At the National Book Awards dinner last night, John Ashberry, who was being recognized for his life's work, said that writing poetry “gives me a pleasure I can almost taste.”
And Mitchell Kaplan was honored as well. He's the founder of my beloved Books and Books and the Miami Book Fair International, which each year overwhelms me with its choices. He said, “I firmly believe that even with all the upheaval that we find in our industry today, there’s room for plenty of optimism. Writers are writing marvelous and interesting books. Publishers are publishing them.”
How I love books! How I love the people who write them! How I love everyone involved in the process! How I am happy to be a writer too!
Yes, it's that kind of morning. I could let myself bathe in despair for so many reasons, but I'm not going to do it. I've been working on the blog posts that will appear over Thanksgiving, and I am so overwhelmed with gratitude at how many wonderful books have been published, just in the last year. I will be thankful for that. My public library will likely have to cut hours, but it's still there. It's a tough time to be in the field of education, but my key still turns the lock.
For a write-up about last night's awards, the story in The New York Times is here. This story made me want to hear poet Nikky Finney's acceptance speech:
“'A fine of $100 and six months of prison will be imposed for teaching a slave to read and write,' Finney began her speech, reading from the 1739 slave codes of South Carolina. She talked about how blacks were forbidden to be literate in her home state and across America for a part of history.
'I am now officially speechless,' Finney said, ending her speech with a pun to her literacy.
John Lithgow took the podium over from Finney in front of an audience responding to her acceptance with a standing ovation.
'That was the best acceptance speech for anything I’ve ever heard in my life,' Lithgow said. 'That’s also the loudest I’ve ever heard people cheer for a poetry award.'”
Thanks to Susan Rich who linked to the story here. We can all view the awards dinner here.
Nikkey Finney sounds like a fabulous poet--why have I not heard about her before?
The world is full of wonderful poets--we live in that kind of time. I'll order her book later today, along with a few others.
What I love about these kind of awards is that they do introduce me to poets whose work I haven't known before. While I love poets like Adrienne Rich and Yusef Komunyakaa, I was happy to see less well-known poets honored too.
And the next time I'm stuck in a boring meeting, I'll start writing an acceptance speech for a book of poems yet to be published, yet to be awarded. I like that kind of positive energy going out into the universe!
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