a “collaboration” with Roget’s Thesaurus and the American Heritage Dictionary; and her own reflections on the politics of language, Harryette Mullen’s alphabetically arranged poems stir new perspectives on the words we use.
Born in Florence, Alabama, and raised in Fort Worth, Texas, Harryette Mullen is Associate Professor of English and African American Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. Sleeping with the Dictionary is her fifth collection of poetry. She is also the author of Tree Tall Woman (1981), Trimmings (1991), S*PeRM**KT (1992), and Muse & Drudge (1995). A recipient of a Dobie-Paisano Fellowship from the Institute at the University of Rochester, and the Gertrude Stein Award for Innovative Poetry, she has taught in the Poets in the Schools Program in Texas, and serves on the faculty of Cave Canem, a workshop for African-American poets.
Sharon Olds, The Unswept Room (Alfred A. Knopf)
A new collection of poems from a distinguished poet, ranging from those erupting out of history and childhood, a new generation of children, the transformative power of marital love, and the shock when that love comes to an end.
Sharon Olds was born in San Francisco and educated at Stanford University and Columbia University, where she earned her PhD. Her books are Satan Says (1980), The Dead and the Living (1984), The Gold Cell (1991), The Wellspring (1995), The Father (1992), and Blood, Tin, Straw. (1999). Her poems appear frequently in The New Yorker and other magazines. She was the New York State Poet Laureate from 1998 to 2000. She teaches at New York University and the NYU Workshop Program at Goldwater Hospital for the severely physically disabled on Roosevelt Island.
Alberto Rios, The Smallest Muscle in the Human Body (Copper Canyon Press)
Set in a town that straddles the American/Mexican border, these poems are lyric adventures, crossing boundaries as they move between cultures, languages, and sensibilities. Drawing upon fable, parable, and family legend, Alberto Rios utilizes the imagination of childhood to reveal essential relationships.
Alberto Rios was born in Nogales, Arizona, on the Mexican border, in 1952. He studied at the University of Arizona, where he received a MFA in Creative Writing. His books include Capirotada: A Nogales Memoir (1999); The Curtain of Trees: Stories (1999); Pig Cookies and Other Stories (1995); Teodora Luna’s Two Kisses: Poems (1990); The Lime Orchard Woman: Poems (1988); Five Indiscretions: A Book of Poems (1985); The Iguana Killer: Twelve Stories of the Heart (1984), and Whispering to Fool the Wind: Poems (1982). His poetry has been set to music in a cantata by James DeMars called “Toto’s Say,” and was also featured in the documentary Birthwrite: Growing Up Hispanic. Since 1982, he has taught at Arizona State University. He lives in Chandler, Arizona
Ruth Stone, In the Next Galaxy (Copper Canyon Press)
For her eighth volume of poetry, Ruth Stone, an octogenarian Vermonter, writes from the vantage point of an aging and impoverished woman, and in doing so, reveals a fiery passion for knowing exactly how the world works.
Born in Roanoke, Virginia in 1915, Ruth Stone is the author of seven books of poetry, including In an Iridescent Time (1951), Topography and Other Poems (1970), and Cheap (1972), as well as several chapbooks. She is the recipient of many honors including the Academy of American Poets Eric Mathieu King Award, the Whiting Award, the Cerf Lifetime Achievement Award from the State of Vermont, and two Guggenheim Fellowships. She raised three daughters alone while teaching creative writing at colleges and universities across the United States, including University of Illinois, University of Wisconsin, Wellesley College, Indiana University, Brandeis, and SUNY Binghamton, where she is professor emerita. She lives in Vermont.
Ellen Bryant Voigt, Shadow of Heaven (W.W. Norton & Company)
With titles such as “Winter Field,” “The Garden, Spring, the Hawk,” and “Autumn in the Yard We Planted,” nature infuses these poems and sequences written by a poet determined “to bring out-doors inside, /The natural and the wild, picked by my own hand.”
Born in Virginia in 1943, Ellen Bryant Voigt grew up on a farm and, from an early age, was a serious student of the piano. She attended Converse College and the University of Iowa. She was the recipient of the 2002 Academy of American Poets Fellowship, the Pushcart Prize, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. She has taught at Goddard College and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and now teaches in the low-residency MFA Program for writers at Warren Wilson College. The Vermont Symphony Orchestra on its 2000 tour premiered a commissioned work based on her previous book Kyrie. She lives in Cabot, Vermont, and is currently Vermont State Poet.
FINALISTS FOR THE 2002 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FOR FICTION
Mark Costello, Big If (W.W. Norton & Company)
In a riff on recent history and the American obsession with assassination, five Americans – bodyguards and soccer dads and campaign volunteers – long for security in the crowds and in their own lives. At the center is the story of Vi, a secret service bodyguard protecting the Vice President campaigning for the White House, and her troubled brother, a software genius poised to make a fortune on “BigIf,” a state-of-the-art computer game.
Mark Costello was born and raised near Boston, and is a former federal prosecutor. In 1990 he co-authored Signifying Rappers: Rap and Race in the Urban Present with David Foster Wallace. He published his first novel, Bag Men (1996), under the name John Flood. He teaches criminal law at Fordham University and lives in New York City with his family.
Julia Glass, Three Junes (Pantheon Books)
Set on both sides of the Atlantic during three fateful summers (1989, 1995, and 1999) in the lives of a Scottish family, this novel explores love in its limitless forms: between husband and wife, between lovers, between people and animals, between parents and children. At turns suspenseful, comic, and sad, these family members in inextricably entwined lives try to make peace with the past and to embrace the future.
Recipient of a 2000 New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in fiction writing, Julia Glass has won several prizes for her short stories. She lives with her family in New York City, where she works as a freelance journalist and editor. Three Junes is her first published novel.
Adam Haslett, You Are Not a Stranger Here (Nan A. Talese/Doubleday)
A debut collection of nine stories about anguished and complex people: mourning mothers; maniacal fathers; schizophrenics; depressed, lonely teenagers; perplexed gay men; treacherous and jealous brothers; and other victims of human grief. The book is a landscape of absences, deaths, and peculiar salvations, taking place in settings ranging from the American West to New England to Great Britain.
A graduate of Swarthmore College and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Adam Haslett has published work has appeared in Zoetrope: All Story, The Yale Review, BOMB magazine, and on National Public Radio’s “Selected Shorts.” He has received fellowships from the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center and the Michener/Copernicus Society of America. He is currently a student at Yale Law School.
Martha McPhee, Gorgeous Lies (Harcourt, Inc.)
In the 1970s, the media lavished attention on Anton Furey’s blended family and their utopian lifestyle. Now he’s dying and his “tribe” comes to reconcile with the patriarch and the life he created for all of them. Martha McPhee, in this sequel to her first novel, Bright Angel Time, paints a portrait of an era and a family that scrutinizes the obligations of love.
Martha McPhee’s first novel, Bright Angel Time, was published in 1997 and her short fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, Redbook, and Open City. Her nonfiction has been published in The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, Interview and Real Simple. She is the recipient of a 1998 National Endowment for the Arts Grant and has been a fellow at both the MacDowell and Yaddo artist colonies. She received her MFA from Columbia University where she has also taught in both the undergraduate and graduate creative writing programs. She is co-author with Jenny and Laura McPhee of Girls, a nonfiction book. She lives in New York City with her daughter and husband.
Brad Watson, The Heaven of Mercury (W.W. Norton & Company)
Set deep in the American South, this debut novel spans 80 years in the life of Mercury, Mississippi, as it evolves from sleepy backwater to a small city. Mercury’s changing landscape and cast of characters enrich the tale of the lifelong and complicated friendship between Finus Bates and his love, Birdie Wells.
Brad Watson was born in Meridian, Mississippi, studied at Mississippi State University and received an MFA from the University of Alabama. He has been a newspaper reporter on the Alabama and Florida Gulf coasts, an English instructor, and a creative writing teacher at Harvard. His short fiction has been published in Story, Black Warrior Review, Greensboro Review and Dog Stories. His short story collection, Last Days of the Dog-Men, won a Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He and his family live in Pensacola, Florida, where he teaches at the University of West Florida.