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National Book Critics Circle Honors Poets

'The School Among the Ruins'
'The Orchard'
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As the first MTV decade came to a close and the fine arts struggled for survival, screenwriter Paul Rudnick hammered his own nail into the high-art coffin with the Spy Magazine article "It's Okay to Hate High Culture." Since then, the arts that Rudnick targeted -- opera, poetry and ballet -- have persevered, netting small numbers of passionate fans.

One such niche is the National Book Critics Circle, a group of critics that awards writers working in genres as varied as biography and young-adult fiction. In January, they announced the nominees for the 2004 awards -- among them, five poets. The winners will be announced on March 18.

The finalists in the poetry category are: Brigit Pegeen Kelly, The Orchard; D.A. Powell, Cocktails; Adrienne Rich, The School Among the Ruins; James Richardson, Interglacial; and Gary Snyder, Danger on Peaks.

J.D. McClatchy teaches English at Yale University, and edits The Yale Review, a literary quarterly. He joins NPR's Sheilah Kast to talk through some of the nominated verse.

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