Indiana University Creative Writing Program
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Poet Adrian Matejka has been named a semi-finalist for a National Book Award


Poet Adrian Matejka has been named a semi-finalist for a National Book Award, the National Book Foundation announced last week. His latest book of poems, "The Big Smoke," is about the life of boxer Jack Johnson. This year, for the first time, the National Book Foundation began a practice of releasing a “long list” of ten nominees that will be pared to a “short list” of five next month, with the winner being named in November. The National Book Foundation's mission is to celebrate the best of American literature, to expand its audience, and to enhance the cultural value of good writing in America. Inclusion on the long list is a significant honor, involving selection from a list of roughly 200 nominated poets. Let’s wish Adrian well for the next month or so, as the tension mounts, along (no doubt) with reading invitations. Congratulations and good luck, Adrian.

The National Book Award is one of the nation's most prestigious literary prizes and has a stellar record of identifying and rewarding quality writing. In 1950, William Carlos Williams was the first Winner in Poetry, the following year William Faulkner was honored in Fiction, and so on through the years. Many previous Winners of a National Book Award are now firmly established in the canon of American literature, such as Sherman Alexie, Louise Erdrich, Jonathan Franzen, Denis Johnson, Joyce Carol Oates, and Adrienne Rich.