Last night provided enough material for a dozen blog posts. How is it possible to contain one spectacular evening?
It doesn’t help that we went to bed after two, woke up at eight to ringing phone, and had too many glasses of red wine.
First, Mark’s citation:
Elegant, plainspoken, and unflinching, Mark Doty’s poems in Fire to Fire gently invite us to share their ferocious compassion. With their praise for their world and their fierce accusation, their defiance and applause, they combine grief and glory in a music of crazy excelsis. In this generous retrospective volume a gifted young poet has become a master.
We teared up this morning when we looked at the long list of National Book Award winners in poetry over the years. Twentieth-century American literature, and beyond.
I guess that could be the subject of this post: We wept. And the winner of the National Book Award in Poetry is… We wept. Well, I wouldn’t have predicted having to grab and cover the top part of my head with my hand. I missed his long walk to the stage. I composed myself enough to smile, heard Mark speak his thanks to editor and agent, heard enough even to catch my name in the air (to cheers and applause from the HarperCollins and Greywolf tables). Mark back to our side of the room, where Terry Karten, his editor, sprang out of her seat. I wish I’d had a video of the two of them standing together. Their hugs and smiles and moving hands.
Tears between us when we sat down again. Mark holding onto my hand. And the loveliest congratulations from all around.
There’s much more to say about the elegant space at Cipriani, the horribly crowded afterparty at Socialista, the two of us eating in a corner, at the one cozy table at Cafeteria at 1:30 AM. But for now I keep thinking of the car we took to the afterparty with Nam Le and—who was that funny, sexy woman in the front seat? Nam was coughing away, but somehow the coughing made him seem glamorous rather than sick. And the driver sped us around the lower tip of Manhattan. The lights of Brooklyn and Jersey City across the water, the towers right and left. And who gave a damn if the driver got lost along the way?
Click here for the NPR report, and Salvatore Scibona's description of Cipriani.