2020 National Poetry Series Winners

The National Poetry Series was established in 1978 to recognize and promote excellence in contemporary poetry by ensuring the publication of five books of poetry annually through participating publishers. In addition, the National Poetry Series has partnered with Miami Book Fair to award the Paz Prize in Poetry, which ensures bilingual publication for a book of poems written in Spanish. This conversation features W.J.

A New Reckoning: Two Graywolf Poets on Spirituality, Survival, & the Second Book

The Renunciations: Poems is a book of resilience, survival, and the journey to radically shift one’s sense of self in the face of trauma. Moving between a childhood marked by love and abuse and the breaking marriage of that adult child, Donika Kelly charts memory and the body as landscapes to be traversed and tended. These poems construct life rafts and sanctuaries even in their most devastating confrontations with what a person can bear, …

A U.S. Poet Laureate in Conversation

Joy Harjo, the first Native American to serve as U.S. poet laureate, celebrates the stories of her ancestors and family as well as the influences that shaped her work in Poet Warrior: A Memoir. As she recounts her journey of becoming, moving fluidly between prose, song, and poetry, she lays down a spiritual map to help us all find home. …

In Conversation: On A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance

In A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance, poet, essayist, and cultural critic Hanif Abdurraqib examines how Black performance, from music to dance to schoolyard fistfights, is woven into the fabric of American culture. Moderated by Leonard Pitts Jr., Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and the author of The Last Thing You Surrender: A Novel of World War II. …

In Conversation: On Animal: A Novel

In Animal: A Novel, Lisa Taddeo tells the story of Joan, who – even after spending a lifetime enduring the cruelties of men – witnesses an unbelievably shocking act of violence. And in its aftermath she unravels a horrific event from her childhood that empowers her to finally strike back. Moderated by Natasha Lunn, author of the upcoming Conversations on Love: Lovers, …

In Conversation: On Burnt Sugar: A Novel & The Archer

Avni Doshi‘s Burnt Sugar: A Novel is a story of love and betrayal between a mother and her daughter, who now confronts the task of caring for a woman who never cared for her. It’s a journey into shifting memories and the subjective nature of truth. In Shruti Swamy’s The Archer, a young Indian woman discovers kathak, …

In Conversation: On Dream Girl: A Novel & The Dark Hours

In Dream Girl: A Novel, Laura Lippman shares the story of writer Gerry Andersen, injured in a freak fall and confined to a hospital bed in his high-rise apartment. Then late one night, the phone rings – and the caller claims to be the “real” Aubrey, the title character from Andersen’s most successful novel, Dream Girl. But there is no “real” Aubrey, …

In Conversation: On Our Last Blue Moon: A Memoir

In Our Last Blue Moon: A Memoir, her first book, psychotherapist and former dancer and choreographer Kris O’Shee tells the story of the loss of her husband, Alan Cheuse, the novelist, teacher, and literary commentator known as the “voice of books” on NPR’s All Things Considered. Panelists include poet Robert Pinsky, fiction writer Ana Menéndez, …

In Conversation: On Pinkie Promises

Polly, the protagonist of Senator Elizabeth Warren and Charlene Chua’s Pinkie Promises, knows she’s strong and capable. But whenever she offers to help her uncle or brother or neighbor, they tell her: “That’s not what girls do.” Then Polly goes to a rally to meet a woman running for president, and they make a pinkie promise to remember all the things that girls do. …

In Conversation: On Piranesi

Susanna Clarke’s Piranesi is set in a dreamlike alternative reality, where the house inhabited by its namesake protagonist is no ordinary building: Within its infinite labyrinth of halls, an ocean is imprisoned. And as Piranesi explores his dwelling, a terrible truth begins to unravel. Moderated by Madeline Miller, author of Circe. …

In Conversation: On Sit Down to Rise Up: How Radical Self-Care Can Change the World

Mindfulness doesn’t have to be an individualistic solution to our challenges. In Sit Down to Rise Up: How Radical Self-Care Can Change the World, Shelly Tygielski argues that mindfulness can also be a powerful tool for spurring profound social change by going inward. Moderated by Arianna Huffington, author and founder of The Huffington Post. …

In Conversation: On Somebody’s Daughter: A Memoir & An American Marriage: A Novel.

Somebody’s Daughter: A Memoir is Ashley C. Ford‘s powerful debut work, a story of growing up a poor Black girl in Indiana battling her body and her environment, within a family fragmented by incarceration. For Celestial and Roy, the couple at the center of Tayari Jones‘ An American Marriage: A Novel, the American dream in sight. …

In Conversation: On The Devil You Know: A Black Power Manifesto

Drawing on both political observations and personal experience as a Black son of the South, New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow heralds a call to action in The Devil You Know: A Black Power Manifesto by which Black people can finally achieve equality, on their own terms. Moderated by writer and podcaster Touré, author of Who’s Afraid of Post-Blackness?: What it Means to Be Black Now. …

In Conversation: On The Matter of Black Lives: Writing from The New Yorker

The Matter of Black Lives: Writing from The New Yorker is a collection of the venerated magazine’s writing on race in America. Spanning a century, this anthology edited by Jelani Cobb and David Remnick brings together contributions by writers such as James Baldwin, Elizabeth Alexander, Hilton Als, Vinson Cunningham, Henry Louis Gates Jr., and Malcolm Gladwell. …

In Conversation: On Three Girls from Bronzeville: A Uniquely American Memoir of Race, Fate, and Sisterhood

Dawn Turner’s memoir Three Girls from Bronzeville: A Uniquely American Memoir of Race, Fate, and Sisterhood is about three Black women – Turner, her younger sister Kim, and her best friend, Debra – friends since childhood. In examining their fates, the author offers an exploration of race, opportunity, friendship, sisterhood, and the forces that allow some to flourish but cause others to falter. …

John Lithgow: On A Confederacy of Dumptys: Portraits of American Scoundrels in Verse

In A Confederacy of Dumptys: Portraits of American Scoundrels in Verse, actor, author, and illustrator John Lithgow, with cutting humor, offers a rogues’ gallery of American villains, powerful men and women who were corrupt, venal, criminal, adulterous, racist, or just plain disgusting. …

Merissa Nathan Gerson: On Forget Prayers, Bring Cake: A Single Woman’s Guide to Grieving

Merissa Nathan Gerson’s Forget Prayers, Bring Cake: A Single Woman’s Guide to Grieving is a relatable account of one woman’s reckoning with loss, and a guide to the world of self-recovery, self-love, and the skills necessary to meet one’s own needs in times of pain – especially when that pain is suffered alone. …

Lee Child: On Better Off Dead: A Jack Reacher Novel.

Jack Reacher was heading west and walking under the desert when he came upon a curious scene: A Jeep crashed into the only tree for miles around, with a woman slumped over its steering wheel. Is she dead? No – and nothing is what it seems. In Better Off Dead: A Jack Reacher Novel, the 26th installment of the Reacher saga, …

An Evening With Sarah Schulman & Jackson Howard: On Let the Record Show: A Political History of ACT UP New York, 1987-1993

Based on more than 200 interviews with Act Up members, author Sarah Schulman’s Let the Record Show: A Political History of ACT UP New York, 1987-1993 offers a revelatory exploration and reassessment of the inner workings, conflicts, achievements, and ultimate fracture of the AIDS awareness coalition. Joining Schulman is her editor at Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Jackson Howard. …

Anita F. Hill: On Believing: Our Thirty-Year Journey to End Gender Violence

In 1991, Anita F. Hill offered landmark testimony against soon-to-be Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas as a sexual menace. Her Believing: Our Thirty-Year Journey to End Gender Violence is part memoir, part law and social analysis, and a call to arms which addresses the origins and course of gender violence in our society. …

In Conversation: On Downtown Miami History, Chronicling 125 Years, 1896-2021

In Downtown Miami History, Chronicling 125 Years, 1896-2021, editor Raul Guerrero combines book excerpts, essays, articles, memoirs, trivia, interviews, and a poem by Campbell McGrath to engagingly relay the past of a global destination city. The result is a rich, broad view of 125 years of Miami’s booms, busts, reinventions, and disasters – natural and human-made. With panelists Allan Shulman, …

In Conversation: On Love of My Life: A Memoir

In Love of My Life: A Memoir, Barbara Mailer Wasserman has a few stories to tell – and the chops to do it. The classical pianist and Radcliffe College graduate who opted to work as a secretary rather than teach recalls, having just learned to drive, smuggling two political prisoners out of Spanish dictator Francisco Franco’s jail across the border to France in 1948. …

In Conversation: On New York and the International Sound of Latin Music, 1940-1990

In New York and the International Sound of Latin Music, 1940-1990, scholar, educator, composer, arranger, and Grammy-nominated musician Benjamin Lapidus examines how New York City became a hub for transnational Latin music – and set the standards for the study, creation, performance, and innovation of the genre. Moderated by Felix Contreras is co-creator and host of Alt.Latino, …

In Conversation: On Picturing Cuba: Art, Culture, and Identity on the Island and in the Diaspora

Edited by Jorge Duany, director of the Cuban Research Institute and Professor of Anthropology at Florida International University, and featuring an impressive list of contributors, Picturing Cuba: Art, Culture, and Identity on the Island and in the Diaspora explores defining moments in Cuban art across three centuries, encompassing works by Cubans on the island, in exile, and born in America. …

In Conversation: On The Animal Days

The Animal Days is the translation of Keila Vall de la Ville’s Los días animales, winner of the 2018 International Latino Book Award. It follows Julia’s journey of love and rock climbing across three continents. She’s determined never to look back and live on the brink, even if it means shedding her own skin in the process. Moderated by Ariana Neumann, …

In Conversation: On The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic: Revised and Expanded Edition

Published in 2015 and reissued now with new material and an introduction by Samantha Irby, Jessica Hopper’s The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic is a rallying cry for women-centered history and storytelling. It includes profiles and reviews of some of the most-loved and most-loathed women making music today. Moderated by Evelyn McDonnell, …

In Conversation: On The Rage of Innocence: How America Criminalizes Black Youth

Drawing upon 25 years of experience representing Black youth in the juvenile courts of Washington, D.C., Georgetown professor Kristin Henning analyzes the foundations of racist policing in America in The Rage of Innocence: How America Criminalizes Black Youth. In the process, she makes a compelling case that the crisis in racist American policing began with its relationship to Black children. …

In Conversation: On The State You’re in: Florida Men, Florida Women, and Other Wildlife & The Thing About Florida: Exploring a Misunderstood State

Investigative journalist and New York Times bestselling author Craig Pittman has covered Florida for 30 years. In The State You’re in: Florida Men, Florida Women, and Other Wildlife, which features a selection of his columns for the Tampa Bay Times, he writes about the state’s oddest wildlife and its quirkiest people – and vice versa. In The Thing about Florida: Exploring a Misunderstood State, …