(November 18, 2004) - Jean Valentine’s Door in the Mountain, a collection of more than 70 new poems accompanied by selections from her previous books, is the winner of the 2004 National Book Award for Poetry, it was announced Wednesday.
Many of the new poems in Door in the Mountain were written at Yaddo in the winter of 2002-2003, when Valentine held the Martha Walsh Pulver Residency for a Poet.
Four other Yaddo writers were nominated for the prestigious awards. Valentine’s fellow poets William Heyen and the late Donald Justice and fiction writers Joan Silber and Kate Walbert also were among the 20 finalists for the awards. Mr. Heyen was nominated for Shoah Train, a collection of “unblinking” poems inspired by the Holocaust. Mr. Justice, who died earlier this year at age 78, was nominated for Collected Poems, a selection of work from his last seven books alongside 10 new poems. Ms. Silber’s nominated book was Ideas of Heaven: A Ring of Stories, a group of tales set in the past and present in France, Italy, New York, and China that are linked by a minor element in one that becomes major in the succeeding story. Ms. Walbert’s fiction entry was Our Kind: A Novel in Stories, the collective tale of a group of women who came of age in the 1950s and must face life after their husbands and children have left home.
Finalists were selected by four independent panels of judges who were asked to select what they deem to be the best books written by an American and published in the United States between December 1, 2003, and November 30, 2004. This year, the judges chose from a record 1,074 entries submitted by 226 publishers and imprints. For the first time in the awards’ 55-year history, all five of the fiction finalists were women.
The winners in each of the four categories – young people’s literature, nonfiction, poetry, and fiction – were announced last night at a benefit dinner and ceremony in New York City hosted by Garrison Keillor. Each winner receives $10,000 plus a bronze statue; each finalist receives a bronze medal and a $1,000 cash award.
Four Yaddo writers served on the 2004 National Book Awards judging panels. Rick Moody chaired the fiction panel, which also included Linda Hogan; and Michael Waters chaired the poetry panel, which included fellow Yaddo poet Lynn Emanuel.