The winner of the 2004 National Book Award in the Poetry category was Jean Valentine, who appears to live in New York City (naturally).
Ms. Valentine, a graduate of Radcliffe (sister school to Harvard), won the Yale Younger Poets Award in 1965. Since then she's been given a long list of awards and grants by the lit establishment-- among them, from the National Endowment for the Arts; the Guggenheim Foundation; the Rockefeller Foundation, Bunting Institute, Maurice English Prize, Teasdale Poetry Prize, Shelly Memorial Prize, etc etc etc. And now a National Book Award to add to that.
With all those accolades one would think Jean Valentine is quite a spectacular and amazing poet. Not! Here's one from her latest award-winning collection:
While you were alive
and thought well of me
there was always a coin
in my fish-mouth
off in the night
or the day lake. Now
the little coin doesn't need itself.
I'm looking for great qualities of rhythmn, euphony, rhyme, image in this long and lofty poem and can't seem to find too many of them. The other poems in the book are similarly undistinguished. But the elite have again rewarded one of their own. Ms. Valentine and her friends are content, and will no doubt continue cranking out more unremarkable verse to ensure America's poetry scene remains dead.