10 poets make the National Book Awards longlist

Nominated poets explore climate change, social justice and other current themes.
(Anthony Russo / For The Times)

Climate change, the beauty of the natural world and social justice are just a few of the themes that arise in the 10 collections nominated by the National Book Foundation for the 2019 National Book Award for Poetry.

The foundation’s longlist announced Wednesday includes two poets who are decades into their careers (Toi Derricotte and Mary Ruefle) and a political strategist’s debut (Camonghne Felix, an Elizabeth Warren staffer, wrote an anthem to survival in today’s fractured political climate).

All 10 of the books, thinned from 245 submissions, come from independent publishers, with first-time appearances from Wave Books (for Ruefle’s 12th published collection) and Tin House Books (for Ariana Reines’ “A Sand Book,” which addresses not only climate change but also social media, sexual trauma and how sand appears and disappears in our lives).

The other collections that consider the imperilment of the natural world include Arthur Sze’s 10th collection, “Sight Lines,” which calls upon a range of voices and forms. Site-specific work includes “Doomstead Days,” which Brian Teare “drafted on foot” at various natural and industrial locations. Dan Beachy-Quick’s “Variations on Dawn and Dusk” looks at the juxtaposition of light and space in Robert Irwin’s “untitled (dawn to dusk)” installation in Marfa, Texas.


The foundation will announce finalists Oct. 8 and winners at the private National Book Awards ceremony and benefit dinner Nov. 20 in New York City.

Here is the full list:

Dan Beachy-Quick, “Variations on Dawn and Dusk”

Omnidawn Publishing

Jericho Brown, “The Tradition”

Copper Canyon Press

Toi Derricotte, “’I’: New and Selected Poems”

University of Pittsburgh Press

Camonghne Felix, “Build Yourself a Boat”

Haymarket Books

Ilya Kaminsky, “Deaf Republic”

Graywolf Press

Ariana Reines, “A Sand Book”

Tin House Books

Mary Ruefle, “Dunce”

Wave Books

Carmen Giménez Smith, “Be Recorder”

Graywolf Press

Arthur Sze, “Sight Lines”

Copper Canyon Press

Brian Teare, “Doomstead Days”

Nightboat Books

The foundation previously announced longlists for children’s books and translated literature.